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17

Sep

Encouraging Young Women into Technology

Are we predisposing our daughters to ‘female’ career paths?

I attended an enlightening forum this week for Women in Technology. The event was hosted by Microsoft as part of its annual TechEd event in Auckland. And it got me thinking, are we predisposing our daughters to certain career paths? 

Microsoft TechEd Women in Technology
Microsoft TechEd Women in Technology evening

You know what I’m talking about… marketing, HR, nursing, teaching and design. If their grades are good, then maybe they’re encouraged to consider being a doctor, lawyer, or a career in finance. And if they’re not so fortunate to be scooping the top marks at school, maybe retail or a career in hairdressing is okay?

There’s an entire industry that’s desperate for more women (in fact more smart people in general would be good), and its growing exponentially. Think Google, Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, and Apple. And then there are the home-grown stars like Xero, Rakon and Intergen. The technology industry is a vibrant, creative and rewarding choice for bright young minds and yet there are still few female graduates coming through our universities.

In fact, New Zealand tertiary enrolment statistics from 2013 show that women represent a mere 21% of enrolments in IT/ICT diplomas, and 25% of IT/ICT degrees. When you consider these numbers, it’s no wonder that women are so underrepresented in the ICT sector, with an average male to female industry ratio sitting at around 80:20. (You can read more on the gender gulf at the IITP Techblog.)

And it’s changed so much since the early days of small, windowless rooms where a bunch of nerdy developers would sit and thrash out code. These days you’re more likely to find flexible work environments, modern offices, a thriving social calendar and bikes in the foyer. Technology companies are having to compete to attract and retain the best talent and that trend is set to continue.

Next time you’re having a conversation with your daughter about choosing school subjects or researching the next school holiday programme, consider exposing them to sciences, computing and robotics. It’s time to stop stereotyping our girls and start opening their minds to a career in technology.

Posted by: Diane Hannay, Head of Marketing & Communications | 17 September 2014

Tags: Career, Women, Tech Ed


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