Empowering equal opportunity in IT

By Kristy Simpkin, Co-President, Women in Technology
Thursday, 06 July, 2017

Empowering equal opportunity in IT

Advancing, connecting and empowering women in technology should be a career-spanning effort.

We aspire for a day when we won’t need a Women in Technology (WiT) association — when women are equally represented, have the same opportunities and take home the same pay. But the research tells us we are far from parity. We are under-represented in technology, opportunities are often elusive and salaries can be meagre when compared with our male counterparts.

According to the latest statistics from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), “women make up half of the nation’s workforce but earn only 77 per cent of men’s average full-time income”. This equates to the average full-time female employee taking home $26,853 less than the average male employee in 2015–16, according to the WGEA.

Earlier this year we surveyed our WiT members and asked them: “in your position, what inhibits you from achieving your goals?” One-third (32.48%) of respondents said that a lack of opportunities were holding them back. Some attributed it to old boys’ networks, attitudes towards part-time workers or significant challenges in balancing work/home life.

Fortunately, as a woman working in technology, I am one of the lucky ones. I work for a progressive and forward-thinking organisation that embraces diversity with a mandate of ‘all roles flex’. And it’s not just lip service. I have been promoted, respected, rewarded and given complex and meaningful projects despite transitioning through maternity leave and part-time status. I have the option to work from home. My gender does not dictate my success in the organisation. My family commitments are not viewed as inconvenient. My workplace is also fully supportive of my role as co-president of WiT. They get it. So why are so many other organisations missing the point?

And is it just the organisations behind the under-representation and poor pay? Are we failing to sell technology to the younger female generation? Are women opting out of the industry because of challenges with childcare? Missing out on opportunities due to a lack of confidence in their abilities? Or stifled by fear from negative workplace experiences of the past? Is the technology boys’ club real or imagined?

WiT tackles each of these issues. WiT is the peak industry body for women in technology and life sciences within Queensland. Our vision is to advance, connect and empower women in technology and life sciences. Founded 20 years ago with the support of just 10 women, WiT is now a strong network of more than 5019 subscribers, members and affiliates.

We’ve recognised that women need support at different stages throughout their careers — stepping up, starting up, stepping back in or stepping out. They might need a ‘step up’ to get to their next role, or maybe they are returning to work after extended leave and need to reignite their career path. No matter which stage of their career they find themselves in, WiT offers programs to empower women — from board readiness through to one-on-one mentoring.

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