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Diversify or fail: Govt. puts $8m towards women in tech grants

11 Oct 2017

It is vital that all Australians are equipped with the skills they need for the jobs of the future.

That’s the word from Acting Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, who recently announced the second round of the Government’s $8 million Women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and Entrepreneurship (WISE) grants program.

In particular, we need to get more girls and women engaged with STEM in schools, says Cash. 

To do this, the government established WISE grants, first announced in December 2016, which, so far, has seen approximately $4 million awarded to a diverse range of projects.

These projects include coding workshops for teachers and primary school girls, mentoring for female entrepreneurs in rural and remote Queensland, drone flying and programming camps in Northern Australia, and a new ‘Superstars of STEM’ initiative to raise the profile of Australia’s women in science, technology and engineering.

The Minister says eliminating barriers for women’s participation in STEM education and careers was a key component of the WISE program.

“The WISE program supports activities to get girls and women interested and involved in STEM education and careers. This includes helping them develop entrepreneurial skills and professional networks, paving the way for more Australian women to start their own businesses and become entrepreneurs,” adds Cash.

“As a Government we understand the importance of ensuring our young women have female role models in science and research, entrepreneurship and corporate leadership to look to for inspiration.”

Tim Reed, the CEO of MYOB, an Australian accounting company with a global presence and 1.2 million small business customers,  congratulates the government on this additional funding. 

“Australian businesses will fail to reach their full potential unless we create diverse and inclusive workplaces. As a tech business, building diverse and inclusive teams is a competitive advantage for us, but we know that women make up less than a third of university graduates in STEM,” states Reed.

“MYOB is paying particular attention to some of the inherent challenges in our education, training and organisational structures which limit opportunities for women and hold all of us back from achieving our potential.”

To address these challenges, Reed introduces the company’s ‘DevelopHER’ initiative, a strategy seeking to find alternate methods for recruitment within the business

“[It’s] a 360-hour paid internship program designed to re-skill women who are seeking to re-enter the workforce as software developers.”

Reed concludes, “We believe that the wide array of perspectives that result from diversity promotes innovation and business success, and we need to ensure there is good female representation in technology jobs of the future.”

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