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IWD 2024: Fostering diversity and inclusivity within the tech sector
Thu, 7th Mar 2024

As we celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) 2024, we stand again at the intersection of reflection and action. This year’s theme, "Inspire Inclusion," calls us to not just acknowledge or raise awareness, but to actively champion the value of women's contributions, where every voice reverberates, and every talent finds its stage.

The use of the word ‘Inspire’ in this year’s theme is important. It should spark in all of us a sense of action and enthusiasm, driving us to shape a more equal landscape, especially in the buzzing world of tech. Innovation is in our DNA in this industry.  We know that diversity and inclusion ignite innovation by bringing together different perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds, leading to new and creative solutions. 

Inspire inclusion through action

So, in the vibrant landscape of technology, where advancement knows no bounds, raising female representation is imperative. Unfortunately, women make up only 15 per cent of employees in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce. The gap widens when career progression is considered, with only 23 per cent of senior managers and eight per cent of chief executive officers reported as women within STEM organisations.

As pioneers of change, technology leaders can dismantle barriers and pave pathways for women to flourish. While there is much work to do and currently being done involving the ecosystem around the tech sector to create opportunities for women to enter the industry early in their career, there is another way. One approach is to cultivate an environment where talent knows no boundaries and where potential supersedes experience.

Believe in potential more than experience

Attracting women to the tech sector mid-career offers an exciting opportunity to diversify perspectives, infuse fresh talent, and invigorate innovation within our industry.

Consider the journey of Dee Breakell, Lead Threat Intelligence Analyst at Slipstream Cyber (part of Interactive), whose transition from agriculture to cybersecurity shows just how versatile skills can be across sectors.

"Moving from agriculture to cybersecurity, I've found that the risk mitigation, risk management and critical thinking skills I honed while navigating an unpredictable farming environment, and other such challenges, remain at the core of my role. Whether it's defending against cyber threats or mitigating digital risks, my experience in agriculture has equipped me with a unique perspective and skill set crucial to tackling the dynamic landscape of cybersecurity."

Truly embrace flexible work

In our quest for inclusivity, let us not overlook the pivotal role of flexibility, especially with the backdrop of organisations mandating employees back to the office.

Recognising the multifaceted roles women undertake, embracing flexible work arrangements becomes more than just a choice for progress. We know that 70 per cent of primary carers in Australia are women. Out of those, 63 per cent participate in the workforce. A genuinely flexible workplace can catalyse a shift in societal norms by providing both parents with the opportunity to balance their work and life priorities effectively and without compromise.

Remember, the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated that for many roles, people can perform their jobs effectively without the need to be in the office every day or adhere strictly to a 9-5 schedule.

Don’t underestimate the power of a mentor

My message to fellow women in the industry is to find someone who believes in you more than you believe in yourself and look for ways to actively lift each other up. I’m a big advocate for creating female leadership and sponsorship programs in which women feel empowered to take the next step in their careers.

Through mentorship programs and sponsorship initiatives, we can cultivate a culture where every woman finds her voice, her path, and her place at the table.

What can we take away from International Women’s Day this year?

For International Women’s Day 2024, let us take this opportunity to script a new chapter in our history. We can do this if we carry forward the lessons learned, continue the progress made, and acknowledge there is still work to be done. Inclusion in the tech sector or any sector isn't about finding a perfect solution, but rather about the ongoing commitment to taking action and amplifying the voices and opportunities for women.