Tag Archives: Women in Technology

women leaders in STEM

Connecting Women Leaders in STEM

Jo Stewart-Rattray heads ISACA’s Connecting Women Leaders in Technology program, dedicated to developing women leaders in STEM.

Deloitte Global projects less than 25% of IT jobs in developed countries will be held by women at the close of 2016. My hope is that the women graduating in STEM careers this year quickly find employment in roles they can enjoy, learn and grow from, and become successful in their careers.

Of course, my wish is the same for men who are also graduating at this exciting and disruptive time in business. However, the female student’s journey to graduation and beyond is very different to that of men.

For example, female students in STEM are often the only one in their class. I have sat in many boardrooms where I am the only woman in the room. I’ve also been the only woman at conferences on information security.

Over my 25 year career, not much has changed, and I know from speaking with other women leaders in STEM that they have had similar experiences. This is not just an Australian issue. It is a problem across the globe.

A study of 22,000 global public companies by Peterson Institute for International Economics and EY shows that the net profit margin of a company can be increased by more than 6% if a company has a minimum of 30% women in the C-suite.

Most importantly, without women in the workforce, we simply won’t have the resources to continue to fuel the job economy and innovation.

So what can be done to develop women leaders in STEM?

In my experience, a multi-faceted approach is needed. It involves:

  • businesses providing flexible work options;
  • connecting their employees with both men and women leaders in STEM for mentoring;
  • sponsoring and encouraging young professionals to understand their potential career paths and rewards; and
  • instilling in female students the confidence to follow their passion and be resilient.

In terms of mentoring, I learned early on to find men and women role models and mentors. I was able to do this through ISACA, a professional organisation for IT audit, risk, governance and cybersecurity professionals. My membership and involvement in ISACA enabled me to network with local and global peers, who really helped encourage and guide me in my career.

And now, I am incredibly humbled to spearhead ISACA’s Connecting Women Leaders in Technology program, which aims to inspire and engage women to grow and become leaders in our field.

It has been an enriching and rewarding experience to see young professionals excel by following their passion. 

So my message to future women leaders in STEM is to ‘Go for it!’ Have the resilience and confidence to seek the career you want, and find a mentor or bright star who can help guide you along the way.

Together, we will all prosper and learn from one another, as we innovate and create in the years to come.

Jo Stewart-Rattray

women leaders in STEM

CISA, CISM, CGEIT, CRISC, FACS CP

Board director of ISACA

Director of information security and IT assurance at BRM Holdich, Australia

Hear from other Australian leaders on how to support women in STEM in the Women in STEM Thought Leadership Series:

Women in STEM: the revolution ahead

ICT

On the cusp of mass cultural change

The Australian Computer Society has estimated that an additional 100,000 new information and communications technology (ICT) professionals will be needed in Australia over the next five years alone. While this industry continues to grow and impact upon the Australian economy, only 2.8% of females choose ICT as their field.

In my role as head of the School of Computer Science at the University of Adelaide, I hear every year from young women who have been told by someone important in their lives – perhaps a teacher, a family member or a careers counsellor – that computer science is not a job that women do. However, we know that companies with strong gender diversity are more likely to be successful and have higher financial returns. We need to broaden participation in creating and driving technology innovation in our country so that it is reflective of the diverse perspectives and voices that represent our community.

How can we address this gender imbalance within ICT? I believe that the answer lies in our new Australian curriculum and in increasing support for our education system.

Australia is on the verge of a significant change – all Australian students will soon be learning the fundamental concepts of computer science, and will move from being users of technology to creators of their own technology. This is an incredible opportunity for us as a nation to change our culture for women in technology, and more broadly, women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

Changing stereotypes in STEM on screen

Children start forming their views on what careers are, and whether they are for a man or a woman, from an early age. These views are reinforced by messages from all directions. Very few family films show women in positions of power, or with active careers; only 45% of females in family films are shown to have careers, while STEM male roles outnumber STEM female roles by five to one.

These unconscious biases impact how we, and our children, develop our understanding of who we are, and who we can be. We urgently need to address this if we are to see the diverse technology community that we need.

Connecting STEM professionals with schools

Australian teachers need ongoing support from our industry and university sectors. We need to collectively engage with our schools to help teachers understand and guide technology creation.

Programs such as CSIRO’s Scientists and Mathematicians in Schools program, FIRST Australia and Code Club Australia, among others, provide valuable opportunities to volunteer and support your local communities in understanding STEM. These programs help explore the amazing ability of technology to solve community problems, and work to engage our students. All of our students.

Associate Professor Katrina Falkner

Head of School of Computer Science, University of Adelaide

Read next: The University of Newcastle’s Dr Nikola Bowden addresses misconceptions about the biggest issues for women in STEM.

People and careers: Meet women who’ve paved brilliant careers in STEM here, find further success stories here and explore your own career options at postgradfutures.com.

Spread the word: Help Australian women achieve successful careers in STEM! Share this piece on women in ICT using the social media buttons below.

More Thought Leaders: Click here to go back to the Thought Leadership Series homepage, or start reading the Graduate Futures Thought Leadership Series here.

Diversity brings a competitive advantage

Experts increasingly cite diverse thinking as key to securing long-term organisational success. McKinsey and Company‘s 2015 Diversity Matters report found that across the Canada, Latin America, the United Kingdom and the USA, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity were 15% more likely to have financial returns above their national industry medians. But with women comprising a mere 20% of the Australian technology sector, a lack of gender diversity is threatening the competitive advantage of Australian organisations.

Enterprises have long preached the importance of gender diversity. But were their efforts genuine? Or could they have been a strategic guise to project false integrity across an expectant market? There were certainly individuals championing female progression. But the movement was not perceived as integral to success, and so did not become a key priority for most organisations beyond façade – until now.

Times are changing, and innovating to sustain a competitive advantage is now crucial for an enterprise’s survival. With diverse thinking increasingly perceived as a tool to cultivate innovation effectively and inexpensively – why wouldn’t organisations sincerely support female progression within the workplace? After all, it translates into business benefit.

With a more prevalent understanding that female input is essential for a prosperous future, impassive words are finally being put into action. Organisations are now examining approaches to support and progress women within the workplace, and to encourage women to consider a STEM pathway.

Unfortunately, changing business priorities do not always equate to a sudden change in mindset across an entire organisation. Yet with leadership and business strategy genuinely backing female advancement, an unprecedented opportunity presents itself for women – and should be leveraged.

These issues form some of the key themes at the 2016 Women in Tech. conference, which is bring together a group of amazing women and men to address problems in the sector and help all in attendance build their skills and careers. Click here for more information about Women in Tech.

– Yasmine Finbow

Women in STEM: Mathidle Desselle

Women in STEM: Mathilde Desselle

Featured image above by Nathan Barden

Desselle is a programme coordinator for outreach for the Community for Open Antimicrobial Drug Discovery (CO-ADD) at The University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience. She is looking for the next antibiotic in engaging academic chemists worldwide in an open-access compound screening program and setting up international partnerships. Desselle has eight years’ experience driving engagement strategies for medical research programs and facilities. She is passionate about finding innovative approaches to drive transformational change and solutions to diagnose, track and treat infectious diseases.

Desselle is a board director for the Queensland-based Women in Technology peak industry body for women in science and technology careers, and for the Tech Girls Movement foundation, promoting positive role models to encourage and raise awareness of STEM careers for girls.

Desselle completed a double Masters degree in bioengineering and business from the Catholic University of Lille and a Masters of International Economics from the University of the Littoral Opal Coast in France in 2008.

What do you think is the most important character trait in a successful scientist?

“I would say having a drive. It takes passion, tenacity, and a vision to lead successful research initiatives, and I believe having an articulate “why” is essential to feed them. Don’t we always go back to what drives us when celebrating successful outcomes and overcoming rejection and failures?”

What is one thing you would change to improve the gender balance in senior ranks of scientists?

“Ending the ‘manel’. I would ask the 32 Australian universities and research institutes who are part of the SAGE pilot, an initiative of the Australian Academy of Science and the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering that addresses gender equity in the science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) sectors, to make the following pledge: striving to achieve gender balance in all conferences and panel discussions they are hosting and organising.”

What support structures did/do you have in place that have facilitated your success?

“I will forever be grateful to the mentors who have pushed me outside of my comfort zone. We also have world-class facilities in Australia enabling ground-breaking research and innovative collaborative projects. I am looking for the next antibiotic to combat drug-resistant infections, and it takes advanced scientific, technological and administrative systems to function.”

If at times your confidence is a little shaky, where do you turn?

“I can count on a very supportive network of women and men around me, on their experiences and their expertise. There is always someone I can turn to for addressing concerns or uncertainties. I also practice mindfulness and Harvard Business School social psychologist Professor Amy Cuddy’s “power poses”. Watch her Ted Talk on body language and challenge your inner wonder woman!”

What is your ideal holiday – and do you work on your holiday?

“My ideal holiday is being out horse riding on trails or beaches all day in New Zealand or in the USA. After I get off the saddle, I still follow up on pressing matters, and never lose an occasion to meet or connect with someone I could follow up with for professional matters, so I guess I rarely completely switch off.”

Follow Mathilde Desselle on Twitter: @mathildesselle

This article was first published by Women in Science AUSTRALIA. Read the original article here.