Tag Archives: IT

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

STEM talent

What can STEM learn from sport?

Australia is a passionate nation.

The recent Olympics triggered my thinking on how passionate we are about winning. I remember a time when Australia was unable to compete against the world class American, Russian and German teams.  Our nation reacted by establishing the government funded Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra (AIS). The AIS acknowledges they are responsible and accountable for Australia’s international sporting success. Australia’s top sporting talent is selected, nurtured, and trained for the purpose of competing against the world’s best. Their success is celebrated, and the cycle continues.

Growing the number of STEM experts in our workforce is no different. If Australia wants to be recognised as a world-class STEM nation, commitment to developing our talent through established strategic programs funded by sustainable investment is essential.

When measuring STEM talent, our focus is on numbers that come out of university. However, consider our athletes for a moment. They have already been training for the better part of a decade.  They don’t arrive at the institute ready to be trained. Junior athletics, swimming squads and after-school sport training are part of most schools and parents’ agenda to develop their children’s skills from a very young age.  If the success of sport is to be replicated for STEM disciplines, then school years should not be overlooked.

Creating a foundation for young women

Traditional education should always be respected and never replaced, however there is always room for flexibility and balance. My own career in IT was shaped by the foundations provided to me by my high school environment. The all-girls school I attended offered Computing Studies as a subject for the Higher School Certificate.  It was only the second year it was offered and approximately 20 students signed up.  It was here, along with my home environment of a tech-savvy family, where I developed foundations in IT.

I pursued a tertiary education in commerce as I initially had no interest in computer science. Nevertheless, my first significant role was working as a computer engineer in IT – a job I landed based on the foundational skills I had acquired through my high school studies. I had found a position where I was able to solve problems while continuing to learn and gain additional certifications. I was the only female in a team of 12, but I didn’t focus on the gender inequality at the time.

Developing Australia’s STEM talent

Innovation requires novel thinking and raising Australia’s STEM IQ to world-class requires a considered and committed long term strategy, including initiatives for supporting women in STEM.

I work for Deloitte in the technology industry alongside women who have studied econometrics, law, accounting, engineering and arts. Deloitte recognises the importance of driving Australia’s STEM agenda and (amongst other initiatives) have selected two female directors from cybersecurity and technology consulting to share their expertise and experiences with young Australian women through an online mentoring platform, Day of STEM.

Our aim is to inspire Australia’s future STEM generation and highlight the real-life opportunities available in professional services firms like Deloitte.

Elissa Hilliard

Partner, Risk Advisory, Deloitte Australia

Read next: Chair of ATSE’s Gender Equity Working Group, Dr Mark Toner, compares the national need for women in STEM with the barriers faced by women on a personal level.

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 STEM talent 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.

International Women's Day at Monash

International Women’s Day at Monash

The reflections of these women align with many of the priorities of International Women’s Day, including: helping women and girls achieve their ambitions; promoting gender-balanced leadership; valuing women and men’s contributions equally; and creating inclusive, flexible cultures. 

This video was first published by Monash University on 7 March 2016. Watch the original video here.