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.
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: