At Intopia, it’s part of our mission to help make positive change wherever we can. Not just on particular days, but every single day. One of the areas we want to see change in is women in technology. We want to see women in more leadership roles, driving innovation and taking charge in improving accessibility and inclusive design for all. It’s something we strive to champion and contribute to. We press for progress, which coincidentally is the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day.
A survey conducted by ISACA last year identified three key issues for women in technology:
- Lack of mentors
- Lack of female role models in the field
- Gender bias in the workplace
Work has to happen on addressing these issues every single day. Equality is a personal issue to many of us at Intopia, and it’s something through our organisational commitments that we will continue to address and push for.
Although we’re a small team, we’re a diverse and innovative team. We asked our Accessibility Services Director Sarah Pulis, and Digital Accessibility Sensei Allison Ravenhall, about why they got into the technology sector, and what we can all do to press for progress.
What inspired you to be a part of the tech industry?
Allison: My parents. I grew up with computers in my house, which was rare in the 1980s. Mum and Dad encouraged me and my sister to pursue our interests, so I played with space Lego while she played with Barbies. My school gave me lots of opportunities to excel in STEM subjects, I was always strong in maths, science and IT.
Sarah: I was inspired by the human side of technology, and the potential for technology to make a difference. When choosing a degree, I wasn’t interested in a straight Computer Science course. It was when I heard about Cognitive Science, a discipline that combined technology with psychology, logic, linguistics and philosophy studies that my interest was sparked. Back then I knew nothing about inclusive design. But now that I look back at my choices, I realise that my professional now was perfectly in line with what inspired me to start studying technology.
What can we do to increase the visibility and number of women in tech?
Allison: Start early! Normalise girls’ participation in STEM subjects. Smash the assumption that all women will have children and/or career breaks. Mentor graduates and new starters, hear their concerns and prevent attrition. Tell girls about the breadth of jobs in IT, because we’re not all hard-core coders. There are plenty of opportunities to be creative and compassionate too.
Sarah: To increase the number of women in technology, we must break down the stereotypes and move beyond some of the gender biases we still have, particularly with children. We also need to talk less about the technology itself and more about how it can be used – the fun cool projects we all love to work on.
This year’s theme is #PressForProgress. What can we do to help make that progress happen?
Allison: I never set out to change the world by being a woman in IT, I just followed my geeky, techy heart. We just need to keep encouraging girls to do the same.
Sarah: I believe we need more inclusive work environments. We need to embrace the differences in ourselves and in others, and recognise that these differences make us stronger individually and collectively. We need to make it easier for those with families to succeed.
You can find out more about International Women’s Day through the International Women’s Day website, or follow the #IWD2018 hashtag on social media.
Are you looking to make change for women in the technology sector? Contact us, we’re keen to hear what you’re working on and hopefully we’ll be able to help out.