Wednesday, 28 February 2018 12:14

Women in tech push for more speaker roles at events Featured

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A group of women who work in the technology sector has set up a list of their peers who can serve as speakers at tech events, in order that they can be better represented at such events.

Vic ICT for Women, a professional organisation for women in IT, has kicked off The Click List — a country-wide list of highly qualified and engaging female speakers — in what it says is a move to "disrupt the male-dominated tech industry".

Rowena Murray (below), a board member of the organisation, told iTWire that the move was to meant to slowly increase female participation in tech conferences and other tech events.

She agreed that one needed to be somewhat pushy in order to redress the imbalance which was out of kilter at the moment.

“The lack of female representation at tech events is just the tip of the iceberg," Murray said. "Not only is there a shocking gender gap in the tech industry, but it’s rife with discrimination.

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"Women in tech are paid around 20% less than men, are criticised more harshly, and it’s much harder for women to break into leadership roles.”

She disagreed with the notion that women might be less in numbers in the tech industry simply they were often well-qualified to do numerous other jobs as well, whereas a majority of men who were well-qualified for tech jobs, were not suited to any other role.

The Click List has launched with women from a number of different disciplines and will expand over coming months.

Murray said a welcome trend was that some men were pushing for more diversity and seeking out women who could join the speaking panels at tech events.

“Australia has some of the most highly qualified, dynamic and interesting female tech speakers – we’re so sick of hearing the excuse that there were no women available," she said.

"It’s time to put an end to the ‘all white middle-aged man’ panel – event organisers can do better than that.”

A statement said some of the speakers already listed included Dr Caitlin Byrt, a research scientist and lecturer studying how to improve plants for future food security; Anna Leibel, the chief information officer at Uni Super; Dr Sara Dods, a technologist and innovation business leader who has worked on high-profile projects with Telstra Health and the CSIRO; and Dayle Stevens, divisional chief information officer at AGL, Board Member of Robogals and Girl Geek Academy Ambassador.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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