Unconscious Bias

There are just so many articles written about women and tech. We admit that there is a gender gap in hiring, a gender gap in pay and a gender gap in management. We look at the stats and lament at the numbers of girls choosing to start a STEM based degree, and then lament again at the numbers that complete those degrees.

In May 2014, Google released its diversity figures, and admitted in an official blog, that women make up only 30% of their entire workforce, and if you restricted the search to technical roles, women make up a mere 17%. This is from an organisation that has spent millions on initiatives aimed at young women. Closer to home, Absolute IT released a report showing that women held just 21% of tech jobs in New Zealand.

Where has it all gone wrong?

Actually, scratch that, there are far too many articles already out there bringing doom and gloom, i’m going to take a moment to celebrate some of the great initiatives i’ve been involved with here in NZ, initiatives that will turn this ship around.

She# is a networking event with a difference. Recognising there is a misconception about what it means to ‘be in tech’, She# brings together academics, women already working in the tech industry and most importantly, high school girls who aren’t quite sure about their career options yet. Each event has interesting speakers, and plenty of time to talk.

As a woman working in tech, I can’t help but notice the lack of other women in the room when it comes to conferences and tech events. Refactor aims to change this. With most of the tickets designated for women only, Refactor brings together engaging speakers and a room full of women already working in the tech industry. (There are tickets for men too, just not as many!)

And finally, if you are planning a panel or a conference, and you find that all your speakers are male, then Anna Guenther, CEO of Pledgeme, has something for you. Inspired by an all-male cover on Idealog magazine, Anna crowdsourced “Inspiring Women in New Zealand“, and at last count had managed to find over 500 women to add to the list.

These are just a few of the things out there. New Zealand was the first country in the world to give women the vote, I believe we can be the first country in the world to get rid of this pesky ICT gender gap.


[Originally posted on TechBlog]

Sunday morning musings

I just recklessly retweeted this Jezebel article just now. It was tweeted by an awesome account that I follow called @STEMWomen.

Then I thought about it. On the surface, this is a win, a victory for women and girls, and maybe service providers in that area will think again when they try to offer a “boys only” class.

I mean, I can just hear the “other side” now, but what about all the “girls only” classes that are everywhere.

It’s kinda like this meme that has been doing its rounds:


Yes, we can have girls only coding classes, and girls only robotics classes. Because we didn’t start off at the same place. When all the little girls, from when they were babies, were told to play with dolls and boy were given transformers, then, yes, the little girl is not going to consider the robotics class, and they are sure as heck not wanting to go to one full of boys that think they know it all already! (I know this intimately, as I am a parent to a boy who thinks he knows it all already)

Which brings me to my actual musing about the article.

This particular case was a win for that little girl. It is also, incidentally, a win for all the girls in that area who were too afraid to speak out.

What happens everywhere else?

Where there isn’t a brave kid who is willing to stand up for equity (it doesn’t have to be a girl, just anyone who is willing to call it), or lets be honest here, a stroppy parent who wants to stand up for equity.

Service Providers need to do a bit better. If they are wanting to do a gender segregated classes, fine, do two of them. I think we are doing quite a lot better here in NZ, hopefully more stories like this will start to surface.