30 May 2023

Women in ICT champions work experience program, enlisting new soldiers to battle technology gender equity crisis

| Morgan Kenyon
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group of adults and schoolgirls

WIC opened its Work Experience Connection Program to local students in late April. Photo: Alexandra Orme Photography.

It’s no secret that Australia’s information technology industry remains a male-dominated space.

With only 31 per cent of our IT workforce identifying as female, it has never been more important to attract women and girls from around the country to pursue a career in technology.

Enter WIC: Women in ICT. This Canberra-grown organisation has championed gender equity in the workforce for decades, but its work is far from done.

In 2023, WIC has committed a large share of its time and resources to provide local female and gender-diverse students from years 9 to 12 with a key opportunity to get a taste of everything the ICT industry has to offer.

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WIC’s Work Experience Connection Program aims to encourage young women and non-binary students to pursue further coursework and careers in ICT by equipping them for and connecting them with real-world work experience opportunities.

Lynn White, the co-chair of WIC’s pipeline and advancement sub-committee, has played a vital role in bringing the non-profit’s latest initiative to life.

“WIC’s Work Experience Connection Program is all about fostering the next generation of women and gender-diverse people working in ICT,” she says.

woman in pink shirt smiling

Lynn White, a co-chair of WIC’s pipeline and advancement sub-committee, has played a major role in bringing the non-profit’s latest initiative to life. Photo: Alexandra Orme Photography.

“We act as a centrepiece, connecting these students from high schools across Canberra to private and public organisations for STEM-based work experience.”

But it’s not just about creating a network – WIC wants to show young women and their peers that a career in IT doesn’t mean coding in a dark room.

“Our industry is stereotyped quite heavily, but IT isn’t just programming, The spectrum is far broader than many realise,” Lynn says.

“ICT has a wealth of opportunities in project management, communications, security, graphic design and more.

“There’s also a lot of room for growth – you don’t have to be an expert in one field. You can taste it all.”

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A passion project two years in the making, the Work Experience Connection Program sees students spend five days in an ICT-related department.

They observe professionals at work, help with projects and research, and learn about different industry pathways based on their interests and skills.

This initiative also acts as an attention-grabber for government, Lynn says.

“We are working to make government more aware of ways they can support gender equity, not only through programs like ours, but commitments to better legislate for things like flexible working arrangements, workplace representation and appropriate care leave,” she says.

“Funding and resources are important and more needs to be dedicated to this space if we are to mediate the gender inequality crisis that we’ve been battling for many years now. There is a lot of talk, but we need action.

“WIC exists to break down barriers and foster confidence, knowledge and equality. It is our vision and mission to see women and gender-diverse people thriving across the ICT industry.”

WIC is currently inviting local ICT companies to join AFP and Transport Canberra as host organisations for the WIC Work Experience Connection Program. Register your interest here.

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Guess what – if the industry is short of women, it’s probably because they don’t want to go into it. It’s a soulless exercise in head bashing against your desk or server rack. Speaking from experience

And yet absolutely nothing gets done to get more men into teaching. Our young boys are severely lacking male role models.

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