OK, first things first. This article isn’t about Jurassic Park, The Land Before Time, or The Flintstones. (And if you leave me here because of that, so be it!)
It came about after a colleague made an offhand comment during a discussion about potential interview questions for a position that we recently had available. Someone suggested ‘name your favourite dinosaur’. Excellent question. To which said colleague replied ‘you can’t expect girls to be able to name a dinosaur’.
Sorry? What was that? I thought I just heard you say that a girl couldn’t name a dinosaur.
With some further thought and a few calming breathing exercises, I realised that it wasn’t meant at all how it came out. But still, it reminded me of an inspiring ‘Women in Tech’ panel discussion I saw at Pause Fest this year, and got me thinking about (sometimes unconscious) gender bias, and what it means in an industry like ours.
It’s true, men and women do tend to work in different industries, and the tech industry is dominated by men. But what is women’s work? Is it answering the phones? Is it making sure the communal office areas are clean and tidy or fetching coffee for the boss? It’s these kinds of stereotypes that hold women back from considering industries like tech and science, and it’s not just having a negative effect on the people involved, it has an effect on businesses and the digital economy too.
A growing industry
The technology space is changing at warp speed. Over 50,000 more workers will be needed by 2020 to fill the number of roles required (source). If we continue to pursue traditional methods of education and recruitment, the numbers just don’t add up, Australia won’t be sustainable in the digital world. With only 1 in 4 ICT graduates being women, this points to a big talent pool that isn’t being tapped into. Everyone is going to be competing for talent, so why not encourage women into your organisation? Don’t miss out on valuable skills and experience.
Build great teams
Diversity across the board, not just in gender, promotes a healthier, more balanced insight from your team. Too much of one thing leads to a skewed view of the world surrounding your organisation, and that includes your customer base. How can you provide a comprehensive solution, or build a new feature, for a section of society that isn’t even represented in your company structure?
It just makes sense. Teams made up of individuals from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences can help facilitate progress in all areas. The more perspectives you have to draw from can only increase your performance when it comes to problem-solving and brainstorming.
Build a great team that understands the world you are in.
Everyone needs to be part of the conversation
Take a look around the place where you work. Who is filling each role? Are there any women leaders in your management meetings? If not, why? Is it because of the women or the system? We aren’t looking for a hand up, just don’t push us down.
Don’t be a dinosaur. Embrace diversity.