A global question that can’t be escaped at Techweek’17 is, "how to fix the gender imbalance in technology and innovation globally?" It’s been awesome to have so many women involved in bringing Techweek’17 to life, including the entire project team, and a board featuring the likes of Francis Valintine and recent inductee to the New Zealand Business Hall of Fame, Mavis Mullins, and yet we are in no doubt that we’re still a minority in this industry.
Across more than 150 Techweek events all over New Zealand this week, we’d still like to have seen more women – as speakers, on panels, in workshops, and in the media. How can we do this? How can we help?
We’re at the tail end of Techweek now, and there have been some great events tackling this problem. Better still; there have been plenty of events across the country aimed at encouraging school-age girls into technology careers. With momentum like this, it seems a feasible goal to eliminate the gender gap in New Zealand tech within a decade. Let’s try.
Yesterday morning at the Dowse Art Gallery in Lower Hutt, the Women in Tech Leadership Breakfast kicked off with a slide that said, “if girls can see it, they can be it,” which perfectly captures the importance of increasing the visibility of women in tech: so the girls that follow them have more role models and subsequently, broader horizons. At the same event, the twittersphere lit up in awe of Dr Jen Blank, an Astrobiologist at the NASA funded Ames Research Centre. We’re so ready to live in a future where female astrobiologists aren’t a rare breed.
Up in Auckland, Francis Valintine hosted a wonderful panel of speakers at Breaking Stereotypes | an Insider view of Women in Tech. In her opening talk, she offered the following words of advice, “find your tribe, and get a group of people that support you,” - this idea of creating a supportive environment for the betterment of all is not only for women in technology, though. One of the intentions of Techweek is to foster a supportive, growing tech environment in New Zealand for all – regardless of gender.
If you’re wondering how you can speed the arrival of our country’s genderless tech future, going to events like this is the ideal place to start. After all, if we want to solve this global challenge in our own backyard, than it has to be a nationwide goal, central to the entire tech industry. We can only start with conversation, debate, engagement, and what better place to do that than Techweek'17?