Event organisers who claim they ‘can’t find any women’ are fast running out of excuses, with a number of new resources opening up promoting female speaking talent.
The latest is The Click List, and comes from Vic ICT 4 Women to focus on STEM events. It’s a free resource, offering female tech speaker suggestions for those organising panel sessions and other events in the sector. It aims to expand over the coming months, and already features speakers including research scientist Dr Caitlin Byrt, Uni Super CIO Anna Leibel and AGL CIO Dayle Stevens.
I spoke to Rowena Murray (pictured above), a Vic ICT 4 Women board member and key creator of the list, who told me it’s time to end the ‘all white middle-aged man’ panel.
She said the list came out of pure frustration at seeing the same lack of diversity repeated at events over and over again.
“The hope really is that if someone needs say a blockchain specialist for an event, they can just tap that into Google, come across our site, and find half a dozen or so female speakers available that they can add to their existing shortlist.”
She said that while they want the list to be as strong as possible, the list aims to attract experts, over experienced speakers, with Vic ICT 4 Women keen to hear from a wide range of age groups, ethnic groups and backgrounds.
Rowena believes the lack of female representation in tech events merely shows one part of underrepresentation and discrimination in the sector. “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 said.
Vic ICT 4 Women’s own research into the ICT sector over an 18 month period found that despite a 70% growth in ICT jobs since 1996, women still fill 16% of roles. And once in the workplace, Vic ICT 4 Women found that women are 74% more likely to be criticised on their character during performance reviews.
It also found that the retention rate for women in ICT roles is low, with 56% leaving their jobs at the mid-career level, and more than half (51%) leaving the industry completely.
“It’s disheartening because there are so many talented women who have the potential to make Australia’s tech industry great, but they’re not being supported or celebrated,” said Rowena.
You can access The Click List here.