Being the only girl in the group reflections

Last week our Women in ICT group lunch event was titled “Being the only girl in the group: strategies for success”. I presented the attendees with some scenarios, gleaned from a Resource Booklet for Female Graduate Students, created by the School of IS at another university in 2002. Students discussed the scenario’s (eg. my ideas are overlooked, trivialized. My group excludes me. I keep being assigned the note taking tasks, being criticized more than others) and provided strategies for dealing with this. Several things struck me. Each of these women discussed the point that it may be more trust at stake than gender. Their strategies involved being prepared, taking the lead, gaining the groups confidence. We are still only 18% of the Faculty, but what a positive and powerful 18% these women are. The second thing that was important last week was that our lunch was held in a new Women’s space on campus. I remembered my recollections of the Women’s room in the university I attended in the 1970s. Some of the students were thrilled to find this space, with a kitchen attached, where they could work or socialise. We talked about the relatively short time that women have been permitted to study on university campuses (120 yrs). We have come a long way as a group – women are more than 56% of the cohort of most university student bodies these daysin Australia- but we are also aware that there is a long road ahead to normalise the expectation that ICT is a career for women. I left the lunch feeling very positive about the outlook of these women, however the task ahead for all of us is to alter societal stereotypes and expectations of careers for women.

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September 17, 2012. Tags: , , . Gender, ICT. Leave a comment.

Great idea, but where is the T for Technology (STEM)

The Parliamentary “Friends of Women in Science, Maths and Engineering” group has been launched by Senator The Hon Chris Evans. Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research.

Great! We need to shine a light on opportunities for women, celebrate successes, promote entry into these traditionally male areas … but… where is the T for technology? 

STEM is the traditional acronym used worldwide, and massess of research has already been conducted in STEM related fields. We have less than 20% female representation in most ICT positions, less than 5% in the more technical areas, yet the T was left out of this group. Why? [see earlier blog]

In the US it is all about STEM, and 2012 Generation STEM was just published showing that GIRLS LIKE STEM. This Girl Scout Research Institute report offers a ‘strength based perspective’ and found that overwhelmingly girls ARE interested in STEM, they want to use it to help people, however many of the students are also high achievers and have many career options available to them. They also found that percieved gender barriers are still high, and posit that many young women internalise these outdated subtle cultural stereotypes. We are not the USA, we do however have strong similarities with their culture, and our women in ICT experiences mimic theirs.

Lets get the T put into this group and empower, encourage and grow Women in STEM for “future productivity and global competitiveness”. Just as we are doing now through our Swinburne Women in ICT group as well as the Digital Divas Club.

June 21, 2012. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.