Diversity In Tech Is About More Than Gender

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Jane Scowcroft believes that every career of the future will be a "tech job", in one way or another. So, in that respect she tells me, "the future looks brighter for everyone who touches tech."

As the Head of Product at CSIRO's Data61, Scowcroft is hopeful that we can work towards a more equitable workforce in the tech world - "but I think it will take thoughtfulness and the promise to address any unconscious bias that might exist".

Jane Scowcroft

Scowcroft was the only female in her computer engineering class, "which meant there was definitely no option of skipping class!" she tells me.

"I always loved learning how computers and software worked – there's an elegance to coding, and a deep satisfaction with debugging."

Scowcroft's journey with tech has evolved away from the computer, to being more people facing, as the lead Product at Data61.

"I find that understanding how people use and leverage technology has brought its own challenges and excitement."

But to get to the level Scowcroft has, mentors are important.

"There are so many phenomenal women (and men! Too many to name!) in this industry who have achieved absolutely phenomenal successes, and even better, those that are willing to share their failures and learnings," Scowcroft says.

"Luckily, in our world of social media, access to these influencers is readily available and easy to seek out. Their voices are democratized and their insights are important."

Scowcroft says it is also important to recognise that great mentors can be both male and female - and can exist outside tech or other male dominated industries.

The whole of the industry stands to gain from more diversity, Scowcroft points out. It's not just gender diversity we need to address.

"Everything from culture, background, nationality, age, to the unseen of cognitive diversity – we all have something to offer to this industry, and we need to welcome and embrace these differences."

Scowcroft tells us she'd love to see changes made to the silo-isation of the tech industry.

"Products directly reflect the team that created it. If the team is homogenous, the product or service won't be successful. It's the best future-proofing any team can do for itself."

There are many programs currently aiming to fix the lack of diversity in tech - and Scowcroft says CSIRO's national program - Science in Australia Gender Equity - takes a values and evidence based approach.

"However, I believe any initiative needs to address the whole system," she says. "To enact change, we can't just look at the minority."

"Diversity is a whole of system opportunity – not just a female or racial consideration. We need to look at diversity holistically if we're to address the issue successfully."

Jane Scowcroft recently spoke at the CSIRO Data61 'Women in Tech' event, which explored the barriers to gender diversity - with a particular focus on the technology industry.

Creating Opportunities For Women In Tech

"There are lots of women in technology," Karen Lawson, CEO of Slingshot tells me.

"So we need to shift our thinking from viewing male-dominated environments as a disadvantage. Especially if you harness not only the opportunities you have, but create your own!"

Read more

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Comments

    Working in tech in australia... it is extremely racially diverse. It is also very gender diverse, maybe not in programming, but BA, HR, design and marketing where women outnumber men.

      It's great that your workplace is like that! In my experience it's pretty rare. What area of tech do you work in/company do you work for, if you don't mind me asking?

        Software and application development in Australia. I've worked in a number of similiar roles in other companies, and have experienced the same. In the programming team there are very few women, but other roles in the team make up the difference.

    "If the team is homogenous, the product or service won't be successful. It's the best future-proofing any team can do for itself."

    Yeah the men who started microsoft, apple, ibm, oracle, dell, google, intel, amd, nvidia, ati, hp, amazon, facebook, instagram, snapchat and countless others were all just idiots. Delete it all and start again, but diverser-er.

      Firstly, This article takes nothing away from the people who have already built something. Those people are already celebrated within the industry.

      Secondly, all those companies have put out bad products or changes to existing products that was poorly received. Why? well alot of the time it is because the developers have the same voice shouting "yeah thats a great idea" over and over. Diversity isn't about one factor or another it is a difference of ideas to the norm. That outside opinion can cause people to rethink there idea and morph it into something better. Our different lives that shape us all can make us look at something different. So we should be inclusive to all voices and all of us will benefit.

        It stops being inclusive when you start solely employing people based on the colour of their skin or gender. Every other group that isnt part of these archetypes becomes unemployable. Diversity at the expense of ability is just going to make these companies produces inferior products due to inferior coding and inferior engineering.

          That has literally and never will be the case.
          Implying that a white man will be unemployable is pauline hanson "they are stealing our jobs" crazy. The tech industry is white men a quick google and i found multiple articles and polls pointing to in the US at least white males make up 85.5% of the tech industry.

          Diversity programs have never encouraged morons with a different gender or race, they are there to even a playing field that is leaning so far to white males you have to basically run up a wall to get anywhere if you are anything else.

            @rocketman People get into industries that interest them if you want to get more people who arent white males you need to advertise accordingly (one example of this is the ADF). Your arguement is the same one that the google memos were trying to address (until the SJWs shut down rational conversation). What do you propose when the tech industry reaches 50/50 male to female demographics at what point does it stop?

        You seem to miss the point that I'm lampooning the ridiculous statement that companies based on homogeneous teams won't be successful. This statement is so clearly and obviously false by my list of companies that started in EXACTLY that manner. Hey but don't let facts get in the way of SJW nonsense.

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