Getting Ladies to Dig the Tech
Gender diversity is a subject that is on the forefront of most employers’ minds and the gap is significant in the Information and Technology Industry. Only 17% of information and technology roles are filled by women across the average company, and SEEK’s stats do not fare any better.
Research suggests that organisations that respect and value the diversity brought by both women and men are better able to attract and retain high performers and improve operational performance.
The need for gender diversity is defined on the website Hire More Women In Tech :
Hiring more women in design, product, project management, community, and leadership positions in general creates a healthier workplace. A diverse workplace is proven to get better results, more accurately reflects your customer/client base, and ensures a wider range of experience.
So here’s the difference between us and the average company: We’re doing something about it.
In our latest Hackathon, Sarah Redmond from our Learning and Development team decided to turn her idea into reality by developing a pilot program to get ladies interested in technology while they are still at school… and Camp SEEK was born! Our pilot program kicked off in the September school holidays 2015. We were looking for Year 9–11 students who had chosen STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects, or expressed an interest to choose STEM subjects to join a week long program held at SEEK headquarters in Melbourne. (The girls did need to know how to script/code already or be willing to do an online course before the program starts).
Seek is in a unique position as a highly regarded and known tech company to build a female network to encourage STEM careers. By piloting, then partnering with other tech companies, we can ensure that we demystify tech as a “boys club”, and empower females to add their ideas and skills to benefit our industry.
Camp SEEK saw the girls learning about Product, Design and Technology from industry leaders at SEEK and other companies. The schedule was something like this:
Day One — an introduction to the tech industry and a challenge to “think differently” by working through agile principles and seeing which digital trends are changing the way we interact. In the afternoon, they got to reverse engineer a product and look at product ecosystems.
To finish the day , the girls had the opportunity to talk to a panel of women who work in technology within Melbourne to give them an understanding of how they developed their careers in the information and technology space and what barriers they faced.
Day Two — the morning session was hands on with User Experience/Design around information architecture and how data plays a role in making product decisions, and how to show data effectively across different mediums.
In the afternoon, our Product team walked them through a cross disciplinary approach to product management starting with ideas, identifying the minimum viable product, planning iterations and releases.
Day Three — setting up a tech environment and building the basics of a website anchor the morning, then in the afternoon the ladies spent time exploring uncommon careers (QA, UI, UX, BA) and get to play with an emerging technology for an hour of innovation.
Days Four and Five- The learnings from the first three days can then be applied at the Create-a-thon. The Create-a-thon is a two day project sprint where teams pitch a problem solving idea, recruit specialist skills and build their project with the help of mentors.
At the end of the last day the girls presented creations to the judges, who chose winners, and then celebrate their success with the SEEK staff, friends and family.
The ultimate aim of the Camp SEEK program is to provide an environment for girls to explore and enjoy technology, to understand that it is a disciplined, varied and valid career path for females, and to build relationships with mentors within the industry to help them reach their career goals.
It really is the beginning of something big!
Written by Venera Lekay, Digital Producer