Talent is everywhere, opportunity is not

‘You can’t be what you can’t see’ is an expression that should be engrained in all of us as we think about the future of work and how we can bridge the gap on diversity in the workforce.

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Sadly, there is still the common misconception careers in technology simply refer to ‘coding’ and this industry is built for men. Even when I joined ANZ’s technology graduate program I thought you must need a technology degree - which is simply not the case.

"Jobs in tech are in demand but kids are not growing up wanting and ready to fill them." Oscar Pedroso Co-founder & CEO, Thimble.

While the collective efforts of several organisations have led to the increase of women in technology, and indeed leadership roles, the truth is we have a long way to go. In Australia we see a significant separation in the courses in which females dominate.

Women make up three quarters of bachelor students enrolling in health and education related fields. On the opposite end of the scale, only 20 per cent of females enrol in information technology (IT), engineering and related technologies. These figures are consistent across the past 20 years.

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Interestingly, research shows children begin forming an unconscious bias of what career they might take as early as primary school. Just like with dolls and Lego, children are led to believe (unconsciously or not), that there are jobs typically completed by ‘males’ and jobs typically completed by ‘females’ (noting the gender spectrum is far from just the two).

So the lingering questions remains, how do we highlight and inspire the next generation of women in tech?

Tapping into the untapped

Right now, the talent market is hot. This has been further intensified as a result of the pandemic shifting the entire work landscape.

A recent survey by PwC found roughly 75 per cent of Australians want to keep working from home in some capacity moving forward. As a result organisations are working hard to improve the Employee Value Proposition – looking at ways to attract, retain and grow their workforces in this current landscape. Those who succeed will also be the ones with the skills required for the future including a strong focus on skills in data, security and Cloud.

With women currently making up just 29 per cent of Australia’s tech sector, there’s an opportunity to fix this gap and simultaneously fix the current talent shortage.

Businesses need to get creative and think outside the box to encourage higher levels of female participation in technology.

Walking the walk

ANZ has partnered with the Victorian Government to launch the Digital Skills program. This program is designed to support and upskill mid-career workers who have been impacted by COVID-19, creating a new pool of talent to address our increasing demand for digital innovation and technology skills. Of this cohort, 75 per cent are female.

In ANZ’s 2021 tech graduate cohort, more than half (62 per cent) are female. The most recent cohort of the award-winning Return to Work program - which sees individuals coming back to work after an extended career break - includes 88 per cent women.   

ANZ has also partnered with Go Girl to challenge preconceptions of what a career in technology looks like. Go Girl is one of several initiatives making headway against a longstanding challenge: showing young girls who they can aspire to be in the tech sector and encouraging them to give STEAM (science, technology, engineering, architecture and maths) subjects in school a go. That’s why ANZ is so proud of our partnership with VICICT4Women.

As part of ANZ’s participation in Go Girl this year, students responded to the question “what would inspire you or other young females to explore STEAM subjects and a career in technology”. One entrant responded: “Our developed knowledge is key in this world, it’s something that no one can take away from us – and to use this as our faculty, as females, we become unstoppable.”

Danielle Darbyshire is Journey Expert for Talent Pipelines at ANZ

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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