The #womenwhocode and #codelikeagirl movement has inspired a surge of young women to unleash their talents in technology. However, according to the Australian Bureau Statistics, as of August 2017, less than a quarter of computer system design and similar roles were held by women. Have we made real progress in achieving gender parity in tech?
We asked Navi Kaur, Senior Analyst Engineer at National Australia Bank (NAB), about her opinion on the underrepresentation of women in the tech industry and how to overcome expectations and make a breakthrough in your career.
It’s a well-known fact that women are severely underrepresented in the tech industry. Why do you think this is the case?
When I was young, we were told to select a profession where we only have to work 9 to 5pm so that we can look after the family. Usually with technical jobs one must work after hours or on the weekend.
There’s definitely a heightened drive for increasing gender inequality in STEM across the globe – are you seeing any differences in the workplace compared to when you started out in your career?
For sure. Times have changed now. Looks like girls are getting more exposure to all kinds of jobs which were thought to be “male only” in my time. Companies are making sure they give equal opportunity to female and male when selecting people for interviews and then jobs. Recently one of my male colleagues went on 10 weeks paternity leave to look after his young son while his wife went back to work – this was unheard of in my time. I can also see women in many highly technical roles these days (including me)
One of the key challenges for working women is the expectation for women to be homemakers and responsible for raising children. How has this affected your career?
Women have to take time off especially when having children and then raising them atleast up to 1-2 years. For us it was a norm that women stay home and look after the child when he/she was sick. I lost many promotions as I had to take time off to look after my sick kids. I also didn’t move to a higher paid job when my children were young as I could not afford longer travel times associated with higher paying job.
Is there a particular female role model that has inspired you throughout your career?
My aunt was a Professor of law. She was successful in her career and still looked after her family very well. I could see she had a lot of support from her husband though.
She was my inspiration growing up and even now.
One piece of advice you would give to young females who aspire to one day make their mark in the world of IT?
My advice would be to never stop learning. Learn new technologies so you can be the best in your chosen field. Never think only male can code.
If you have any questions for Navi, please:
1. leave a comment under our Woman of the Week FB post, or
2. email us at exec@WCPunimelb.com