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Five reasons why women work in technology

Sylvia Pennington (via SMH) | May 20, 2013
Money, excitement, glamour? Maybe not. Women tell us why they chose a career in tech.

Work from home: Flexibility is one of the drawcards for women who work in technology.

Money, excitement, glamour (well, maybe not the last one). The technology sector has been attempting to sell women on the benefits of a high-tech career since the 1990s.

Despite comprising 52 per cent of the population, women make up just 18 per cent of the information communication technology (ICT) industry, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Evening up the numbers remains on the to-do list for universities, industry associations and employers, with some employers like Westpac, VMWare and Microsoft running programs to attract more women to their tech ranks and the industry in general.

Despite complaints of sexismdiscrimination and inequality, and under reporting of their contribution, some women continue to carve a place and thrive in tech. So what things do they say turn them on to a career in technology?

1. A ticket to ride
ICT is the ultimate portable career and the right set of skills can take their owner from Sydney to Stockholm, via Saskatoon. The program manager for Cisco Networking Academies in Australia, Emma Broadbent, says the chance to travel is a big motivator for many of the women who complete the vendor's certification courses. "It's more about opportunities than salaries," Broadbent says.

2. Chasing a dream
Want to be your own boss while you're still in your 20s? High-profile young entrepreneurs like 99Dresses founder Nikki Durkin have inspired a generation of geek girls, says Microsoft director of developer platform evangelism Sarah Vaughan, whose remit includes frequent campus visits. Dreams of running their own show inspire many of the young women she meets, Vaughan says. "They see it as a chance to start their own business early on - to pursue an idea and a dream."

3. Something different
Not a nine-to-fiver who counts variety as a different filling in their lunchtime sandwich? Creator of the buildAR augmented reality platform, Alex Young, says working as a developer means you're never bored. Constant change, and the excitement of meeting new technologies head-on alongside other bright sparks, drew her into the industry in the early days of the internet. Shared intellectual challenges and the satisfaction of solving things in a collaborative way have kept her interest high since then. "People are really passionate ... I love that," Young says. "I get bored by routine."

4. A balancing act
Like something to get your teeth into - but still enjoy lots of people contact? Computer Troubleshooters Aspley proprietor Sonia Cuff got sucked into the sector after realising it could give her a role with plenty of both. Her ICT career began 20 years ago when IT staff at the bank where she worked noticed her affinity with technology and seconded her to a helpdesk project where being people savvy and tech minded was a winning combination.


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