[Linux-aus] Advocating for more women to enter the IT industry

Ian ilox11 at gmail.com
Wed Oct 30 12:13:04 EST 2013

Looking past some the outdated views expressed in another thread and
seeking positives from this topic I'm also trying to discover some of the
positive actions out there that are trying to encourage more women to join
the IT field and look at ways LA could assist.

A little historical perspective. When I was a mature age student (in 1998
when I was 45) attending Magill campus of the University of South Australia
working on an IT degree I was very surprised at the small numbers of women
participating in IT degrees. I went to the Womens Office on campus to seek
information on participation rates. They told me that there were round
about 7% women attending IT related courses and as a counterpoint around 5%
men attending teaching courses. When I suggested something such as a Grace
Hopper Day I was laughed at. In 1999 when I was at Mawson Lakes campus I
became active in the Student Association and from that viewpoint advocated
for action to reach out to local school's and reach the young ladies of
Year 9 and Year 10 – an age where they could still make a choice as to
their careers and studies – and encourage them to take up IT as a career.
At the time Grace Hopper Days seemed to be the best medium/avenue for
bringing this about.

Though the suggestion was taken seriously and had support from the
administration and academics it still didn't take place.

I applaud the activities of the RoboGals trying to build participation in
the engineering disciplines.
I believe a similar reach out program which gets IT women into the schools
as advocates is one of the ways to improve the participation rates within
the industry.

I believe Linux Australia, member organisations and members, are in a great
position to actively support such a program. More than likely programs like
that are already within the IT industry in Australia, my suggestion is that
these programs are identified and where possible (and appropriate) strongly
supported in the interests of the IT Industry and Open Source specifically.

-- Ian
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