The Northern Sydney Institute, part of TAFE NSW, and Cisco, have joined forces to inspire more than 100 young women to challenge stereotypes and pursue a career in IT. The Northern Sydney Institute teamed up with Cisco to host its Women Rock IT event, as part of the International Girls in ICT Day on April 23.
The event hosted more than 100 young women from the Northern Sydney Institute, Bradfield College, and local high schools as well as girls and young women from the wider community to a speech by one of Cisco’s engineers, Vanessa Sulikowski.
She spoke about how women, such as herself, have turned a passion for technology into a rewarding and successful career. The event also comprised of discussions, speed mentoring and the opportunity for young women to network and meet with successful female IT professionals.
According to Cisco, the event aims to raise awareness about the career possibilities for young women in IT and encourage more female participation in the industry. But not only did females attend the event, a large portion of men too joined in to give their support to the cause.
“It wasn’t just women in the audience, the male students were also keen to give their support even though they knew it was an initiative targeted at women. The ratio of female to male attendees was probably about 6:4,” Cisco A/NZ and Pacific Islands networking academy and social innovation group regional manager, Emma Broadbent, said.
“It’s nice to see that young men recognise the importance and promote the diversity needed.”
Cisco’s Women Rock IT event is part of Cisco’s new AUSTEM 2020 program, which endeavours to train more than 100,000 tertiary and school students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) skills over the course of five years.
“There are three initiatives within AUSTEM – volunteerism, the executive committee talking about it in roundtables, and networking academy programs such as this,” Broadbent added.
Northern Sydney Institute IT and network engineering faculty manager, Jillian Belme, said such initiatives are of importance as they raise an awareness in the industry for females to enter IT.
“I don’t think a lot of girls know the IT industry is looking to embrace women in its workforce. But some women do have a passion for the technical side of IT and they shouldn’t be threatened that it’s a male dominated industry,” she said.
Broadbent agreed and claimed the lack of women engineers in IT is a global issue and hopes these sort of events targeting the next generation encourage them to enter this field.
“Women might not know what they want to do in IT, but the message to them is to not be afraid of that at this point because there’s a lot of choice and opportunities to move across various parts of IT should they want to,” she added.