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Opinion: Is one third of IT roles held by women really that bad?

Byron Connolly | June 21, 2016
Three women out of 10 in a room is ok, right?

BT CIO
BT's CIO, Anastasia Cammaroto: "I've attended conferences where there's been two females in there; that's where you really need to pay attention."

In early 2015, I travelled to Fiji with my family. On one day during our week long holiday, I ventured out of the relative safety of the resort with my wife and 8-year-old son and visited a small town on Fiji’s Coral Coast.

After a few hours of being mobbed by local shop owners and their kids (my son has strawberry blonde hair so he was quite an attraction), and a few brief discussions about football, Jarryd Hayne and the mighty Parramatta Eels, we jumped on a bus back to our hotel.

Here we were, three white Australians among 30 or so Fijians on this bus, including a few huge men in the group who looked like their idea of fun was bashing into each other on the rugby field each weekend.

Now, at 197cm tall and 95kg, I am not a small person by any stretch of the imagination. I was even asked on a few occasions during my trip if I played rugby. For the record, I don’t.

But here I was, all 6 foot 4 of me, kind of cowering in my seat at the back of the bus, avoiding eye contact with the locals. It wasn’t until an old fellow rested his massive hand on my knee and warmly waxed lyrical about his proud Fijian race, that I felt more at ease.

Of course, I had no reason to feel uncomfortable. Fijians are amongst the most welcoming and warmest people on the planet. But I was in a minority – something that rarely happens to a white male who spends most of his time in Sydney.

Fast forward to last week and I was one of the 10 men out of 165 people who attended the ‘Women in Tech’ conference. What the heck? Less than 10 per cent of attendees were men? At an IT event? What was going on?

I arrived in the morning and moved to a corner, coffee in hand, wondering what it what it would feel like to be the only woman – not to mention black woman – in a crowd of mostly middle-aged and older white men.

Perhaps it’s kind of similar to the way I felt that day in Fiji amongst a sea of beautiful curly black-haired heads.

Everyone’s talking about the lack of diversity in the IT industry and the conversation – which has been going on for quite some time now – is mainly centered around gender; more so than race or culture.

 

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