Yesterday, we attended the highly anticipated Changing the Ratio conference, which took place in Sydney, with a goal to educate attendees on the importance of diversity within Australian companies. Alongside inspiring speakers like George McEncroe and Kirsty Muddle, Sally-Ann Williams, the engineering community and outreach manager for Google Australia also shed a light on the lack of diversity and inclusion for women within the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and maths). And it's a topic that is more than backed up based on statistics.
According to Catalyst, in 2016 women made up less than one in five students earning degrees in information and engineering technologies, and were also less than a quarter of those employed in computer system design and related services.
You could say that though Williams has been incredibly successful in this arena, it was definitely not a product of open doors, and she stated as much during her speech: “At school I studied all of the STEM subjects because I was good at them, yet I had no visible pathway to the Google engineering role I’m in now. People like me should be able to go into careers like mine not by chance, but by design.”
Williams further asserts that the key to achieving equality comes down to intentional inclusion and won't happen by chance. “If you don’t intentionally, deliberately and proactively include, you will unintentionally exclude. We need to recognise each and every one of us has unconscious bias. But it can’t be an excuse for our behaviour" Williams stated.
An example of a step towards the right direction can be seen in Google’s actions to increase diversity. In this effort, they actively measured and published their diversity stats, something that perhaps should be pushed for in other companies across Australia: “Google was the first in the tech industry to publish its diversity statistics. And it was at times an uncomfortable experience. But if you don’t measure these things, you can’t move forward. We need to get comfortable with the uncomfortable...We need to change the ratio in the STEM space to encourage more young women to move into this realm.”
For more on William's talk, read the full article at B&T.