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7 women in tech share what advice they'd give other women wishing to entering the industry

Sharon Masige
  • Business Insider Australia asked seven women in the tech industry what advice they would give other women wishing to enter the industry.
  • Women from Hootsuite, NBN Co and Mindbody shared their thoughts.
  • "Stop questioning whether you belong and instead know that you deserve to be there," Kaitlin Stoddard, Workplace by Facebook ANZ Lead, Facebook Partnerships said.

Women supporting women.

In honour of Women in Tech Week – 9-11 October – Business Insider Australia caught up with women from some of the biggest names in tech to find out what advice they would give other women wishing to join the industry.

Here's what they said:

Heather Cook, General Manager APAC, Hootsuite

Cook told Business Insider Australia in an email that firstly she would encourage women to be confident in their skills and aptitudes, knowing what they can bring to the table.

"It’s well known that businesses with greater gender diversity are more creative, innovative and profitable," she said. "Being empowered in this knowledge is key. 

"Secondly, I recommend finding an aspirational mentor who is experienced not only in tech but in general management. This provides access to the invaluable knowledge and experience held by your mentor, while giving you an advocate and ally who can champion your visibility and career growth within the industry. 

"Finally, I would say as women, we should elevate other women. Let’s create a butterfly effect where we help each other soar. Together, we can create a movement for change, paving the way for the next generation."

Debbie Taylor, Chief Information Officer at NBN Co

For women who are thinking of entering the IT sector, Taylor's advice is simple, "Do it!"

"If your passion is technology, then you should follow it," she said. "I grew up in a time when technology and computers were just taking off and, even then, I always knew that it was the right thing for me to pursue. I love technology and it’s only become more and more exciting over the years I have been working in this space.

"The beauty of working in technology today is that technology drives so many innovations and improvements that can have a positive impact on people and the world. There are so many different avenues in the technology sector and the career options are vast. There are so many exciting opportunities to make a difference."

Taylor added that while the sector may be dominated by men, women shouldn't be deterred by that imbalance.

"Let it encourage you – forward thinking organisations want diversity of thought in their teams and that includes having more gender balanced teams," she said. "There are more and more women entering the tech space now – it’s shifting from the heavily male-dominated field it used to be."

Kaitlin Stoddard, Workplace by Facebook ANZ Lead, Facebook Partnerships

For Stoddard, it's about showing up with confidence, every single time.

"Impostor syndrome is very real, especially for women in tech, so stop questioning whether you belong and instead know that you deserve to be there," Stoddard said. "Your personal brand is everything so it’s important to remember that every interaction you have, whether it be in person, online, your CV or on social media, is a representation of your brand.

"Take the time to think about what you’d like your brand to be and own whatever it is you decide. When we are confident and take our seats at the table, we will inevitably empower other women with the same hopes and dreams. So be confident and take your seat – they’ll move over for you."

Angela Chan, Head of Innovation & Growth at Schneider Electric

Chan emphasised that the tech sector is much more than just coding.

"I don't come from a tech, IT or programming background, but I lead Schneider Electric's Innovation in Australia," she said. "[Tech is] thinking about how you use technology to provide solutions to problems and taking people on the journey. Technology is an enabler of innovation."

Chan's advice is to be yourself, don't be afraid to ask questions, and bring people to the front of creative problem solving.

"Our ability to deeply empathise brings a fresh perspective to the table," she said.

Chan also founded Women in Schneider Electric (WISE) groups around Australia which gives women a platform to discuss any challenges they're facing at work.

Mary Cudmore, Senior Director, Global Survey Operations, Nearmap

Cudmore advises taking the time to learn about opportunities across the STEM (science, technology engineering and maths) sector, understanding what these jobs would be like and comparing them with your aspirations and what you love to do.

"There is a world of possibilities under the labels “STEM” or “tech” – experiences like open days, internship and even contract stints can help you explore different roles, while networking groups and meetups can help make valuable connections," Cudmore said.

"At Nearmap our technology department alone comprises a wide gamut of areas, from sensor and vision systems, to data analytics and software engineering. It’s also worth noting that a technical background can be a good foundation for other types of jobs in the tech sector including leadership positions. We have a number of instances of this in Nearmap, for example, women with engineering backgrounds moving into business analysis and improvement."

Hema Prakash, Australia & APAC General Manager, Mindbody

Prakash's advice is to first understand your ‘why’ before anything else.

"Why do you, as an individual want to be in tech? What are the overriding qualities of this industry that you connect with and aspire to be a part of?," she said. "This ‘why’ will be your North Star for years to come. Follow the organisations that are doing things that align with your ‘why.’

"Once you’ve established this for yourself, work on your ‘what’. What is it that you want to achieve? For me, this was a tough one. I did not wake up one day and land here the next. It was a progressive task, slowly building a career path one step, one intent at a time to achieve my goals."

Laura Hill, Director, Gumtree Australia

Hill said, "Don't think that a career in the tech industry is just for men."

"You’ll meet, work and interact with a diverse range of amazing women and have fun doing it. Just make sure you choose the right company and take all opportunities you can, even if you think you’re not ready."