Women who are changing the face of technology in Australia.
Australia’s tech world is still shockingly behind the times in terms of equality, with women making up less than 20% of the information and communications technology workforce in 2013. Despite plenty of initiatives and movements to get women more involved in the sector, the statistics remain the same, and it is due to a myriad of reasons, included unequal pay and a hostile working environment.
One of the key features of women in ICT is their determination for equality, with many being loud advocates for equality for all in the sector. Not only do these women possess brilliant minds, but they also have the drive to open up the ICT world for newcomers. In spite of the Boys’ Club mentality that they have faced within the tech world, some women in Australia are rising up and becoming real faces of the movement here.
- Anna Liu
As a former CSIRO researcher, lecturer at universities across NSW, and software developer for Microsoft, Liu used her skills to develop Yuruware. Starting out as a software spinoff of the research organisation NICTA, Yuruware provides technology to track migration and monitor business communities for any cloud-based systems. It was an idea that addressed attention around Australia, but also received a great deal of interest from the US firm, Unitrends, who put an offer in on the company for over $10m.
Whilst Yuruware and Unitrends are currently in the process of merging, Liu is determined to maintain her position of control over her enterprise, with the skills to match the business’ eight-figure price tag.
- Lindy Stephens
As the Global Director of People Operations at tech company ThoughtWorks, Stephens is not only making waves in the tech world for her strategies, but is also an advocate for equality and diversity in the industry. Through her position, Stephens has hugely increased the number of women working for the company, realising there was a total lack of diversity in her sector. “Women will bring different strengths,” Stephens has said of ThoughtWorks’ hiring policy, though the company still has some work to do to make up for lost time.
After over twenty years in IT, Stephens’ decision to make a change in the gendering of the tech world is looking to improve the future of young women looking to enter the technology world. After working as Managing Director for ThoughtWorks in Australia, she has now moved her focus to equal opportunities for women.
- Nicole Kersh
She started up 4Cabling when she was just 21, and after her hands-on experience with the company that filled a gap in the market for technology cabling for consumers, she has sold the business for a very healthy sum. “There’s very little that can prepare you for selling and letting go and all the surprises along the way,” Kersh said of selling her business in 2014. Her knowledge of the market and practical skills with technology have led her into her new venture as an ecommerce consultant and digital marketer for Australian businesses.
With her personal knowledge of the industry and her hands-on experience through her own company that went hand in hand with the online space, she is looking to revolutionise how Australians conduct their business in the digital sphere.
- Jenine Beekhuyzen
As the founder of Tech Girls Movement, Beekhuyzen is another woman out to open up IT opportunities to Australian women. Being one of only a few girls in her ICT lectures when she was at university, Beekhuyzen saw a real need to change the gender distribution of IT. Backed by names like Microsoft and Commonwealth Bank, the Tech Girls Movement is gaining a lot of attention and is on its way to righting the inequality women face in the ICT workforce.
Alongside her non-profit initiative, Bekhuyzen also owns three businesses, including Adroit Research, a qualitative research firm. Currently, she is focused on education, and is lecturing on IT at Griffith University. With technology as her focus, she is looking towards the future, and towards developing an easier passage for young women to enter the ICT field.
- Melanie Perkins
She’s one of Australia’s lead entrepreneurs, taking over the design and tech field with her innovative website, Canva. Perkins’ development makes graphic design far easier for businesses, with templates ready to use. She responded to the need for easy design after teaching at university, where it would take a full semester for students to learn even the basics of Photoshop. In recent months, she has raised another $6m in investments from the likes of Matrix Partners and Blackbird Ventures.
“The most important thing you can do is to solve a real problem. If you solve a problem that lots of people care about deeply, you’ll be able to figure out the rest,” Perkins says, of starting up a business venture. She has certainly responded something that plenty of people care about, and has been incredibly successful in her area.
- Jodie Fox
After starting as a banking and finance lawyer and doing some work in the advertising industry, Fox made a big splash with the launch of her business Shoes of Prey in 2009. Initially based entirely online, SOP’s business model allowed customers to design their own shoes, covering everything from heel height to fabric type, giving them a fully personalised product. With a keen focus on an interactive design experience, Fox and her team were able to use tech to their advantage in attracting a wide customer base.
After garnering interest overseas, Shoes of Prey were able to open up two physical storefronts in Sydney, and have since expanded to the US. Despite the stores, their online presence continues to grow, and Fox expanded her portfolio with Sneaking Duck, an online glasses retailer.