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Gender diversity talk MultiCore World 2017

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Why are we still failing to attract and retain Women in STEM? why aren't girls learning STEM subjects at school? or entering STEM careers?
This presentation focuses on 3 things we can all do to effect change in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics fields. Men and women alike - we all have a role to play in creating opportunities and balance.

Why are we still failing to attract and retain Women in STEM? why aren't girls learning STEM subjects at school? or entering STEM careers?
This presentation focuses on 3 things we can all do to effect change in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics fields. Men and women alike - we all have a role to play in creating opportunities and balance.

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Gender diversity talk MultiCore World 2017

  1. 1. Why are we still failing to attract and retain Women in STEM? Victoria MacLennan
  2. 2. This talk is for you!
  3. 3. STEM = Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics “Women remain underrepresented in the science and engineering workforce, although to a lesser degree than in the past, with the greatest disparities occurring in engineering, computer science, and the physical sciences.” NSF, Science and Engineering Indicators 2016
  4. 4. Top Three Things we can all do 1. Encourage Girls and Women ○ to apply ○ to be seen as role models 2. Change our Language ○ get to know your own biases 3. Be Supportive ○ in the workplace ○ in study
  5. 5. Impostor Syndrome is a real thing
  6. 6. Women told me how I made them feel. Men commented on how interesting it was a woman won the ward.
  7. 7. 1. Encourage Girls and Women ○ to apply ○ to be seen as role models All Dilbert Cartoons courtesy of Dilbert.com who own the copyright.
  8. 8. “If girls can see it, they can be it.” “Girls need role models so they can see the possibilities STEM careers offer!” “why girls may not go into engineering; reasons such as peer pressure, poor career advice, stereotypical preconceptions and college environment” Quotes from a range of studies into STEM funnel challenges.
  9. 9. 2. Change our Language ○ get to know your own biases
  10. 10. Please don’t Use Male normative words eg: Mate or lads Greet a room with “Gentlemen” Use endearing greetings eg: Honey, Love Describe a team as “work hard, play hard”, ninja’s, risk takers Assume the woman in the room holds an administrative role Assume women aren’t as capable as their colleagues Use instead Collaborative language eg: inclusive, consultative Inspiring language eg: purpose, innovative Provide girls and women with equal opportunities to speak / ask and answer questions Provide girls and women with challenging problems to solve
  11. 11. 3. Be Supportive ○ in the workplace ○ in study
  12. 12. Challenges identified speaking to women in New Zealand. Young women in University education challenges: ➢ The boys make sarcastic comments when I get the highest grade in the class. ➢ There were 30 girls in year 1 of my (Software Engineering) class now there are only 10 in year 3 ➢ The lecturer never calls on me to ask or answer questions ➢ My male tutor doesn’t make eye contact with me ➢ I had to drop out because the university didn’t offer childcare and I couldn’t secure a place that worked with my course timetable Challenges from women returning to work: ➢ I was offered 25% less salary than when I left the workforce 2 years ago. ➢ Technology has moved on so quickly in 5 years and employers keep saying my skills are out of date ➢ My manager schedules meetings that start 30 minutes before I need to leave to pick up children which often causes me to leave the meeting early or be late for my children ➢ I really want to job share with someone but employers don’t want 2 x part time people ➢ My employer wouldn’t let me return to my old role part-time so I had to resign.
  13. 13. Top Three Things we can all do 1. Encourage Girls and Women ○ to apply ○ to be seen as role models 2. Change our Language ○ get to know your own biases 3. Be Supportive ○ in the workplace ○ in study
  14. 14. “If girls can see it, they can be it.” Investments Pro-bono Initiatives I am involved with tackling these issues Digital Technology Curriculum Reference Group

Editor's Notes

  • Hello. By now you will have all noticed my topic isn’t quite in keeping with the other speakers here at MultiCore World.
    You may have also noticed that one of the two women on the agenda is using her 25 minutes to talk about women! Before you roll your eyes and sigh - which I know many of you will be doing internally right now - I want to tell you a story or two, provide you with some context and insight and most importantly leave you all with 3 things every single one of us here can do to help reverse the current situation attracting and retaining women in STEM.
  • This talk is for everyone here because attracting and retaining women into STEM careers is something we all hold a role in solving.
    I am going to assume you all know why, understand there is a problem so won’t cover that ground.
    I am also not going to talk about Diversity generally, I am a white middle aged straight woman so am exclusively qualified to talk about Women in STEM vs LGBT or ethnic diversity.
    So to be clear this talk is for all of us here, we all share in the solution - you might be a father, uncle, son, brother, employer, lecturer, mentor - you all have a role this isn’t an issue for women this is an issue for everyone.
  • Just making sure we are all on the same page with what STEM is.
    I grew up with posters on the walls of my classroom that said Girls can do Anything. So I genuinely believed that I could do anything and desperately wanted to be an Architect. So when I was 16 and wanted to study Physics and Engineering - so I could get into Architecture school - I was kinda surprised my school (Nelson College for Girls) didn’t want me to do these subjects. Long story short I was the first girl to go to Nelson College for Boys to study Physics and Engineering. My school didn’t make this easy for me, they didn’t encourage me and they didn’t encourage other girls to follow in my footsteps either - this was 31 years ago when women were already dominant in STEM careers!
  • With only 25 minutes I am going to focus on 3 things we can all do to to influence the landscape for women in STEM. 3 things you will all need to work on when you leave here.
  • To arm you all in preparation to change I first need to tell you about Impostor Syndrome, something men and women suffer from but in my experience this is systemic to the issues we face in both the education funnel - not enough girls entering STEM subjects, or sticking with STEM subjects - and in preparation for the future of work, not enough women working in STEM careers, or women staying in STEM careers.
    So let me tell you my story.
  • In June 2016 my partner Steve and I went to London to visit Donovan. It was a fantastic 3 week holiday. As a business owner it’s hard to take 3 weeks off work so this for me was quite magic. Earlier this day - about June 10th - Steve and I were walking along Southbank before meeting Don and his best friend Sophie after work, I think we were checking out a Gin bar at the time, when I got an email saying I had been nominated for IT Professional of the year 2016. I read the email to Steve and promptly replied with something like “ thanks but there are so many other people who deserve this award, I won’t accept the nomination!”.
    Lets be clear, that is what I genuinely thought at the time. So little did I know the person who nominated me had crowd sourced my nomination, it turned out 10 people had written wee blurbs about why they thought I should be given this award - both as a reformed technologist, an employer of many many technologists and the advocacy work I do for the industry.
  • I thought you might like a different London iconic photo.
    The next day I got about 10 emails from people saying - why did you turn down the nomination? you have to accept. One was from Don Christie my Co-Chair in NZRise and the person who convinced me to give this talk today. Don just replied with “what is it you say about Impostor Syndrome”?
    so I accepted the nomination, returned to NZ and found out I was a finalist so went along to a judging event and…..
  • on the 12th of July attended the NZ IT excellence awards as a finalist for the IT Professional of the year. 100% positive I wasn’t going to win I told Steve not to bother coming with me, I would be sitting with a Minister (Clare Curren) and it would be boring for him and besides Michael Trengrove was going to win. It was a big event, gala dinner, acrobatic performers, a band, black tie, champagne - the works.
  • Another story short on the 12th of July this 47 year old woman won an award, and at 10:12pm stepped up to the microphone, pulled her speech out of her bra, burst into tears and proceeded to tell a child birth story - turns out at 10:12pm on the 12th of July 1991 I was giving birth to Donovan so the emotion of that moment overwhelmed me. No idea what Minister Adams was thinking as all of this happened! She smiled nicely.
    The two biggest things I have taken away from this award are:
    Women who were in the audience told me, and are still telling me, how my bursting into tears and talking about my children and their role in my journey made them feel!
    Men told me how interesting it is I was the first woman to win the IT Professional of the year! you would be amazed how many men decided to tell me this.
  • It’s not just awards. Women don’t put themselves forward for many things - jobs is one of our biggest challenges.
    To illustrate. When a job is advertised with 10 characteristics listed, a woman will read the advert, think they have nailed 5 of the skills or specialist expertise required and not apply. A man reading the same advert might think he has 3 of the skills and apply! We need to be confident we are the best person for the job before we even apply for the role!
    Your role is to encourage women to apply for promotions and jobs. 2nd example, as an employer I have a good mix of men and women in the OptimalBI team - the many of the men ask me for pay increases on a regular basis. The women seldom ask (only one asks actually). We value worth differently, but this might be one of the factors that leads to pay inequality perhaps?
  • It is really important to note those role models need to be accessible to their context – current and demonstrate contribution to purposeful work. I talk to girls in schools both primary and secondary and consistently hear they think Tech is limited to smelly boys who make games in dark rooms. They need to understand the creative opportunities of tech. the Purpose driven opportunities of science. Where Engineering and Mathematics are making an impact on the world.
  • Ok I have mixed two seemingly unconnected things here but the reality is these are connected. Understanding our own personal biases is a powerful step towards creating a supportive environment for girls and women in STEM - and language is the first point of entry here. If you haven’t done it go and google Harvard Bias test, take their tests. They are fascinating. I found out I have a very slight bias towards men in a business context, surprised me but years of conditioning….
  • In considering language in schools, universities and workplaces - we need to be inclusive and not use phrases women will find exclusive, but hundreds of years of male led organisations has resulted in male normative language.
    Here are just a few of the things I have experienced in the last 12 months alone - being called Mate, a room full of men and women addressed as Gentlemen, job descriptions containing phrases like work hard, play hard; men assuming I am the help; men speaking to my male colleague ignoring me completely.

  • My third point is about changing the places we teach and work to be more supportive of women.
    Stepping out of workforce to raise children is a reality for most women so returning to the workplace should be as supportive as possible, as colleagues, employers and partners you can all assist in creating a flexible supportive working environment for those women returning to work.
    Things to consider - Different kinds of KPI’s, Different incentives, flexible hours, flexible working location (a mixture of home and office) and most importantly providing opportunities to collaborate.
    Perhaps it’s time to reform education to embrace women returning to work - conversion Masters, Flexible Courses incorporating online elements?
    I didn’t work with another woman until I was a manager and able to employ one – don’t get me wrong there were women in the companies I worked for but none in my team, reporting lines or even IT group on one occasion. This is still a reality for some women in Tech and it seriously shouldn’t be!
  • Women face so many challenges when returning to work and even more when returning to STEM roles. These are real issues women have described to me both those in education and the workforce.
    Pay parity
    Flexible working hours
    Part-time work
    Skills moving on quickly and getting out of date are just a few
    Then lets talk about how women are treated within the education system. Here I have quotes identified by women I met last year talking about these challenges. At Victoria University here in Wellington I understand the conversion to other degrees after year 1 is high but considered “normal” – we should be bending over backwards to keep every girl who enters a STEM degree! In researching this talk I struggled to find definitive figures on how many women are studying STEM subjects at tertiary level – numbers from 4% to 15% depending on the discipline seems to be reported! This is shocking when women are 50% of our population and completely capable of undertaking these careers.


  • To recap the three things we can all do to support women into STEM - encourage girls, encourage women and remember Impostor syndrome is a real thing.
    Change our language and know our inherent biases.
    Be supportive and create supportive environments. We are all part of this society and need to all be part of the change.
  • Thanks to all my companies for giving me this insight and time to be here. Here are some of the initiatives I am involved with. There are more but I ran out of space on the screen. All involve wonderful women and all are focusing on making a difference. Thank you.
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