Australia : The Victorian government has announced a $450,000 cash injection to help break down gender barriers in tech, placing female fellowship teams within three government departments and agencies to improve delivery of government services.
The Code for Victoria II program, to be led by Code for Australia, will embed female designers, programmers, and user-experience experts into government for six months to address public sector challenges.
It builds on the previous round of the program, which delivered new technology to Victoria Legal Aid and others. Developed as part of the fellowship program, Code for Australia’s SMS notification tool for example reduced appointment no-shows at Victoria Legal Aid from around 50 percent to zero in some offices, given customers were now reminded of their appointment.
“In the last eight months we’ve seen what our remarkable community of public servants and talented technologists is capable of,” Code for Australia Managing Director Alvaro Maz said.
“Which is why we’re raising the bar to ensure a greater diversity of people become involved in civic life to solve critical public issues.”
Special minister of state Gavin Jennings said placing external coders and project managers inside the public sector meant the government could get some fresh eyes on some of the complexities, leading to some innovative outcomes.
“It’s important for us to find ways across the public sector to make sure we have appropriate skill development,” Mr Jennings said. Women hold up half the sky, they should not be adversely kept out of any engagement with our economy and society. Women in technology, is where we are taking this project next.”
Currently just 20 percent of tech workers are women, compared to 46 percent of the broader Victorian workforce.
Karen Taylor, CEO of Refraction Media, said one of the major barriers to young women pursuing careers in technology was a lack of role models.
“Programs like this are win/win,” Ms Taylor said. “The government will benefit from a more diverse team tackling its problems and by boosting female participation in the tech sector; and young women will be better able to imagine themselves in a tech careers. Increasing diversity in the tech sector is not only the right thing to do, but it’s also the most economically sound strategy to meet the workforce demands of tomorrow.
Diverse City Careers’ Gemma Lloyd, a speaker at the upcoming Women in Tech and Telco summit, said the partnership was a promising one.
“Innovation happens when you have people from a mix of backgrounds, races and genders work together,” she said. “With women’s workforce participation so low in STEM, these initiatives are important and will drive the best outcomes for industry, the government and the community.
“To further boost women’s participation in STEM, it would be great to see an education program which encourages women who aren’t in STEM to participate, and then consider it as a career.” Mr Jennings said prospective fellows and government departments and agencies can apply to the Code for Victoria II Program at www.codeforvictoria.org
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