At the recent Go Girl, Go For IT conference, girls from years 5-12 had the opportunity to see first-hand that a career in IT can be brilliantly creative. Art Processors exhibited immersive augmented reality, emotive soundscapes and graphic mapping experiences during the event, participating as part of our systemic approach to encouraging young women into the industry.
“It’s such a misnomer that IT is about technical number crunching and analysis,” says Rachael Jayne, Lead Engineer - Android at Art Processors. “You can make movies. You can make augmented reality or artificial intelligence. You can have a creative side and still be interested in a tech career.”
That’s why at the Go Girl, Go For IT conference we showcased some of the innovative, exciting work we’ve been doing recently–from augmented reality dinosaurs, to soundscapes that bring artworks to life, and a live, interactive map visualising Royal Flying Doctor Service flights. “Girls were visiting us all day,” says Rachael. “And they weren’t coming for stickers and sweets–we caught their attention and engaged them in what’s possible in their futures.”
It’s all part of our systemic approach to breaking down stereotypes about working in technology in underrepresented groups. To achieve real change, we shouldn’t just be attending well-known industry events, believes Vanessa Doake, our Chief People Officer. “As an organisation, we want the broadest groups possible building our technology,” she says. “If we only participate in forums that have an audience we would recruit from immediately, it’s not solving the problem sustainably. Ultimately, all companies end up fishing in the same pond and where is that going to get us?”
The appeal of Go Girl was that we could showcase a fun side of a technology career to girls in years 5-12, showing possibilities that they likely wouldn’t encounter through regular schooling activities. “It hits home for me on a personal level too,” Vanessa adds. “The messaging I received at school about the careers open to me certainly didn’t focus on technology.”
Rachael had the same experience. “There was no real discussion of having an IT career,” she reveals. “I knew I wanted to work with computers just because I love that subject but when I went to the careers counsellor, I didn't know the difference between systems analysis, multimedia, computer science, information systems… I applied to 18 courses because they mentioned something about computers. So, I've always had a passion to educate other girls, particularly rural girls, because I know first-hand that they don't get exposure to all the options that are out there.”
Just the start
Diversity and inclusion is hugely important to everyone at Art Processors. So far, we've built a 50/50 gender split workforce, a 62.5% female executive team and have female senior leadership even within the tech team.
But we want to keep that momentum up, as well as supporting the whole industry to do better. We sponsor the wider VIC ICT for Women programme (that Go Girl is part of), aiming to inspire women of all ages to enter, stay in and upskill in this amazing industry. We’re also active in Project F which helps address barriers to achieving gender-balanced technology teams. And there’s more in the pipeline.
“With automation and transformation, the technology industry undoubtedly has some of the biggest growth potential in the coming years,” says Vanessa excitedly. “But societally we do an injustice to young girls who might want to pursue these opportunities, failing to enable, encourage, support and inspire them. Overwhelmingly, it still seems like they’re not seeking out IT careers because of current societal activities and gender stereotypes which can be so limiting.”
“I could talk about this for hours,” she laughs. “It’s just something I’m so passionate about.”