Supporting Grad Girls in taking their first career steps

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Art Processors has been a proud supporter of the Vic ICT for Women’s Grad Girls program for several years now so we were delighted to host this year's graduation event at our Melbourne office.

Vic ICT for Women is a volunteer-based not-for-profit organisation that aims to support the entry and progression of women in ESTEAM (Environmental Science, Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) fields in Victoria, Australia.

Grad Girls is their year-long no-cost program open to all women currently studying these disciplines at a tertiary level, providing support with their transition from the classroom to the workplace. Around two dozen students from 10 educational institutions ranging from career changing boot camps to undergraduate, masters and PhD candidate programs attended monthly sessions throughout 2022.

This year's Grad Girls graduates.

At Art Processors, we recognise the advantages that a diverse workforce can bring to organisations, particularly in the ICT sector. There is an abundance of data correlating business efficiency, communication, and profitability with increased diversity in the workplace, but this issue is about more than just dollars and cents—it’s about enabling under-represented individuals to realise and apply the full extent of their talents in a rewarding career.   

“There’s still quite a high drop-off rate of women who start studying IT-based degrees and then don’t finish, or go on to work in a different field,” says Vanessa Doake, our Chief People Officer, explaining why this is such a crucial stage in recruiting women to tech. “One of the great things about the Vic ICT for Women programs is that they holistically try to develop a lot of different pathways.”

Vic ICT for Women Board Director Sara Ogston and Grad Girls Program Lead Kate Illsley led proceedings for the evening. In reflecting on the past year, the graduates spent time in a breakout session to discuss the following questions:

  • What was your biggest academic/professional achievement this year?
  • What was a personal goal that you pursued this year, and how are you going with it?
  • What was your biggest takeaway from participating in the program this year?

While gender-based biases in the hiring practices of many companies are still being addressed, Vanessa also realises that equipping women with industry knowledge and connections can provide a valuable set of first-step career tools.

Several young women clapping during the graduation ceremony for Vic ICT for Women's Grad Girls program.

“Part of the Grad Girls structure is to connect them as a cohort and a community to build that relationship with one another, and then also to introduce them to organisations,” she says.

“It’s really to connect the women with being able to form a picture of what organisations look like, what careers might look like, to break down any limited views that girls might form about what careers may or may not be available to them—again, as a retention mechanism,” says Vanessa. “It's also great that it goes for a whole year. The idea of the program is that they get lots of experiences and exposure to different companies.”

Aside from looking back on their accomplishments throughout the year, the evening also provided the Grad Girls with some small but practical perks. Professional portraits were taken of each attendee for them to use in public profiles such as LinkedIn, and prizes were awarded based on attendance throughout the year. One studious graduate received a $500 Myer stylist session voucher to assemble a sharp-looking workplace wardrobe.

Our support of the Grad Girls program isn’t based in any present recruitment or marketing objectives. Rather, and quite simply, this is a reflection of the future we’d like to see in the industry.

“We have diversity and inclusion as one of our key values,” emphasises Vanessa. “We want to be able to build products and solutions for our clients that represent the diversity of people and the communities they serve.” 

“At some point in the future, I'd love to see that societal change where we have more gender-diverse individuals involved in building creative technology and systems. This is just one way that we are trying to make meaningful change in the broader tech landscape.”

Thank you to Motorola Solutions, Leidos, REA Group, Transpire, and Publicis Sapient for also being a part of this important initiative. And congratulations to the 2022 graduates of the Grad Girls program—we look forward to seeing you become the leading faces of tech design and development in the coming years!