WATCH: The changing landscape for women in Australian tech
It is no secret that diversity across the tech landscape is poor: Atlassian revealed earlier this year that just a quarter of its global workforce is made up of women, while figures revealed by Dropbox in 2015 showed women make up 32 percent of its employees overall, and just 19 percent of its tech workforce.
However, in revealing these figures, tech companies have started a conversation around diversity and many have made commitments to improve. Atlassian, for example, pledged that team diversity will be the benchmark against which it will measure its progress going forward.
Among those leading the charge both internally and within the wider Australian tech sphere is MYOB.
As a tech company working in the financial services space, MYOB must tackle the problem of lack of diversity on two fronts: if there is one particular sector within tech that has especially poor representation of women, it is surely fintech.
With the challenge significant, MYOB has begun by looking to its own company culture. Led by Alla Keogh, General Manager of People and Performance at MYOB, the company has examined itself to look at how to attract more women to MYOB and how to keep them there.
It also earlier this year launched its DevelopHER paid internship program, led by John Sullivan, Product Development Manager, Online SME and Practice Solutions at MYOB.
DevelopHER is a 360-hour paid internship program that will help three women become software developers, with the participating women offered flexible working arrangements to fit around family commitments and other obligations.
As well as improving its diversity statistics, MYOB is adamant that initiatives such as DevelopHER make simple business sense. The company has made a commitment to draw from both the male and female conception of design and UX: a product with just a male approach to UX and design ignores half the buying market.
Looking around the wider tech scene, MYOB has also signed on as a foundation partner of SheStarts, the female-focused accelerator program from BlueChilli looking to help 10 women launch new businesses, and highlighted the stories of women in tech through a content series on Startup Daily.
The landscape for women in Australian tech has developed significantly over the last few years; an initiative like DevelopHER or SheStarts would have been almost unthinkable just four or five years ago.
Of course, there is still more to be done. To explore the path forward, MYOB last week partnered with Startup Daily to host a panel on women in tech at the Michael Crouch Innovation Centre at the University of NSW.
We learned from Alla Keogh, John Sullivan, DevelopHER intern Julia Harper, Nicola Hazell, head of diversity and impact at BlueChilli, and entrepreneur Nicole Kersh what the current landscape is like and what else must be done to pave a way forward.
Image: John Sullivan, Julia Harper, Alla Keogh, Nicola Hazell, Gina Baldassarre, Nicole Kersh.