She who dares, wins: Why women without technical skill sets should embrace the tech industry

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Before I heard about The Dream Collective, I never thought that I could work in technology.

Sure, I’ve read a lot of articles saying that women don’t need to tick all of the boxes before they apply for a job, but as it’s been well documented, women tend to apply for a role if they think they meet 100% of the qualifications, while men happily put their hands up when they meet 60%.

For many people — especially women — the notion of working in the technology industry is daunting. Usually, the articles which get most traction and publicity are those that feature tech geniuses, such as Elon Musk and Steve Jobs (not very relatable), and pop culture tends to depict the stereotypical single male, or male-led startup, furiously working at the computer, coding well into the night.

I’m not alone when I say that many women have doubts about pivoting into the tech industry because it is mainly male-dominated and continues to be perceived as such across various media.

I know that the future is tech. Findings from a new research report prepared by strategy and economics consulting firm AlphaBeta and commissioned by Amazon Web Services (AWS), predicts that Australia will need 6.5 million new skilled and reskilled digital workers by 2025, which is an increase of 79% of the existing workforce.

The average Australian worker will need to develop seven new digital skills within the next five years to keep pace with technology advancements and demand. Even before COVID-19, Australian women faced a non-level playing field. For example, workforce participation rates are lower than for males, and unemployment and underemployment rates are higher, according to Department of Education, Skills and Employment 2021 and 2019 figures.

As the ever-present pandemic continues to rage on around the country, a wider range of businesses and sectors have more incentive to adopt new technologies, update systems, diversify markets, products or services and change working arrangements or delivery models. The world has shifted on its axis and, while we can feel it, without guidance it can be difficult to know what to do with that sense of possibility.

I was one of these people — until I enrolled in SheDares, a learning program that explains the links between transferable skills and enables you to think beyond job titles and about actual roles (perhaps with companies that would never otherwise be on your radar).

It was here that I realised that tech companies require roles that operate outside technical skill sets: product managers, customer success and growth manager roles are common (and necessary), and don’t exactly need you to learn how to code or invent a new app to apply.

Yet due to the publicity and hype around technology roles, many — if not most — of us don’t realise that we already have all the skills required for these positions from our previous non-tech experiences. The focus on hard — technical — skills within the tech industries often obscures the reality that a technology cannot launch and grow without the efforts and skills of a diverse pool of talent.

Which is precisely why we need more women in this space. We need to change perceptions so that future generations can feel more confident about entering the tech sphere, so that amazing women like Whitney Wolf (founder of Bumble), Melanie Perkins (creator behind Canva), and Gina Trapani (founder of Lifehacker) can become more commonplace.

A big part of this is changing the perception that the tech industry is a “guy thing”, and for companies to show genuine initiative and push for diversity — not just talk the talk — when it comes to making room for women.

Technology is much more than gaming apps and driverless cars. When I hear the term ‘tech industry’, I see flexibility in the way we work, advancements in medical equipment, and improved communication methods to stay connected with loved ones.

Being open to new growth opportunities is always a good career move. As someone who loves to learn new skills and has a creative background, I can now see myself pivoting into this industry from recruitment quite smoothly. As someone who is always looking at new and better ways to work, the tech industry has shown to be very flexible and resilient. During lockdowns, technology allowed us to stay connected to one another, allowed us to work remotely and still deliver results.

So if you’re a woman and you’ve ever thought about how you could enter the tech field — or even if you’ve been vaguely interested — now is the time to take advantage and enrol in SheDares today. The demand is high and despite how it may look, there is a place for you in the industry.

This article was first published in Women’s Agenda.

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