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Unconscious Bias

Vivian Chandra, Guest post. 18 April 2016, 10:11 am
Unconscious Bias

There are just so many articles written about women and tech. We admit that there is a gender gap in hiring, a gender gap in pay and a gender gap in management. We look at the stats and lament at the numbers of girls choosing to start a STEM based degree, and then lament again at the numbers that complete those degrees.

In May 2014, Google released its diversity figures, and admitted in an official blog, that women make up only 30% of their entire workforce, and if you restricted the search to technical roles, women make up a mere 17%. This is from an organisation that has spent millions on initiatives aimed at young women. Closer to home, Absolute IT released a report showing that women held just 21% of tech jobs in New Zealand.

Where has it all gone wrong?

Actually, scratch that, there are far too many articles already out there bringing doom and gloom, i'm going to take a moment to celebrate some of the great initiatives i've been involved with here in NZ, initiatives that will turn this ship around.

She# is a networking event with a difference. Recognising there is a misconception about what it means to 'be in tech', She# brings together academics, women already working in the tech industry and most importantly, high school girls who aren't quite sure about their career options yet. Each event has interesting speakers, and plenty of time to talk.

As a woman working in tech, I can't help but notice the lack of other women in the room when it comes to conferences and tech events. Refactor aims to change this. With most of the tickets designated for women only, Refactor brings together engaging speakers and a room full of women already working in the tech industry. (There are tickets for men too, just not as many!)

And finally, if you are planning a panel or a conference, and you find that all your speakers are male, then Anna Guenther, CEO of Pledgeme, has something for you. Inspired by an all-male cover on Idealog magazine, Anna crowdsourced "Inspiring Women in New Zealand", and at last count had managed to find over 500 women to add to the list.

These are just a few of the things out there. New Zealand was the first country in the world to give women the vote, I believe we can be the first country in the world to get rid of this pesky ICT gender gap.


Vivian has been involved with Amnesty International since 1996, starting out in its high school student activist network and steadily increasing her involvement until taking on the role of Information and Technology Manager.

Vivian has a Bachelors degree in Science (Physics) and a Masters on Sociology. 


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