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‘Code is cool’: Victorian government launches new initiative to draw more Australian women to digital technology

As Australia’s digital technology industry continues to grow at a rapid rate, women remain underrepresented in the workforce, new data has shown.
Coding sits at the heart of the sector and efforts are being made to provide women with the knowledge and support to build rewarding careers in the field.
Ally Watson, founder of social enterprise Code Like a Girl, said there are boundless employment opportunities for women with the right technology skills.
“We know first hand it is a developers market. They can name their price, name the flexibility that they need because companies are desperate for talent,” Ms Watson said.
According to the Australian Computer Society, women make up just 29 per cent of the technology workforce in Australia.

The proportion of female workers in tech is growing by just 0.75 per cent each year, while only one in five information technology graduates being women.

More Australian women are being encouraged to enter the world of coding.

More Australian women are being encouraged to enter the world of coding. Source: SBS

But diverse pathways to employment in the traditionally male-dominated sector are being opened up.

“We need to accept that traditional degrees and diplomas are not delivering the diversity of people that we need, nor are they developing the numbers of people that need to come to this field.”
On Saturday, the Victorian government launched a partnership with Code like a Girl to deliver five paid internships for women within government departments.

The program will also provide the interns with an intensive four-month coding course – which turns participants with no coding knowledge into junior web developers.

The Code Like a Girl partnership aims to get more women into the tech sector.

The Code Like a Girl partnership aims to get more women into the tech sector. Source: SBS / Cassandra Bain

Victorian Minister for Government Services, Danny Pearson, said he hoped the program would lead to increased diversity and representation across the sector.

“We will never be able to conquer the gender pay gap if we have women being excluded, for whatever reason, from these new economy 21st-century jobs.”
After nine years as a stay-at-home-mum, Jane Villo-Mario struggled to get a foot in the door with a technology company.

“I started looking for work, but nothing came up. Sometimes, just the first opportunity is the hardest part. So, that’s the biggest hurdle.”

Jane Villo-Mario works as a DevOps Engineer in Melbourne.

Jane Villo-Mario works as a DevOps Engineer in Melbourne. Source: SBS / Cassandra Bain

An internship arranged by Code Like a Girl led Ms Villo-Mario, a Filipino migrant, to a permanent job as a DevOps Engineer.

“The flexibility of it, I think, is the most important part. So, because I get to see my girls anytime I want. I work purely at home.”

Working in the fashion industry, Clare Roche didn’t think coding was for her.

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“I thought it would be something that was quite maths-related, which is not something I feel I have a lot of strength in. So that was quite intimidating.”

A ten-week online coding course with Code Like a Girl gave her a fresh perspective.

Clare Roche studied coding online during the Covid-19 lockdowns.

Clare Roche studied coding online during the Covid-19 lockdowns. Source: SBS / Cassandra Bain

”I walked away from it going ‘code is cool!’,” she said.

“I was so surprised by how creative it was…it’s opened up the door and given me lots of different opportunities.”

Applications for Code Like a Girl internships can be made online at codelikeagirl.com/internships.

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