25 years of empowering women in STEM

For 25 years – long before it was a hot topic on the political agenda – Women in Technology (WiT) has been advocating for gender equality on behalf of women studying or working in professions within information technology and other fields across Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

According to Australia’s STEM Workforce Report 2020, published by the Office of the Chief Scientist, digital innovation is expected to deliver $315 billion in gross economic value to Australia between 2020-2030.

Yet women are still significantly underrepresented in many STEM professions – especially within information technology – an inequity that urgently needs to be addressed if Australia is to take full advantage of future opportunities provided by STEM-driven industries and a more global, digital economy.

Lisa Cawthorne, General Manager of Women in Technology, says creating a supportive community environment that empowers women to thrive and progress as STEM professionals and leaders plays a crucial in helping to bridge this gap.

“We were the first organisation to bring women from all STEM disciplines, all ages and all career levels together in a single, inclusive community,” says Lisa.

“We empower women to unlock their potential and create a thriving career within STEM by providing opportunities for women to experience a sense of belonging and build meaningful connections; to develop the mindset, confidence and essential skills needed to build a thriving career; and gain the recognition they deserve for their contributions towards advancing research, policy, social and economic development.”

Even though we’ve come a long way towards equality, diversity and inclusion within STEM professions since 1997, Lisa says that women still continued to be disadvantaged by bias, discrimination or gender inequality.

“These barriers can be more challenging for women across STEM who are from Indigenous, culturally diverse or non-English speaking backgrounds, as well as those with a disability or who live in regional or rural Australia,” says Lisa.

“These ongoing challenges faced by women in STEM not only impacts their long-term career development, but ultimately holds women back from realising the full potential they have to offer this world.”

According to Ms Cawthorne, creating an environment where women can thrive as STEM professionals and progress as leaders is a shared responsibility between organisations like WiT, our government, academia, industry, advocacy groups, individual workplaces and the wider community.

“It is crucial for WiT to continue joining forces with tech companies, start-ups, small businesses, government agencies, major universities, research enterprises, and large corporations,” says Lisa.

“Collectively, we can work towards creating a fairer and more equitable society where all Australians have the opportunity to participate in and benefit from Australia’s growing digital economy and thriving STEM industries. Because together, we are stronger.”

As a member-based organisation with more than 8,000 members and affiliates and 48,500 supporters, WiT relies on the funding support from partners and sponsors to provide a supportive community environment for members and deliver the 40+ programs and events (including our flagship WiT Awards) that are critical to the organisation’s purpose of unlocking the potential of women in technology and across the wide world of STEM.

WiT offers a range of partnership options that can be tailored to align with the needs of businesses and organisations of all sizes.

For more information about partnership opportunities with Women in Technology, please contact Lisa Cawthorne, General Manager of Women in Technology, via email or call 0430 219 091.