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Exclusive: IT industry called on to help girls Dream IT

26 Jul 2016

The call has gone out for those in IT to speak out to and encourage young girls into IT.

IT community organisation CompTIA ANZ has launched its Dream IT initiative across Australia and New Zealand, with local organisers keen to hear from anyone in the IT sector who would be keen to speak at schools about their career path, or who can facilitate introductions with schools or community groups such as Girl Guides.

Karen Drewitt, CompTIA ANZ executive council member and general manager of The Missing Link, says Dream IT is targeting girls around year seven or eight.

“Research has shown that’s the age a lot of females will turn off the traditional STEM subjects or perhaps stop considering a career in technology or IT,” Drewitt says.

“This program aims to address that and ask them to reconsider it, while showing them that the opportunities are great.”

Kellie Hackney, CompTIA ANZ channel community executive director and commercial sales manager for Tableau Software, says Dream IT is keen to hear from anyone in the industry who would like to help.

“We won’t discriminate against who can come and help us,” Hackney says.

“We’d love to see the broadest range of experience possible so we can give these girls the broadest range of views.”

And the group isn’t just looking for female speakers, with Hackney noting that some of the best advocates about the value and benefit of women in IT have in fact been males.

CompTIA will be holding a speaker training night in Sydney next month. The training will also be run through Skype so those from outside of Sydney can join in.

The launch of the program locally comes as the industry continues to struggle with skills shortages.

“As an industry we are constantly talking about skills shortages, lack of good resources, whatever you want to call it, and this is a program that actually helps address that,” Drewitt says.

Drewitt and Hackney both say they’re keen for Dream IT to work alongside similar programs, rather than competing with others.

Last year CompTIA sponsored the SAP Young Explorers program, another initiative aimed at encouraging young people to explore IT.

“It’s about doing it together – how do we combine goals to do it together and have more impact and have an overall more successful outcome,” Hackney says.

“One of the things CompTIA has done with this program is address students at the right age. This is a critical age for when we seem to lose the females. I think that will certainly help – talking to them before they’ve made up their mind,” adds Drewitt.

DreamIT actively encourages students involved to join other initiatives, such as Girls who Code, to ensure they’re active in their own local communities and further foster their interest in IT.

Anyone interested in becoming a speak can head to CompTIA’s site and register.

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