Tech Ed: Women in IT

Out of the 2500-odd IT professionals and developers at this year's Microsoft Tech Ed, only about 200 are women

Out of the 2500-odd IT professionals and developers at this year's Microsoft Tech Ed on the Gold Coast, only about 200 are women. The attendance of women is up 50 per cent from last year, but it's still a far cry from the number of men pouring through the doors.

Nonetheless, the women got one back today with an interactive workshop — the first meeting of its kind held at Tech Ed. Women in IT is about growing strong female leaders in the IT industry.

Hosted by Microsoft Dynamics developer, Catherine Eibner, the Women in IT event was a chance for women in the industry to discuss workplace issues. Leading women and industry experts workshopped a variety of topics, including finding ways to better support female IT talent.

One of the standout issues was getting your voice heard in a male dominated arena.

"I'd like to see more support from the guys at the top — it's not all about them, it's about us too," said delegate, Jennifer Chan.

To overcome the issue, women say they come especially prepared for meetings, keeping in mind how men may process their contributions.

"You have to prove that you're worth listening to," IT leader, Helen Benge, said.

Confidence is also key, Windows 7 commercial group lead at Microsoft and the woman who is overall responsible for the launch of Windows 7 in Australia, Sara Vaughan, told Computerworld.

For many women in IT, it’s no longer about ‘fitting in’ in a male-dominated, technical environment.

"I think now the shoe is on the other foot, we've spent all this time trying to achieve solutions in a certain way, and I think men now need to start achieving things our way," Sunshine Coast Grammar School IT manager, Karen Reardon, said.

They key, said Microsoft relationship marketing manager, Linda Birchall, is in encouraging a work environment that is open to everybody. In that spirit, the event was open to all.

The group also worked to model solutions for growing strong female leaders in the IT industry.

"Sometimes women think that they can't be technical, but they can be," IT leader, Carol Fisher, said.

Despite the female IT leaders desire to see more women at Tech Ed and in the industry, on the plus side, the bathroom queues for women have never looked better!

- Kathryn Edwards has traveled to Tech.Ed as a guest of Microsoft.

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