Balancing out inequality in the tech industry

Dedicated mentoring programs for women to build their networks and increase their career confidence are an essential part of bridging the gender gap and ensuring diversity across the field of IT, as was identified in an annual report.

The Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Committee, formed by the Faculty of Information Technology (IT) at Monash University, has released its first annual report which aims to accelerate the advocacy of underrepresented and disadvantaged groups in the IT sector.

Inequality is evident across the field of technology and is experienced by many in the form of the gender gap in the industry, uneven access to growth opportunities and the lack of access to a quality IT education.

The EDI Committee was established in 2020 and its purpose is to respond to the issues prevalent within the computing science disciplines and address inequities from the inside out. The annual report identifies the commitments and initiatives in place to achieve a more fair, equal and inclusive industry.

In 2020, the committee put in place measures to monitor and respond to the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic, after it generated new inequities in the sector and exacerbated existing ones.

Made up of a diverse group of professional staff, academic and student representatives, the formal body sets an example to others in the field that equity and diversity can be achieved if it is made a priority.

Associate Dean (Equity, Diversity and Inclusion), Associate Professor Yolande Strengers, who was recently announced as a nominee in the Women in AI Awards, believes there is still much to do in this space, but even the smallest change can have a lasting impact.

“The pandemic has impacted all of us, but women and carers have felt the effects on their studies and careers most acutely, alongside disadvantaged groups like those living with a disability or mental health condition.

“The achievements of the EDI Committee throughout 2020 are a step in the right direction and I hope that we can continue these efforts in 2021,” said Associate Professor Strengers.

The focus of the annual report is on several key strategic areas which approach EDI holistically: community outreach, staff initiatives and student initiatives.

From dedicated diversity and inclusion awards for students, targeted EDI training for professional staff and more equal representation across panels and speaking events, the committee aims to make a lasting impact on the industry.

The initiatives implemented by the EDI Committee align with the wider strategies of the Monash University EDI agenda, which advocates for people of all genders, sexes, sexualities, socio-economic statuses, ethnicities, cultural and linguistic backgrounds, disabilities and medical conditions – including mental health.

In 2021, the committee will build on the achievements outlined in the annual report to improve the opportunities for underrepresented and disadvantaged students and staff within the faculty.

To view the full details of the report, please visit here.