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July 22, 2019 | by  | in News |
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Battle Of The SECS’: VUW Failing Women In Tech

The tech industry is well-known for being dominated by men. Victoria is, unsurprisingly, no exception.

Aleisha Amohia, president of Victoria University’s Women in Tech (VUWWIT), says that Victoria needs to do more to support and encourage women and other minorities in the School of Engineering and Computer Science (SECS). 

SECS at VUW mirrors the same gender statistics of other information technology and computer science tertiary programmes across the country, in that less than a fifth of IT Bachelor holders are women (see below).

“At best,” Amohia said, “it’s three women to seven men.” Victoria University was unable to provide data for its own departments before time of publication. 

The Engineering School has an Outreach Coordinator, Pravin Vaz, and an Equity Coordinator, Diana Siwiak, who are trying to make it easier for women and other minorities to enter the programme. 

Awhina, the Māori learning support group, also works with the department, although there are few Māori and Pasifika students enrolled.

Amohia appreciates these efforts, particularly commending the women’s-only computer lab: “The women’s lab was a way to be comfortable in not knowing something; it was a safe space.” 

However, male students would turn up at these labs and ask to be let in, and the labs were only trialled on one course. 

“There’s a lot of dependence on VUWWIT to carry the weight of improving diversity and support, and there’s only so much we can do as a student group. There need to be structural changes,” Amohia says. 

She suggests that the department could hire more diverse academic staff. 

Amohia also wants the department to better publicise diversity initiatives, such as support for Māori students to enter postgraduate programmes. 

VUWWIT is hosting a Women in Tech conference in August to discuss the academic and social aspects of the tech industry. The conference is open to all interested students and staff. 

Contact VUW Women in Tech through vuwwit@gmail.com or on their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/vuwwit/ 

 

Image to include at end here https://figure.nz/chart/pPpphoYjddSYSIzI-jlnqh3Inm5MpY99V

Graph representing completion of IT qualifications by gender in 2018. Women made up 21% of IT Bachelor graduates, 27% of Honours/Postgraduates, 29% of Masters Graduates, and 25% of Doctorate graduates. Data from the Ministry of Education, graph by figure.nz

 

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