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National initiative to ignite female students into tech careers


Young New Zealand female students have the opportunity to be mentored by high profile technology companies at Shadow Tech Day in Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland over the next three months. More than 230 students will take part – an increase from about 45 students in previous years.

Being mentored for a day helps to ignite interest and encourage young females to consider careers in the tech industry, NZTech director of member and government Jen Rutherford says.

“The benefits of Shadow Tech Day are of such value to the New Zealand tech industry and economy that NZTech has expanded the successful mentoring programme. This year NZTech has partnered with three tertiary providers Ara Institute of Canterbury, Weltec and Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT) to offer a Shadow Tech Day in each region.

“The New Zealand technology sector has an ongoing need for employees, yet women are in the minority, occupying only 28 percent of professional IT roles overall,” she says.

NZTech chief Graeme Muller says it’s vital for New Zealand’s economic future that more women participate fully in technology. This means encouraging more women to participate in tertiary level study, including at the highest levels.

The more highly educated women are, the better their job and remuneration prospects will be and the more likely they are to contribute ideas and technology to our economy, he says.

NZTech is encouraging more females to consider a career in technology and want to help increase the number of females who choose science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) related subjects at a secondary and tertiary level.

In the 2016 Budget, the government recognises growth in new and emerging hi-tech sectors like the software services sector and commits to continuing to make STEM subjects a priority.

Careers NZ is assisting with Christchurch’s Shadow Tech Day which offers engineering mentorship on top of its IT mentor opportunities.

Rutherford says the New Zealand technology industry is a growing, dynamic and diverse industry to work in and offers pay twice the average pay rates in New Zealand.

“High profile tech companies are very keen to be involved in Shadow Tech Day by supplying mentors as they are all interested in increasing the longer term pipeline of diverse talent entering the tech sector.

“There is an ongoing need to employ individuals with a wide variety of skills and capabilities and gender diversity plays an important part in this. Gender-balanced companies demonstrate improved employee productivity and performance and report better financial results.”

During Shadow Tech Day each student is mentored by a female tech professional with the aim of expanding the student’s knowledge of opportunities and shifting any negative perceptions they may have for a range of tech careers.

The initiative was first introduced to young Auckland females two years ago as a partnership between NZTech and MIT. Edwina Mistry, industry and community engagement manager at MIT organised the first event and found that more than half the students who took part in a mentoring opportunity ended their experience stating they would be interested in working in IT.

Information about Shadow Tech Day:

NZTech We connect, promote and advance the New Zealand Technology ecosystem to help the tech sector and the economy grow.