International Women’s Day – An EdTech Perspective

Posted by Sophie Costello on Mar 8, 2022 3:19:48 PM

Since its inception in 1910, International Women’s Day has offered an opportunity to reflect on the role of women in businesses, politics, families, and communities – particularly in places where women’s contributions are dismissed or undervalued. 

 

 

Of particular interest for many schools, as well as those of us at TASS, is the intersection of women and technology, where stats show that women and girls still make up only 28% of workers in STEM industries. This is compared to non-STEM occupations, where women have made up approximately half of the workforce since 2009.  

 

Statistics Women In Stem@1.5xPercentage of Women currently employed in the STEM industry in comparison to the Percentage of Women currently employed in Non-STEM industries.

 

To combat this disparity, the Australian Government announced the ‘Advancing Women in STEM strategy’ in April 2019. This strategy had 3 key action areas: 

  • Enabling STEM potential through education 
  • Supporting women in STEM careers 
  • Making women in STEM visible 

We’re fortunate at TASS to have women in roles across each of our departments, and at all levels of leadership. Today especially we want to celebrate their achievements and do our part to make women in technology more visible, to help inspire the next generation of women to join EdTech industry.  

For this International Women’s Day, we spoke with some of the influential women that are a major part of the TASS team, from HR to software development. 

Here’s what they had to say: 

 

Getting Started in IT 

When it comes to how they got started in the tech world, family played a major part for some of our team. 

 

My brother was studying IT (developing games), and that encouraged me to pursue a career in IT.
– Nilima, Software Developer at TASS 

 

I was lucky enough to be exposed to computing very early in life and always had access to a computer at home.  I wrote my first program, with the help of my mother, when I was 10 years old.
– Kathleen, Senior Developer and co-creator of the TrackOne Learning Analytics Suite 

 

The impact of family encouragement isn’t surprising given the results of the Australian Government’s 2019-20 Youth in STEM survey, which found that parents and teachers were the greatest influencers of young people’s career decisions.  

Unfortunately, the same survey found that parents of girls were less likely to regularly discuss STEM-related topics with their children. 

In terms of career paths, the results of that survey show that only 27% of school-age girls (12-17) aspire to a STEM-related career. 

 

Girls Interested in Stem@1.5xPercentage of young girls aspiring to join the stem industry.

 

This isn’t dissimilar from the experience of some of the women on the TASS and TrackOne team, who often didn’t start out with this industry in mind. 

 

My first degree was actually in Anthropology, but I soon found myself coming back to Information Technology, surprisingly enough through research into human systems and computing systems. I have a Master of Information Technology from QUT.
– Kathleen, Senior Developer and co-creator of the TrackOne Learning Analytics Suite 

 

I started with the company in an entry level Receptionist position. I moved into Support and then onto Finance/ Payroll & HR, and have been in this position for the better part of 12 years.
– Corina, Accounts and HR Manager for TASS, Edumate and TrackOne  

 

To be honest, I was not a tech kid at all. I was (and am) more a girl who is fond of literature in a wide range of genres. I studied Literature, Social welfare, and Educational Engineering as part of my Bachelor's. When I was in my final semester at uni, I wanted to do something more practical. Education and literature have something in common that their influence on mankind occurs very slowly and acts indirectly. However, I wanted to do something that could have a direct impact on what people need, and also quickly check the visible results. That idea was my turning point to change my future career to a technical person other than a novelist or journalist.
– Audrey, Software Developer at TASS 

 

Working in the EdTech World 

Now that they’re working in IT, there were some strong themes in common when asked what their favourite part of the industry was: 

 

Building solutions that can cause positive change has been my favourite part of Software Development.
– Kathleen, Senior Developer and co-creator of the TrackOne Learning Analytics Suite 

 

I do very much enjoy problem-solving, taking this as my challenge. I am very satisfied with my job to improve the system which fulfills plenty of people's needs. It feels good to contribute to solving people's pain points.
– Audrey, Software Developer at TASS 

 

This focus on problem-solving and tackling change was reiterated across everyone’s responses, when asked what advice they had for girls starting out in the tech industry. 

 

I would say listen to your heart, make some small milestones to achieve your goal.
– Nilima, Software Developer at TASS
 

 

Have confidence in yourself. Taking a chance and trying something new, even if it means failure. This has been one of the biggest opportunities for learning I have had. Change the situation, not yourself, even if that means something new - and don’t let the bastards get you down!
– Kathleen, Senior Developer and co-creator of the TrackOne Learning Analytics Suite
 

 

My role has evolved and changed quite dramatically over the years. What this has taught me is to be adaptable and, although it can be challenging at times, to embrace change.
– Corina, Accounts and HR Manager for TASS, Edumate and TrackOne
 

 

There is no stupid question, every question is worth something you might not even have noticed. No one (not even Dr. Stephen Hawking) knows everything in the first step, so don’t be afraid of errors, this will be the path you have to step on. I would like to think that the current me is made by not a couple of huge successes, but by lots of pieces of small achievements.
– Audrey, Software Developer at TASS 

 

What does International Women’s Day mean to you? 

After looking at their journey to get where they are today, and their advice to women and girls wanting to succeed in this industry, we looked at how this day impacted them. 

 

It is a time to look back and celebrate our life as a woman and feel proud to be women. It’s a day of celebration of our social, economic, cultural, career achievements and victory.
– Nilima, Software Developer at TASS
 

 

A time to think about where we are, the work of women who have come before us, where we see ourselves in the future and how to get there.
– Kathleen, Senior Developer and co-creator of the TrackOne Learning Analytics Suite
 

 

It means the opportunity to reflect on and celebrate the achievements of women, big or small.
– Corina, Accounts and HR Manager for TASS, Edumate and TrackOne 

 

I think my small achievements at this moment are small pieces that help improve women's rights around the world. Fortunately, I was born and raised in a country that can and supports what I want to do without any prejudice against gender. And that fortune continued, I am working for a company that provides an environment where I can improve myself more and allow me to have mistakes to step forward, and more importantly, values me as equal as other staff without prejudice against gender.
– Audrey, Software Developer at TASS
 

 

Finally, when asked about female figures that inspire them, it was difficult for many of the group to choose just one –  

 

My mother is my role model. She sets an inspirational example to me, teaching me how to tackle situations, make wise choices and make the right decisions.
– Nilima, Software Developer at TASS
 

 

Yes! – many in both my personal and professional life.  Women who have overcome adversity in their personal or professional lives, found success in their chosen fields, and who continue to champion women’s rights.
– Kathleen, Senior Developer and co-creator of the TrackOne Learning Analytics Suite
 

 

My best friend. She is doing it all – running a successful business on her own and raising her young family.
– Corina, Accounts and HR Manager for TASS, Edumate and TrackOne
 

 

I was totally inspired by Emma Watson's UN speech of 'HeForShe'. This speech clearly summarised the values of gender equality that had not been organized in my head. An individual's achievement and talent are only due to an individual's efforts, not by any means from the person's gender. And we men and women both should know this fact and believe this idea will let both of us free from any prejudice.
– Audrey, Software Developer at TASS
(you can watch a replay of Emma Watson’s 2014 speech here.) 

 

We'd like to extend a massive thank you to the talented, inspiring women that make up the TASS and TrackOne teams.  

This Women's Day, let the women in your school community know that they are valued and appreciated. 

 

Special thanks to the accomplished women who shared their thoughts and their stories this International Women’s Day: 

Nilima Modi – Software Developer at TASS 

Nilima started as a Java Developer in India, before moving to Australia to study further. She joined the TASS team in 2019, and now works with spec writers and testers on software enhancements and bug fixes. 

 

Kathleen Perrott - Senior Developer and co-creator of the TrackOne Learning Analytics Suite 

Kathleen is responsible for the design and development of the TrackOne Learning Analytics Suite, combining multiple data sources from many different and disparate systems into an accessible and visual platform that allows teachers, parents, and students meaningful access to data. 

 

Corina Manton - Accounts and HR Manager for TASS, Edumate and TrackOne 

Corina joined the TASS team in 2007, starting in an entry-level Receptionist position before moving into Support and then onto Finance/ Payroll & HR. A typical day varies from regular Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable processing, to forecasting and analysing financial data for reporting.  

 

Audrey Kim - Software Developer at TASS 

Audrey started with TASS on a 3 month internship and has now been working full-time as a web developer for 14 months. She works on bug fixes and enhancements, and enjoys helping solve people's pain points. 

 

 

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