Updated 19 August 2016
By Chris Sheedy
Women are in the minority in the field of technology, which makes it all the more impressive that these five entrepreneurs have been able to find success with their daring and innovative start-ups.
Few industries are as male-dominated as technology. A recent special report called Solving for XX, analysing diversity figures from 11 of the world’s top tech firms, revealed that an average of 30 per cent of jobs in tech are taken by women. In 2014 only 10 per cent of technical roles at Twitter, and 17 per cent at Google, were filled by females, the report said.
In Australia, just 28 per cent of the ICT workforce is occupied by women, according to the Australian Computer Society and Deloitte’s Digital Pulse report. Although the problem could be far worse, it's worth bearing in mind that females constitute 43 per cent of the workforce across all professions.
Dr Jenine Beekhuyzen, lecturer and researcher at Queensland’s Griffith University, says that out of 37 students in the first-year IT course she is teaching, only one is female.
The women below have not only broken into the tech world, but have created their own successes, developing flourishing, pioneering businesses even while the gender imbalance in the technology world continues.
1. Danielle Neale: founder Bespoke Software
In its simplest form, Danielle Neale says, innovation is about being curious. It was pure curiosity that took her from aspiring photographer to successful entrepreneur.
Neale’s business, Bespoke, (she is also COO of Buckham & Duffy Consultants), creates software for the unique needs of established businesses. The inspiration behind the business, and behind Neale’s passion for all things tech, came during a photography course.
“As a frustrated artist, I somehow discovered Photoshop and immediately fell in love with all things digital,” she says. “I could see the potential straight away.”
Software development, Neale says, is about problem-solving. The pace of change in business means there are endless fascinating problems that cannot be solved with off-the-shelf software. So she took this new-found passion and ran with it, completing several courses to learn the skills to create software solutions.
“It's challenging for women in technology. Depending on the environment, there can be a lot of pressure to prove yourself… it can be intimidating and isolating,” says Neale.
“But on the other hand, the industry is changing and there is a lot of support and a strong demand for more women to enter STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] fields, so I think more women should go for it.”