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Blog - Women & Software Engineering (1000 x 563) (2)

Academy Xi Blog

Code of Entry: Women & Software Engineering

By Academy Xi

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Blog - Women & Software Engineering (1000 x 563) (2)

With International Women’s Day on the 8th of March, this blog explores how progress in tech industries now hinges on the progress of women in tech careers, and why neither should be taken for granted. 

Every important narrative has its beginnings and the story of women in tech is no exception. 

The year is 1842 and Londoner Ada Lovelace is intently writing algorithms that will revolutionise the capabilities of Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine.

Inking-out intricate maths that sequences all of the engine’s inputs, Lovelace is also making her mark on tech history. She is becoming the first ever computer programmer.   

Babbage has been immortalised as a tech innovator, a forefather of computer science and an architect of modern industry.    

If Charles Babbage’s name has a familiar ring to it, ask yourself, does Ada Lovelace’s? 

Let’s spell it out one more time. The first ever programmer was a woman. It’s a piece of history that should glimmer in all our memories. What does it mean if it doesn’t? 

Well, it’s always been harder to get proper recognition as a woman in tech. 

Fast forward two centuries, it’s International Women’s Day on the 8th of March, 2022 and a day in the calendar when many leading women across various industries should be fully recognised and celebrated. 

It’s also a day when the hot-button topic of gender balance in the tech workforce will be debated more hotly than usual. Lots of tech industry commentators believe we’ve entered into the 4th industrial revolution, characterised by Forbes as the meshing of human productivity and life in general with tech and digital industries. 

This leads to a burning question – is an accurately representative demographic shaping the tech that shapes all of our lives?

Women in software engineering

While gender barriers in digital industries are fast crumbling, the general consensus is that the number of women working in tech needs to be much higher. Drilling down into software engineering numbers specifically, it’s a belief backed-up by hard statistics. According to a 2021 worldwide software engineering survey, of 82,286 professional respondents:

  • 91.67% were male
  • 5.31% were female
  • 1.42% were non-binary
  • 2.67% preferred not to disclose

Though gender inequality is steadily reducing in many parts of the world, the World Economic Forum pinpoints only six countries (Belgium, Denmark, France, Latvia, Luxembourg and Sweden) where women have equal work rights and employment opportunities when compared to men. 

Truthfully, there’s no way to sugarcoat workforce gender inequity on an international scale. 

Considered a nation home to many of the world’s most progressive tech companies, US numbers for women software engineers do reveal a significant improvement. A lopsided balance remains however. A 2021 survey found that of 329,559 US software engineers:

  • 67% were male 
  • 25.1% were female
  • 7.9% preferred not to disclose  

To fully understand the gender disparity in software engineering, it’s necessary to move back down the talent pipeline to an educational level. This sheds light on how women are exposed (or underexposed) to tech skills from an early age, and what’s being done in Australia to empower more women in tech.

Gender balance and tech education

Differences in gender engagement with tech become measurable as soon as specialist disciplines are added to the high school curriculum in Australia. As of 2021:

  • Only 26.3% of year 12 females were enrolled in subjects related to Information and Communication Technology. 

As far as traditional schooling is concerned, the uptake of these subjects is a pivotal phase in receiving a specialised tech education long-term. 

The Australian government’s Equity Monitor 2021 report on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) found that lowered participation in tech-related subjects “directly impacts future employment opportunities”, whether that’s in a tech career or another role that calls for day-to-day digital capabilities. 

Around the time many young women are making tertiary education plans or searching for job opportunities, the tech space has already been defined, by school experiences at least, as a domain for ‘boys and their toys’. 

Further down the pipeline, this leaves a raft of women playing catch-up with men who were more immersed in digital skills from a young age. Equity Monitor does report that government initiatives designed to stimulate tech engagement with younger women are starting to shift the balance of statistics, as:

  • The proportion of women enrolled in Australian STEM university courses rose from 70,000 in 2015 to 81,000 in 2020. 

While the numbers are heading in the right direction, they’re still eclipsed by male participation levels. 

It’s no surprise then that there’s now a trend whereby women are successfully following alternative pathways into tech careers. Women are choosing learning journeys which help them work around the traditional tech education system that still predominantly services men. 

Academy Xi and female software engineers

At Academy Xi, we believe that for tech industries to reach their true potential and maturity, as many people as possible will need the chance to reach their professional potential. 

Academy Xi helps thousands of people from all walks of life transform their careers by developing practical industry-needed skills related to tech, data, design, digital marketing and business.

In the spirit of International Women’s Day, we’re proud to note that currently 65% of all Academy Xi graduates identify as female. Diversity is at the heart of what we do and why we do it.

With its mission of turning “education into employment systems to prepare, place, and support people into life-changing careers that would otherwise be inaccessible”, Generation Australia now partners with Academy Xi and shares our emphasis on championing workforce diversity, tech accessibility and equal opportunity in digital careers.  

Academy Xi’s Olivia Bowden recently interviewed four people who’ve helped cultivate a “collaborative ecosystem” that exists between Generation Australia and Academy Xi.

All of these interviewees are either applying software engineering skills developed with Academy Xi in industry, or have mentored learners in our courses to help them develop career-altering capabilities.

Ayushi Karn

Ayushi Karn was a System Administrator, but re-trained and became a Software Delivery Engineer at Clear Dynamics Pty Ltd. Karn optimistically points out:

From my experience, the web development field used to be male dominated. These days there are plenty of senior female developers people want to work with because of their experience and knowledge. - Ayushi Karn

Unlike in times past, most tech firms are simply unwilling to lose out on the deepest pool of talent, just because of inherited bias and reluctance to hire or promote women. 

This trend is further exacerbated by the ongoing digital skills shortage being experienced by nearly every Australian organisation with digital transformation plans. Passing over the best person for a job for any reason is just a limiting business practice. Following this pattern over a period of time is fundamentally unsustainable. This ties in neatly with International Women’s Day 2022 theme of sustainability. 

Ethical motivations for gender equality are now joined by industrial performance incentives, which are limitlessly scalable, from individual companies, to markets and entire international economies, all of which benefit from having the best brains on the job.

Laying out its roadmap for a more balanced workforce, the Australian Government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency equates greater opportunities for women with:

  • Improved national productivity and economic growth
  • Increased organisational performance
  • Enhanced ability of companies to attract talent and retain employees
  • Better organisational reputation

Read this list once more. Ask yourself, from an industrial standpoint, is there anything essential it doesn’t cover? 

It’s a bullet point description of a healthy Australian economy, made up of healthy businesses, powered by a diverse workforce in which everyone is given a healthy chance to contribute what they’re really capable of. It isn’t a utopia, only to be dreamed of and never realised. It’s where Australia is heading, slowly but surely.

Laize Ferraz

Laize Ferraz notes that biases of every kind are rapidly breaking down in Australian tech, where industries are “actually diverse in so many ways: gender of course, but also in terms of nationality, background, age, transferable skills and career experience.”

Ferraz, a lawyer turned software engineer with PALO IT, has experience as a web development instructor with Academy Xi and Generation Australia. Asked to give advice to any woman keen to make it in tech, Laize observes:

Don’t buy into the traditional expectations around what a woman can and can’t do. - Laize Ferraz

These words could easily be a potent tagline for International Women’s Day. A simple mantra that many the world over now buy into wholeheartedly. 

Our collective mindset toward the contribution women can make to tech is quickly evolving. It has to be 50-50, a completely even split. Anything less and we’re only really cheating ourselves and limiting our potential. It’s always been this way.

Circling back to this blog’s beginning to illustrate the point, without Lovelace’s ingenuity and intuition that much more could be done with a tech invention, the Analytical Engine would have been nothing more than another iteration of a basic calculator.

The future for women in tech

Addressing the Australian tech skills shortage specifically, Equity Monitor notes that where women are concerned, they’re now fixing “a leaky pipeline” that sees Australia’s talent pool limited by the underrepresentation of half of the population. 

Noting a gradual reframing of gender roles in tech-related fields, Equity Monitor documents that:

  • The proportion of women working across all STEM-qualified industries rose from 24% in 2016 to 28% in 2020.
  • The proportion of women key management personnel and senior managers in STEM industries grew from 18% in 2016 to 23% in 2020.

These fixes are not short-term. They’re designed to promote permanent changes in the workforce demographic and lasting chances for more women to demonstrate what can really be done with tech. 

If you’re a woman, passionate about tech and reading this blog thinking “I’d like to be a part of the progress”, there’s never been a better time to show the people what you’re here for. 

Academy Xi offers industry-approved, practical digital skills courses in tech & data, design and business & marketing that are built and taught by practising experts. 

We’ve helped thousands like you fast-track their tech industry ambitions and carve out careers that realise their true potential. Read about the Academy Xi and Generation Australia partnership here for first-hand, real-life stories about what it takes to transition into tech and what’s being done to tackle gender balance in today’s digital industries.

For women with tech aspirations, Academy Xi wants all doors to be open and never closed.

With many like-minded companies and organisations now insisting on equal opportunities for women, expect to see tech inch closer and closer to an industry that is completely uncoded.

Explore the Software Engineering courses offered by Academy Xi.

Student Spotlight: Ryochi Tanaka

Academy Xi Blog

Student Spotlight: Ryochi Tanaka

By Academy Xi

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Ryochi followed his passion, retrained in software engineering and left sales to become a full-stack developer.

Student Spotlight: Ryochi Tanaka

After a few years of trying to crack the art of coding, Ryochi joined the Software Engineering: Transform course. Find out how Ryochi’s passion for programming developed and how the course helped him land an exciting new full-stack developer role with Moonward.

Thanks for chatting with us today, Ryochi. Can you tell us about your career history?

I was born and raised in Japan but moved to Brisbane in 2018. After I graduated from university in Japan, I took the mainstream path, whereby you get a traditional education and then seek out financial stability by finding work with a big company. After graduation, I started working as a recruiting consultant – which was a role that focused on sales.

I dealt with companies operating in various fields, but I occasionally consulted with people working in IT and was always interested to find out about what was going on in the tech industry. At that time, I wasn’t completely satisfied with my sales career.

Arriving in Australia, I managed to get a sales job with a food supplier in Brisbane and stayed with the company for about 2 years, but I knew deep down that I wanted a very different career.

I felt a sense of freedom in Australia – there was no need to live-up to the stereotypes of what a successful person should do in their professional life. I realised that I had options – I had a chance to do anything I wanted and could follow my passion.

A friend had introduced me to coding years before at university. It was a cool experience that made a big impression on me. Initially, my motivation to learn software engineering didn’t come from a concrete decision to establish a career as a coder, but more from a desire to get back in touch with a sense of enjoyment.

I knew that if I spent my time practising a skill that gave me real pleasure it would lead to a happier and healthier lifestyle. That’s when I started dedicating myself to coding.

How did you arrive at studying with Academy Xi?

Well, that was a journey in itself! Once I made the decision to learn how to code, I carried out loads of research. I looked into learning methods, schools, online resources and all the different programming languages.

I started by completing a Certificate IV in Programming, which I studied for while I was still working in sales. It took about 3 hours of my time each week, which was a manageable workload, but the qualification mostly focused on the theory of programming. I spent hardly any time practising coding hands-on and didn’t get much support from the course provider.

I graduated with a logical understanding of programming but very little practical coding experience. After that, I taught myself JavaScript for a couple of months and managed to build some simple applications.

I was keen to develop a career as a full-time coder by that stage, but didn’t have the confidence to work as a professional programmer, so I started researching courses again. I decided I needed more practical training to boost my confidence and luckily, that’s when I discovered Academy Xi.

What convinced you to enrol in the Software Engineering course?

Initially, I was a little hesitant to take another online course, since my first experience hadn’t lived up to my expectations.

After looking closely at the Academy Xi Software Engineering: Transform course, I realised that the curriculum and syllabus were really thoughtfully put together.

All the online course materials were perfectly organised and gave a very clear breakdown of the skills I would develop. There was lots of emphasis on gaining coding experience, which is exactly the kind of course I was after.

Another big plus was the promise of lots of guidance and support. The course offered everything that was missing from the first qualification.

Finally, I compared the course content and price to other major bootcamps and decided that Academy Xi was by far the best option.

How did you find the course?

Honestly, there was a lot to learn! Luckily, my instructor was Albert and he dedicated a lot of his time to making sure the students grasped all the skills.

Albert was knowledgeable and understood coding inside-out, but as well as being an expert, he was a really caring and helpful person. He genuinely wanted the whole cohort to develop all the skills the course taught.

There were stages when the coding became pretty complicated and Albert always made himself available to explain. If anyone in the cohort had a question, he responded within the hour. Even if someone was stuck, they were never stuck for too long!

If any of us were really struggling with a particular module or project, Albert was flexible enough to rearrange our timelines so that we had a chance to get to grips with it. In software engineering, that kind of approach is vital, because each new skill builds on the last.

What was your most important takeaway from the course?

It completely changed my mindset toward being a programmer. When I was trying to learn to code by myself, the more I found out about programming, the more I realised there were skills I didn’t have. It really knocked my confidence when it came to applying for jobs.

Albert has developed software for multiple companies and knows from experience that the key to being a successful programmer is a willingness to work with new technologies. He helped me understand that the field is always evolving, so programmers have to evolve too. Learning new skills is an essential part of the job.

Early in the course, I stopped seeing the things I couldn’t do as obstacles, but as opportunities to evolve and improve. Everything I did throughout the course gave me the chance to reinforce that mindset.

Albert also told me that being able to adjust to new technologies is often more important to employers than experience. That boosted my confidence and I started applying for jobs just a couple of weeks after the course started.

Thankfully, it didn’t take long after graduation for me to land a new role as a full-stack developer with Moonward, a design-led app development agency.

Nicely done, Ryochi! Do you have a few words of advice for anyone considering an Academy Xi Software Engineering course?

The course outcomes have been fantastic for me. Studying Software Engineering with Academy Xi helped me secure a new role and has given me the skills and experience needed to really perform. I use the knowledge I developed throughout the course all the time.

However, completing the course takes hard work and you do have to pick up a lot of new skills in quite a short period of time. Before you start the course, you have to be fully committed and passionate about learning to code.

If someone seriously wants to be a software engineer, I’d advise them not to get an online certificate, or study alone, and definitely to join Academy Xi instead. Speaking from experience, Academy Xi courses are well taught and give you everything you need to learn to code to a really high level.

Safety By Design Info

Academy Xi Webinars

Safety By Design

By Academy Xi

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New global legislation is demanding corporate responsibility for keeping vulnerable users safe online. As a direct result, industry demand for safe, ethical design is skyrocketing. As developers and designers, we hold the keys to making digital products safe.

Discover what you can do to upskill, understand risks and make sure the products you create are a force for good.

Join our speakers: 

In this video, you’ll learn:

  • Why demand for safe, ethical design is skyrocketing
  • How online child abuse is the world’s fastest growing major crime
  • Why being unprepared or unaware of the risk to users is no longer acceptable
  • How new global legislation is increasing corporate responsibility around safe online practice
Want to keep up to date with the latest webinars from Academy Xi? Follow us here on LinkedIn.