DR. LORRAINE GRAY WOMEN IN TECH
Exposing the younger generation to female role models is the most effective way to help them recognise and fulfil their potential.
PD Are issues such as remuneration parity, the likelihood of taking time out to raise a family impacting women in the tech sector?
could inspire young people to get involved in STEM subjects. Companies should be sure to publicise the achievements of their female employees and get the word out about what’s possible for women in the field. By supporting and advocating for more women to become involved in STEM careers, greater diversity can be achieved that will benefit both the organisations that employ them and society as a whole. Having a workplace mentor will also go a long way. On an individual level, you can look for someone you admire and speak up about initiating the mentorship with your company. You may find that you receive support and encouragement that will help forge a path for other women in your workplace.
lot of cross-cutting issues with only the engineering design that changes. Also, because these industries are governed by regulation, there are options to work in government, which I have done for half my career. It’s a very diverse career path and one that continues to inspire me. Do you think there are enough female role models in the tech sector, and did you have a role model when you were starting out? PD
Yes. When I first began my professional journey in STEM (Science, Technology,
Engineering and Mathematics), while getting my PhD, I was a home carer. Decades ago, this was seen as a woman’s role, and to some extent it still is, as uncompensated labour and family leave inequality continues to be an issue. Lack of affordable childcare is a challenge that many families encounter. Ten years ago, while caring for two small children, I considered whether to continue working in government, where the majority of my salary would go to childcare, or start my own company to do contracting, in order to work flexible hours around my children - the latter being the far riskier option, which I opted to take. The less childcare is shared with men or underpinned by affordable care options, the more domestic responsibilities fall on women, and the more difficult it is for them to pursue demanding jobs in technology. Job security around family leave is also a challenge commonly faced by women in any industry. Once I entered the subsea field after working in government, I realised that there is a much higher number of women in academia and government, due to a greater safeguarding of your position, especially regarding maternity and family leave. Many women don’t have the time to pursue an intense career and this significantly restricts their choices.
The permitting and environmental consultancy world is actually very well represented by women. The
technology sector does have a different demographic, with subsea industries largely dominated by men. When I started in the cable industry, the Southern Cross-NEXT team had some great female role models and this provided me with confidence in knowing that there are opportunities for career growth and development. Exposing the younger generation to female role models is the most effective way to help them recognise and fulfil their potential.
Did you find that your gender was a factor when it came to getting jobs in a predominantly
male sector? If so, in what ways did it have an impact on your advancement, positively or negatively?
I think confidence is an issue that especially affects young girls. It impacts ambitions and belief in
what you’re capable of. Furthermore, OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) research shows that adolescent girls express a greater fear of failure than boys – I think lack of self-confidence negatively affected my advancement. Personally, I believe the reason science subjects are less popular with girls is because they require trial and error, where accepting failure is par for the course.
How do you think the gender imbalance in tech can be addressed?
LG Seeing a woman’s achievements, especially on social media, can lead to more attention being paid to women in professional careers. This
Dr. Lorraine Gray, Director of Permitting, Pioneer Consulting.
ISSUE 33 | Q2 2023
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