IT Brief New Zealand logo
Technology news for New Zealand's largest enterprises
Story image

Microsoft: There’s no such thing as a typical ‘techie’

By Julia Gabel
Mon 12 Mar 2018
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Article by Vanessa Sorenson, director of Enterprise Microsoft New Zealand

It’s 125 years since New Zealand became the first country in the world to give women the vote.

We’ve recently elected our third female prime minister, who will be the world’s second modern leader to give birth while in office. We are in many respects an impressively progressive nation when it comes to gender diversity.

However - we can’t celebrate just yet. We’re still at the base of the curve when it comes to gender equality, especially when it comes to the technology industry.

Time’s not up – but it is ticking. It’s time we saw equal opportunities for every Kiwi child, whether that’s access to technology, role models that break down stereotypes or flexible workplaces where having children, emotions or soft voices are not barriers to success. And it starts with businesses like us.

We’ve been talking about how to improve things for almost as long as I’ve worked in the industry – I was at Spark for almost 25 years – but as enterprise director at Microsoft New Zealand, I still encounter a lot of companies grappling with how to make their organisations fairer and more comfortable for everyone.

The talk hasn’t yet translated into action. A situation with such complex causes as gender imbalance can’t be solved by single policies like affirmative hiring. If we want to ensure we have the widest possible pool of talent coming to work for us, we need to get that foundation in early.

That means businesses, the government and education providers need to work together to provide all students with access to technology from primary school through to university. If many graduates aren’t comfortable using technology, we’re missing out on so many potential female leaders.

Though smart devices seem to be everywhere, not everyone has equal access. While I was on the board of my children’s school, a decile-five primary school in Ōrākei, Auckland, our IT committee arranged for children without internet access at home to come in early and work online, set up development afternoons for them to learn new skills, and provided each classroom with devices.

Some organisations are doing great things to bridge the decile gap, and the more we do this, the more likely we will spark any child’s interest in technology. I am also leading the diversity and inclusion initiative within Microsoft, as the more diverse our perspectives are, the greater our ability to tap into new ideas. 

I’m very proud of our partnership with Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, working together to drive technology and bring heritage stories to life. 

We also need to show girls that technology isn’t just a boys’ club, it isn’t just programming, and that they’re already doing – and enjoying – the sorts of things we look for at Microsoft every day.

My children have fun on the Surface Hubs at work all the time, but they don’t realise what they’re actually doing is collaborating using technology. We need to break it down, so more girls and young women understand the huge range of possibilities an IT career offers.

I don’t think of myself as a typical ‘techie’, and the truth is such a thing doesn’t exist. If we say women aren’t suited to IT, this overlooks that IT gurus are creative designers, facilitators, good at learning new languages, experts at helping customers through change and dedicated to making other people’s lives easier.

If business mentors make that clear to female students, that creativity and empathy are just as important in this industry as any other, I think we’ll see the gender gap disappear.

Coming up in the overwhelmingly male environment of IT and telecommunications, I missed having a woman mentor who would understand my experience and reassure me that being myself, feelings and all, was not a handicap to success.

The amazing Peggy Johnson, executive vice-president of business development at Microsoft in the US, recently said that once she stopped trying to emulate macho leaders who postured and shouted, and acted like herself instead, people listened.

The same happened to me. That’s why it’s crucial that all women in the industry help each other and encourage greater diversity in the industry. I think it’s our responsibility to shine a torch for up and coming female leaders.

It took having children for me to realise that working smarter is better than working harder. Good workplace policies make an IT career more attractive to everyone, not just women.

I told myself that I needed to work long hours, that toughening up and putting up was just professional because that was all I saw. It’s true that this got me far in my career, but these days I’m grateful to work at a flexible and inclusive workplace, where employees are trusted to work away from the office, and no one sees that as “unproductive”.

As well as offering 20 weeks’ parental leave, Microsoft also allows employees to take up to four weeks off on full pay to care for ill family members.

As a mother returning to work, such policies are invaluable, as is having a workplace culture that truly recognises its employees – men and women – are human beings with different needs. Now, 60% of Microsoft’s senior leaders in New Zealand are women.

While we may not see a complete transformation overnight, we have the right idea about inclusiveness – we just need to talk less and act more.

I’m optimistic that if businesses and policy-makers support our children in learning different technologies, if female leaders step up and show young women the many different faces an IT guru can wear, and we think differently about what effectiveness looks like, we’ll see IT become the career of choice for all genders.

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
SNP unveils next generation of CrystalBridge software platform
Data is a key pillar of every customer-centric organisation, as it relies on agile decisions to become increasingly sustainable and intelligent.
Story image
FIDO Alliance releases guidelines for optimising UX with FIDO Security Keys
The new guidelines aim to accelerate multi-factor authentication deployment and adoption with FIDO security keys.
Story image
Martech experts reveal the “buzz” on personalisation
In the digital age, innovative technology must be leveraged to power an efficient and effective relationship marketing strategy.
Story image
Robotic Process Automation / RPA
Salesforce announces latest generation of MuleSoft
Salesforce has introduced the next generation of MuleSoft, a unified solution for automation, integration and APIs to automate any workflow.
Story image
Forrester names Talend Leader in enterprise data fabric
Forrester has named Talend a leader among enterprise data fabric providers in the Forrester Wave: Enterprise Data Fabric, Q2 2022 report.
Story image
Airwallex launches global payment services in New Zealand
The launch will enable businesses in New Zealand to tap into Airwallex's global payments services, offering an alternative to traditional banks.
Story image
Vulnerable APIs costing businesses billions every year
Large companies are particularly vulnerable to the security risks associated with exposed or unprotected APIs as they accelerate digital transformation.  
Story image
Video: 10 Minute IT Jams - An update from CrowdStrike
Scott Jarkoff joins us today to discuss current trends in the cyber threat landscape, and the reporting work CrowdStrike is doing to prevent further cyber harm.
Story image
Honeywell launches new carbon energy management software for buildings
The new Carbon & Energy Management service allows building owners to track and optimise energy performance against carbon reduction goals, down to a device or asset level.
Story image
How Airwallex helps businesses achieve globalisation success
As markets continue to shift, businesses need to be able to provide the same quality of service for customers regardless of where they are located around the world.
Story image
Cloud Security
Palo Alto Networks bolsters cloud native security offerings
Latest Prisma Cloud platform updates help organisations continuously monitor and secure web applications with maximum flexibility.
Story image
Trend Micro
5G network projects driven by improving security and privacy
Trend Micro's new study reveals the prospect of improved security and privacy capabilities are the main motivations behind private 5G wireless network projects.
Story image
The best ways to attract young talent during labour shortages
New research from Citrix reveals hybrid working and ventures into the metaverse are top of mind for Gen Z workers.
Story image
Data ownership
Brands must reclaim trust by empowering data ownership
According to Twilio's new State of Personalisation Report 2022, 62% of consumers expect personalisation from brands, and yet only 40% trust brands to use their data responsibly and keep it safe.
Story image
How the metaverse will change the future of the supply chain
The metaverse is set to significantly change the way we live and work, so what problems can it solve in supply chain management?
Story image
Hybrid workforce
Why hybrid working is here to stay and how to ace it
Citrix's new report reveals hybrid workers are more productive and engaged at work than their office and completely remote counterparts.
Story image
Stock security features inadequate in face of rising risk
"Organisations must proactively find ways of identifying unseen vulnerabilities and should take a diligent, holistic approach to cybersecurity."
Story image
Oracle Cloud
Commvault, Oracle to deliver Metallic Data Management as a Service
"We are excited to partner with Commvault and enable our customers to restore and recover their most mission-critical cloud data."
Story image
Hybrid Cloud
HPE GreenLake advances hybrid cloud experience with new services
"The innovations unveiled today further build on our vision to provide the market with an unmatched platform to spur innovation and drive transformation.”
Story image
Online identity theft is rising in NZ - here’s what to do about it
It may start with a few stolen details online, but it could end with thousands of dollars missing or worse, a reputation down the drain.
Story image
How to achieve your monthly recurring revenue goals
Monthly recurring revenue (MRR) is the ultimate goal, the most important issue on which anyone in the IT channel should focus.
Story image
MYOB improves data visibility and user access with Snowflake
"Solutions such as Snowflake allow us to better understand our customers and make evidence-based decisions on what features work best for them."
Story image
Digital Transformation
What CISOs think about cyber security, visibility and cloud
Seeking to uncover the minds of CISOs and CIOs across Asia Pacific, my company recently asked Frost & Sullivan to take a snapshot of cloud adoption behaviour in the region.
Story image
Zero trust security adoption rises 27% in just two years
A survey of WAN managers has revealed that multi-factor authentication and single sign-on are the top zero trust features implemented.
Story image
New Relic
How to tackle the great brain drain in the tech industry
Attracting and retaining tech talent in Australia and New Zealand is becoming increasingly challenging, with the 2022 Hays Salary Guide showing a startling 91% of employers facing a skills shortage.
Story image
Internet of Things
Domino's Pizza: A blueprint for secure enterprise IoT deployment
Increasingly, organisations are embracing smart technologies to underpin innovations that can enhance safety and productivity in every part of our lives, from industrial systems, utilities, and building management to various forms of business enablement.
Story image
Oracle Cloud Infrastructure expands distributed cloud services
“Distributed cloud is the next evolution of cloud computing, and provides customers with more flexibility and control in how they deploy cloud resources."
Story image
Great Resignation
New SAP study uncovers impact of 'the great resignation'
Coined in 2021, the phrase 'the great resignation' refers to millions of employees globally leaving their jobs. The phenomenon is real and impacting SMEs.
Story image
Dark web
Cybercrime in Aotearoa: How does New Zealand law define it?
‘Cybercrime’ is a term we hear all the time, but what exactly is it, and how does New Zealand define it in legal terms?
Story image
Overcoming hybrid and multi-cloud challenges to drive innovation
Driven by improvements in technology, financial services companies have advanced both internal and external systems and processes, with the likes of digitisation, personalisation and risk management redefining the industry.
Story image
Unknown connections: How safe is public WiFi in Aotearoa?
If it's not your own household WiFi, then who has control of your data and is your connection actually safe?
Story image
Monitors are an excellent incentive for getting employees back
The pandemic has taught us that hybrid working is a lot easier than we would’ve thought, so how can the office be made to feel as comfortable as home? The answer could be staring you in the face right now.
Story image
Why is NZ lagging behind the world in cybersecurity?
A recent report by TUANZ has revealed that we are ranked 56th in the world when it comes to cybersecurity - a look into why we're so behind and what needs to be done.
Story image
Digital Transformation
Stax and Consegna partner to accelerate modernisation
According to a statement, the new alliance will help both companies expand their reach across the region and realise joint goals.
Story image
Enable launches free Wi-Fi in Christchurch city centre
Fibre broadband provider, Enable, and the Christchurch City Council have launched their new Christchurch Free Wi-Fi service in the central city. 
Story image
How TruSens air purifiers can create healthier workspaces
The pandemic has heightened our awareness of our own and others’ health, and made us all much more conscious of the environments we work in.
Story image
Web Development
Whitecliffe fosters careers for the future of tech
Do you want a career in Information Technology, Networking, Web Development, Software Development, or are you looking to upskill?
Story image
Industry-first comprehensive risk-based API security enhances protection
Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) have become a crucial part of operating web and mobile application businesses and are causing significant economic growth in the digital sector.
Story image
SMX partnership with Microsoft leads to NTT recognition
SMX has captured the attention of NTT after receiving positive reviews from businesses across Australasia and beyond for its email security.
Story image
Robust digital warehouse management crucial in Asia-Pacific
Thanks to a network of “cloud” stores, grocery and food delivery providers such as Foodpanda can arrange for these commonly requested items to get packed up and sent over in almost no time.
Story image
TO THE NEW unveils A/NZ Managed Services for Microsoft Azure
TO THE NEW has released Managed Services for Microsoft Azure to meet the growing demand in the A/NZ market and globally.
Story image
Global investment in data centers more than doubled in 2021
DLA Piper's latest global survey finds the total investment in data center infrastructure worldwide rose from USD $24.4 billion in 2020 to USD $53.8 billion in 2021.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Accenture shares the benefits of supply chain visibility
It's clear that gaining better visibility into the supply chain will help organisations avoid excess costs, inefficiencies, and complexity to ultimately improve their bottom line.
Story image
Microsoft names A/NZ Partner of the Year award winners
The awards recognise partners across the globe for their innovative use of Microsoft technologies to help customers succeed.