In recent decades, women in the tech industry have made great strides in overcoming biases in the workplace and in hiring practices.
Like many industries today, the tech sector is providing more and more opportunities for women to build their own careers. My own journey at Telstra is a testament to that.
Overcoming personal and professional challenges
My main personal challenge is one I was unfortunately born with: self-doubt, self-defeat and self-sabotage. This continued on through high school, university and long afterward where I would sometimes turn down opportunities and say no unless I was completely sure I could do a job. I would put myself down believing it was a sign of modesty.
But this internal dialogue was also mirrored in my surroundings. At university, I was discouraged from pursuing a career in tech specialising in digital forensics as it’s a very male-dominated industry.
To be taken seriously and accepted as an equal to my male counterparts in the same role has been a long, hard road. But the moments where I took a leap and dove into the unknown was where I experienced the most personal development and growth.
It really took a great leader to recognise my abilities. They were able to prod me in the right way, get me to move out of my comfort zone and believe in myself.
My advice for women in tech
It’s really important to build yourself a solid support network, seek out industry events and join industry groups. There is the Australian Women in Security Network (AWSN) and the Australian Women in Security Network Cadets (AWSN Cadets). There are many experienced men and women who are supportive of new talent entering the industry. Networking will help you connect.
Be open to new opportunities, even if people, or your own inner voice, are telling you “no.” A very wise industry influencer once told me, “if you’re feeling challenged, it means you are growing!”
Know who you are and your values as an individual. Write them down on post-it notes and put them somewhere to view when you need to remember your strengths. Even though there is far more support for women working in and seeking out career opportunities in the tech industry, you still have to be your own best friend.
What Telstra is doing
My team at Telstra sits within the Threat Research and Intelligence group led by Chris Mohan. Chris is an industry-recognised champion of change and an active supporter of women in cyber security. He has actively encouraged me to become more visible in the industry and work with other organisations in cyber security, such as the Australian Women in Security Network.
He has pushed me and other female colleagues out of our comfort zones to speak publicly and is a supporter of diversity in thinking and skills, not just gender.
Telstra also supports its people with memberships so we can attend industry events with organisations such as the Australian Information Security Association and conferences such as CyberCon. Some Telstra teams also have industry partnerships with sponsorship that offers us opportunities to attend conferences and networking events aimed exclusively at women, such as FitT (Female in IT and Telecommunications). There is also the option of free training via LinkedIn Learning for all employees to access and improve their skills.
As the largest telecommunications and technology company in Australia, Telstra offers many different career opportunities for diverse skill sets. It encourages and supports flexible working, and there are internal support groups for women such as Brilliant Connected Women (BCW) — a group that supports and champions gender equality. This group is open to all Telstra people and creates opportunities within the organisation for women across the company.
If you want to learn about why Telstra is passionate about diversity and inclusion, you can find out here.
If you’re interested in bringing your skills to a company that champions diversity, take a look at our latest job opportunities.