blog There’s already been quite a lot of debate on Delimiter regarding Labor’s election promise yesterday to devote $4.5 million towards a grants program to promote, encourage and inspire more Australian girls to learn coding. Some Delimiter readers believe such a move is discriminatory, given there doesn’t seem to be many barriers to entry to women entering the IT workforce at the moment, while others believe it’s a positive step which will help shift the current unequal gender balance in the sector.
Yet another view comes from respected technology journalist Claire Connelly, who believes Government should be part of the solution, but notably not the whole solution, to the issue. Connelly writes in a stirring piece for The Age (we recommend you click here for the full article):
“The problem with government-imposed affirmative action is that it adds to an already growing hostility between genders and creeds, and in this country we can’t afford to have more of that. When companies adopt diversity quotas they do it with a better intention than if one was just imposed on them. Diversity quotas should be the sign of a competitive workplace. The numbers prove it.”
I wrote yesterday that I was supportive of the policy announced by Labor. And that still represents my personal view on the issue.
However, thinking about the issue today, following the past 24 hours of debate, I think the most appropriate position for me to take on this topic in general on an ongoing basis is to leave the debate to others.
From my point of view, although this is an important policy debate, and I am glad that we are having this debate on Delimiter, I don’t personally want to weigh in too heavily into it. The reason is pretty basic: I am male, not female, and I don’t feel that it’s my place to shape policy for women or to preach to women how they should engage with the IT sector.
Just as I don’t think you can have a Minister for Women that’s a man, I don’t think male technology commentators should be shaping policy on female engagement with IT. That would seem to be common sense. There are real and subtle differences between the sexes that shape how we engage with any topic, and this topic is one that I feel only women (and probably the transgendered) can truly have insight into.
That’s why I’m glad that we have strong voices such as Connelly talking about this issue. If I could say anything about this debate, it would be to encourage more women to get involved in it. That would have the effect of pushing the debate forward, and placing it in the right context, but also of helping to educate men about the distinct challenges women face in the IT workforce. That would be useful for all of us.