Nairn wants more women in IT

Mentoring program now in third phase

Special Minister of State Gary Nairn will launch a program tomorrow to increase the number of women in ICT-related professions.

Women in IT Executive Mentoring phase three, or WITEM III, is a Canberra-based ICT mentoring program aimed at accelerating the development of leadership in competencies for senior female technology specialists and professionals.

Nairn said increasing the number of women in ICT leadership positions is an important measure in establishing and maintaining a strong ICT industry and dealing with the ICT skills shortage.

The brainchild of computer giant Dell, WITEM began as a program to address the significantly low numbers of women in the IT industry, with a particular focus on the lack of women in senior IT positions.

Dell partnered with Sydney-based consulting firm Orijen to create the program.

Launched in December 2005, the first WITEM program brought together eight technology companies in a cross-mentoring program. Managing directors from each company mentored a female executive from another participating company for a 12-month period, providing guidance in areas like career development, leadership, and work/life balance.

A second program began in July 2006, broadening its reach to encompass executives in IT departments outside the immediate industry.

Orijen will launch the third WITEM program in Canberra with Minister Nairn.

Orijen managing director Jennifer Morris said until the ICT industry can achieve strong female role models women won't go into IT and it will be seen as "nerdy and blokey".

"WITEM gives women the opportunity to network and learn from industry leaders and each other," Morris said, adding the program covers women on a number of fronts.

"They're all success stories. When asked what they achieved in the program after 12 months and how they benefited, four out of five women said it improved how they do their job, they learned new skills, and it increased their communication either across or up the organization," she said.

Morris said the long-term gains include an increase in self esteem and a stronger sense of professional self.

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