Hi all. My name is Nick Ellery, and I will be a co-contributor to this blog from hereon in. As a relatively recent addition to the Microsoft team, I sincerely look forward to my charged duties of meeting and working with the academic IT community in Australia.
I noticed with interest that the Australian government recently announced that they will be providing $70,000 in funding to support female employees in the ICT sector. Sheryl Moon's blogs provide a fairly thorough discussion of the matter. Planned joint 'initiatives' (no further details supplied) with the AIIA will aim to make the ICT workplace more appealing to female employees. Hmm...
My sentiments are that the $70,000 is perhaps misplaced, and would better be spent educating high school students or freshman university students as to how interesting and diverse a career in ICT can be. In Tuesday's New York times, there is an outline of how Carnegie Mellon University have instigated, what I believe to be, a much more realistic solution to the problem. They are essentially making an IT degree more generalist and adaptable to meet different people's needs and cater to their interests. I would not think it feasible for such a solution to be rolled out large scale in all universities as it would dramatically water down the knowledge base, but it does begin to address the hole in the market.
It's good to see that the Australian government is at least acknowledging a problem exists. And speaking from Microsoft's point of view, I know our recruiters get very excited when they are given access to talented femae graduates - there is demand there, most definately.
P.S. - from the New York Times article referenced above: "Dr. Lazowska and Dr. Blum, with colleagues at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Google, are working on materials that high school teachers can use to tell students about the challenges and opportunities of computer science."
Microsoft are also undertaking similar efforts in the States and worldwide (incl. Australia). Keep an eye out for our booth in the upcoming Take IT On events for high school students :). The booths will be chock full of information and activities to keep students interested in tertiary IT studies and careers.