Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Minister Clare Curran says New Zealand's tech sector needs more young women to help break down stereotypes and redress gender imbalance in the industry.
Curran spoke to nearly 200 secondary school girls taking part in ShadowTech 2018, a programme by NZTech pairing girls with female mentors in the IT industry for a day.
“Right now there's a gender imbalance in the tech industry. The sector employs more than 120,000 people, but only 23% are women.
“I want that to change. It needs to be much higher,” Clare Curran says.
“The median salary in New Zealand is $48,800 whereas the median salary for a worker identified as ‘Digital Technology skilled' is $82,000 according to the Digital Skills Report. A career in tech will not only pay young women well but will also help close the gender pay gap in New Zealand," Curran says.
“It's also worrying to note that just three percent of 15-year-old girls are looking at a career in technology. Sorting the gender imbalance can only be good for the sector and the country.
ShadowTech gives secondary school girls the chance to experience the real world of ICT for a day.
They will be matched with 130 leaders in ICT from 34 companies and organisations.
“I want young girls to see there's a future for them in tech and I hope ShadowTech Day encourages and inspires them to study and work in this field,” Curran says.
“Technology is part of every industry and most careers and New Zealand's tech sector is the third largest contributor to our economy. By 2025, this government wants it to be the second largest contributor to GDP.
“To get there, we'll need many more skilled workers. That's why we've introduced the Hangarau Matihiko curriculum, which starts in schools next year, from which we'll build the workforce of tomorrow.
"Exposure to technology from a young age will help address some of the stereotyping issues that tech isn't for girls," says Curran.
“ShadowTech is about understanding what a career in tech can hold and breaking down stereotypes. I hope the students taking up this opportunity discover the opportunities waiting in New Zealand's dynamic technology sector and that they tell their friends all about it.