Ola Barshtman Speaks on International Women’s Day

Ola Barshtman, Systems Engineering Manager, Speaks on International Women’s Day

“I think it’s important to address the prejudice and inequality that still exists in the tech sector. I’m a mechanical engineer and I’ve always worked in male-dominated environments. Throughout my career, I have not found any gender-specific skills that are required to do this job well.

“When I was finishing my B.Sc in Mechanical Engineering 16 years ago, in Tel Aviv University, there were 80 people in my course and only 10 per cent were female. Historically, engineering was considered a man’s job. But the historical reasons for that prejudice are no longer valid.

“Unfortunately, I think the global pandemic has created an even bigger inequality between men and women. I know of many women who had full-time roles and had to sacrifice them to look after children when schools and daycare were closed.

In my opinion, the current culture, childcare availability, and fees are the biggest roadblocks to women’s ability to work full time. Ultimately childcare needs to be cheaper or properly funded to enable more women to go back to work and make it financially viable.

“There should be more women working in the technology sector because diversity is good for businesses and teams, and we should start introducing technology as early as primary school. Young children might not understand what a mechanical engineer does or what roles could be available to them in the IT sector.

“In saying that I can see that this is changing, as my 11-year-old daughter has been learning coding skills at school. We all have a responsibility to talk about different career paths with our children and encourage them to think about roles outside of the traditional ones dominated by women.

“It’s not just about attracting women to the tech sector but retaining them. When choosing an employer, it’s important to ask about work-life balance and flexibility as well as opportunities to work from home or part-time. There is no reason for the pay gap to still be present in Australia. If the person has the right qualifications and experience for the job, they should get equal pay. We should be addressing that and the gender diversity issues not only in the tech sector but in every other part of the economy and break the bias.”

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