Western Australia’s leading advocate for women in tech – Women in Technology WA (WiTWA) believes – “If you can see her you can be her, so let’s see her!”
WiTWA Tech [+] Awards
To celebrate women and allyship in technology, WiTWA is hosting its 2021 WiTWA Tech [+] Awards on Friday 5 November at Crown Towers. These awards will shine a light on a diverse representation of Western Australia’s talented female leaders spanning local and national industries.
This year, we’re proud to have six nominees representing Kinetic IT and PROTECT+ in the Tech [+} Awards, each showcasing their inspiring stories and unique pathways into the career they have today. We sat down with each nominee to break down the conversation around being a woman in what has traditionally been a male-dominated ICT industry. We’re excited to celebrate and elevate these women, who have pushed through the challenges, led by example, and continue to make an impact in the ICT community.
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Emily Major-Goldsmith – her story so far
Emily Major-Goldsmith is a bit of a disruptor – and for good reason. The 23-year-old says after completing a degree in cyber security and seeing how underrepresented women and minorities were in the field, it was a natural next step to turn to advocacy alongside her day-to-day work. “Seeing myself as one of a handful of women who completed my degree, the ever-dwindling number of women attending classes and the lack of women lecturers got to me. I started to think about how I could help effect positive change.”
As a PROTECT+ Security Consultant for Kinetic IT, Emily says she makes sure to encourage more women to consider a career in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. “I love my job and what I do and want to see more underrepresented groups come through to share their knowledge with the industry,” Emily says. “Especially in IT, you can go so many places and meet lots of different people. The more representation we bring into the field, the more the industry will grow and develop.”
Emily says it was the impact of mentoring by women leaders and role models that helped her develop a strong connection to her work and industry. As a result, Emily says she has a solid foundation which allows her to share her technical expertise and encourage fellow women throughout the industry. And as a member of Kinetic IT’s Women in IT network, Emily says taking an active role in this space benefits both herself and the industry. “It offers me the chance to continue learning, as well as networking and meeting inspiring women throughout the industry. I hope the upcoming generations too, can be inspired to pursue a career in STEM, and I know I have a role to play in fostering that next cohort.”
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Breaking the mold
Initially, Emily struggled to identify her technical strengths in the cyber field. She says she didn’t excel in ‘technical’ capabilities, but rather met them with frustration. Inspired by the wonderful women around her, Emily says she began to understand that technical capability isn’t all about the technology in its purest sense, but rather about engaging your specialist skills or knowledge in the work you do.
This approach and the very human, creative, curious, and interpersonal skills, which Emily has in abundance, have underpinned her success. “A degree in cyber security is the embodiment of our world where resources are designed and run by men for men,” Emily says. “A cyber security degree aligns to and celebrates largely male characteristics and stereotypical abilities. It glorifies technical capability and disregards the need for soft skills and diversity of thought. I’m proud to be part of the changing face of the IT industry, and proving you can achieve your goals,” she says.
She has since written articles in the Australian Cyber Security Magazine, highlighting issues surrounding the lack of women in STEM and the importance and role of diversity in teaching methods and diverse human-focused content. Emily has also put her expertise into developing and hosting training workshops in cyber to engage the next generation. Emily continues to speak truth to power by raising shortfalls and challenges with training institutions regarding cyber degrees and learning, including her experience of the lack of emphasis on soft skills needed in the industry. “It’s about ensuring the next generation is fully supported to go into the field and take flight.”
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Preparing for the field
Before entering the industry, Emily completed a work-integrated learning program as the final part of her degree. She was teamed with a fellow student to run a project from initiation to completion, integrating a threat intelligence platform that would help identify incoming risks. Emily says she really hit her stride through this project. Her abilities in gathering, project planning, solution analysis and relationship management saw her lead the initiative, engaging confidently with senior stakeholders and using her skills to axe tech talk and jargon to hold conversations with non-technical stakeholders.
It was an opportunity to prove her point about the range of skills required to be a tech professional and the need for diversity in IT, she says. Her work impacted the way those involved defined technical skills and what is really required of cyber security professionals. The project, Emily says, was also enhanced by a more holistic development approach.
Through volunteer and professional initiatives, Emily continues to champion both women in the STEM industry and the next generation looking to join. Emily’s volunteer leadership initiatives include but are not limited to;
- Volunteering for P-Tech, where Emily assists in the education and engagement of high school students into STEM careers through the writing and grading of cyber security assignments and providing support and expert guidance
- Speaking at multiple STEM events, including as a panellist for the diversity in cyber security panel at the recent South Metro TAFE Cyber Security Fair.
- Volunteering as a diversity champion within Kinetic IT, including active engagement in initiatives such as Women in IT events.
- Volunteering for The Smith Family as a mentor to teachers engaging their students in STEM activities, opportunities, and career pathways
- Being an advocate for women in the greater Perth technology community, including participation in events championing diversity.
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Sage advice from Emily
“My biggest learning curve is one that I am still experiencing. Being new to the industry, I am still learning a lot about both general business and my role,” she says. “My advice would be to navigate your work/life balance and set boundaries that see you excelling in your career while not burning out.”
“I’d also say go for it and stick it out for a while. The STEM field is a big adjustment and one that needs to be committed to. You might jump in and love it straight away, or it may take some getting used to, but in the end, I guarantee you will get something out of it – whether that be a career in STEM or the decision that it just isn’t for you – you will have learnt something along the way and have some great transferable skills.”
WiTWA Tech [+] Awards
People’s Choice is now open! Cast your vote and support the amazing women making a difference in the ICT community. Register your vote here.
Head to the WiTWA website for more information on the WiTWA Tech [+] Awards or to see the stories of this year’s nominees.
You can also find more stories about women in tech at Kinetic IT on our website.