IWD 2023: Celebrating women in technology
UN Women Australia’s International Women’s Day theme for 2023 is ‘Cracking the Code: Innovation for a gender-equal future’.
Based on the priority theme for the United Nations 67th Commission on the Status of Women – Cracking the Code highlights the role that bold, transformative ideas, inclusive technologies, and accessible education can play in combatting discrimination and the marginalisation of women globally.
Here at Working Parents Connect, we’re proud to work with a number of clients who support equality in the workplace, and the technology space is no different! So in the spirit of IWD 2023, we spoke to a previously placed job seeker in the hope her story inspires other women to consider a career in technology.
Meet Kara Jaffe, Product Manager at iPRO Software.
Thanks for speaking with us Kara! Can you tell us a little about what you do, and what drew you to a career in tech?
Thanks for having me! In addition to being a wife and mum to my two beautiful kids and one fur-baby, I am iPRO Software’s Product Manager, responsible for identifying and prioritising customer needs, wants and objectives which are distilled into requirements for our talented Product Team to bring to life, in the form of a high-quality product. I work closely with internal and external stakeholders to ensure our company roadmap, revenue and customer satisfaction goals are met.
Tech has fascinated me ever since I can remember. My secondary school years (a lifetime ago now!) introduced me to many different tech elements including coding, touch-typing, building computers and the internet (some more exciting than others!)
In Year 10, I had the opportunity to add a Vocational Education and Training course to my V.C.E. I remember making a conscious decision to ‘future-proof’ my decision as best I could, which saw me opt for the Information Technology certificate.
Fast-forward to the end of Year 12 and I was unsure of what I wanted to pursue, so I began working in an administrative role as a casual at a major public hospital in Melbourne. Shortly after, my manager nominated me to join am I.T project group to implement a new hospital-wide patient administration system.
It was my first big assignment that involved late nights, early mornings, fast learning, and lots of hard work but knowing that the result would streamline the jobs of hospital staff and ultimately benefit patients was a very satisfying feeling.
I learned that I love working with cross-functional teams, exploring innovative ways to solve customer problems, delivering high-quality products that empower people to build better businesses and that make a difference. It’s been a passion for over 20 years.
Tech isn’t just about the hardware and software, in my journey I have met many people, all with different levels of tech literacy, but always with valuable insights and opinions to share. It taught me the value of diversity very early on and is something that remains front of mind every day.
Have you experienced any difficulties in this field of work at any point?
I was fortunate that one of my first managers who is kind, intelligent and driven became a professional role model for me. Having positive role models in all stages of your career is vital because we always have something to learn, and perhaps one day, we can be that role model for someone else. My manager helped me to learn the difference between a workplace that encourages its employees to fulfil their potential and those that do not. Armed with that knowledge, later in my career, I decided to step away from a tech employer when they could not support any degree of flexible working arrangements as a working parent. It impacted me personally due to loss of wages and professionally my confidence took a hit, because I was acutely aware of how fast things move in the tech space, so taking additional time out following my maternity leave, made me very nervous.
But as the saying goes, where one door closes, another one opens and it led me to where I am now, at iPRO Software, building amazing products with exceptional people.
Tell us about your current role with iPRO – have you worked on any exciting projects you can share with us?
As the Product Manager at iPRO Software, I’m fortunate to work with a dedicated bunch of humans who have been working incredibly hard on our new ESG offering, a Modern Slavery Assessment that highlights modern slavery risks in supply chains and empowers businesses to take positive action by responding to reporting criteria set by the Australian Government.
I have loved working on this project because it has given me the opportunity to work with different stakeholders, learn about Modern Slavery and develop a solution that empowers businesses to be better global citizens, all while supporting iPRO Software’s business strategy and goals.
What does IWD mean to you this year with a spotlight on technology and gender equality and empowerment of women and young girls?
Technology is about solving complex problems in innovative ways, and every aspect of our lives depends on technology in some way.
Innovations from a team that includes at least one woman are proven to be more economically valuable and have a higher impact than those with only men involved, yet globally, women hold only 2 in every 10 science, engineering and information and communication technology jobs.
International Women’s Day is an opportunity to highlight the need to provide improved access to education, opportunities, pathways, and investment for women to innovate and transform our world for the better.
It is also an opportunity for tech business leaders to recognise the value in diversity and that by creating genuinely inclusive workplaces we can all contribute to closing the digital gender gap and empower women and young girls to have fulfilling tech careers.
What message do you have for aspiring women or young girls looking for a career in tech?
Go for it!
Be sure to define and develop your professional values; they will guide your behaviour, decision-making, and skill development (both power skills and tech skills) and good employers will hold this in high regard, making you a valuable employee.
Pursue opportunities that align with your values whilst remembering those opportunities that cannot accommodate your values are not opportunities.
Find a mentor and embrace continual learning.
Be courageous, ask lots of questions, never be afraid to voice your ideas and have FUN, you never know where it might lead!
We’re so appreciative of you taking the time to talk to us, Kara. Thank you for your time and words of encouragement.
If you’re in the market for a new role in technology or science, check out our jobs board for current available roles and sign up for job alerts delivered straight to your inbox.