Telum Vox Pop: International Women's Day 2023
Interview

Telum Vox Pop: International Women's Day 2023

By Kristy Nguyen

This year's theme for International Women's Day is DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality, highlighting the importance of technological change and advancement as well as digital education for women around the world.

To mark the event, Telum spoke to industry leaders, editors and journalists in Australia and New Zealand about media coverage of women in STEM and how they hope to see the workforce improve in the future.

Veronika Meduna, NZ Editor: Science, Health + Environment at The Conversation (New Zealand)
Women continue to be underrepresented in STEM, particularly in leadership roles, but recent changes are helping shift the narrative in the form of stories about brilliant engineers, scientists and mathematicians whose contributions historians had so far chosen to overlook.

Public acclaim sidestepped most of these women during much of their lifetimes (think Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin who first described what stars are made of) but the delayed recognition nevertheless grants them a chance to act as trailblazing role models across generations. Their stories reiterate that women were never absent, but rather made invisible by omission.

Any effort to adjust the gender imbalance in STEM has to be deliberate. For storytellers in any medium, this means proactively seeking out women to interview or profile, even if they don’t put themselves forward in the same way some of their male colleagues might. It also means keeping a tally aiming for equal representation of voices or perhaps even allowing a slight overrepresentation to counter the history of bias and exclusion.

Karissa Breen, Co-Founder / Head of Cyber Security Journalism at KBI.Media (Australia)
Technology and cybersecurity have predominantly been male fields and still are today. I do believe the tide is gradually changing but like most tides, there are ebbs and flows.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised that over time the prominence of cybersecurity as a legitimate career is increasing. Part of my role with KBI.Media is to develop not only awareness about cybersecurity issues pertinent to the industry and the broader community, but to encourage others to work in the field. 

Having more relatable figures in the cyber industry is of paramount importance to driving more women to take up these careers in earnest. The more media attention cybersecurity gets, the more women will pay attention to the field, and the journey towards a more diverse range of opinions and perspectives within the industry continues.

Athina Mallis, Editor at Digital Nation (Australia)
Over the years, I have seen such an improvement in the coverage of women and non-binary people in STEM. Publications are going out of their way to find these voices and put them in the spotlight for the wonderful and awe-inspiring work they do.

I have seen articles evolve from "this is a woman in this male-dominated industry" to "this leader is a woman and she makes important decisions in her industry" but this is just the beginning. To continue writing about women and non-binary people in STEM, it starts with decision-makers in organisations keeping up their DE&I efforts to ensure these people have an opportunity in their industry and a moment to have their voices heard.

Claudia Muldrew, Associate Editor at Reseller News (New Zealand)
In STEM, particularly technology, there are a growing number of women who hold senior leadership roles at major companies and act as the spokesperson to front news coverage. However, the vast majority of spokespeople in the industry are male, meaning that it’s imperative to take a purposeful approach to feature more women.

There is also a noticeable lack of coverage of female Māori and Pasifika leaders and innovators. It sounds obvious, but it’s easy to get caught up in the daily news cycle. Media holds a crucial role in diversifying the perspectives offered and empowering more women to proudly share their stories.

Achievements of women in this arena often float by quietly. I stumble upon many inspiring stories by accident through passing comments at events or buried deep into LinkedIn feeds. It’s crucial for me to always work towards seeking out and uncovering the stories of female-led innovation to inspire more women into STEM and grow the pipeline of female talent. Representation of women in STEM, alongside growing the female workforce, is a corresponding cycle that can only improve.

Edwina Stott, Co-Host at Decoding Crypto (Australia)
We live in a disruptive time - systems that have operated in the same way for hundreds of years are being torn apart, re-imagined and reinvented. This provides an incredible opportunity for change, but only if everyone has a seat at the table.

Cryptocurrency, for example, is promising to transform our financial systems through blockchain technology creating a new way of doing things that empowers people to have more control and financial freedom than ever before. If the space continues to be male-dominated, we risk re-inventing a system that is once again driven by middle class, white men. We’ll likely come up with the same solutions to problems we’ve been facing for hundreds of years if the same people are sitting at the table.

Diversity is an essential ingredient to innovation. STEM needs people from all genders and walks of life to bring their unique perspectives and problem-solving skills to the table. We’re making progress, but we’re a long way from where we need to be.

Emma Morris, Senior Producer / Journalist at ABC Science (Australia)
Women in STEM and innovation, especially those with children, face particular challenges when trying to push the boundaries at work. How do you dream up big ideas when you’re struggling to find space and time? How do we not get left behind without compromising on time with our families?

Creating genuine inclusivity takes time, respect and flexibility. Women with children have a unique perspective in STEM and innovation that is worth investing in. As a working parent of two kids under five, I know firsthand how hard it is to show up to morning meetings when you’ve had no sleep for two days straight or find the right words to express your ideas. Workplaces need to look at better solutions to retain women in meaningful roles that set them up to succeed regardless of how many days they can work.

Here are some ideas to help ease the tension of work and parenting:
  • Encourage partners to share family commitments
  • Develop meaningful part-time job descriptions and clear boundaries
  • Return to work mentors with real-world experience
  • Respect of skills and career aspirations
  • Equal opportunities without judgement on parenting choices
  • Practical solutions such as job sharing, mental health services, staggered hours and training

More stories


Telum Media

Database

Journalists
Edwina Stott

Producer / Presenter

Emma Morris

Senior Producer / Journalist

Veronika Meduna

NZ Editor: Science, Health + Environment

Athina Mallis

Managing Editor

Karissa Breen

Co-Founder / Head of Cyber Security Journalism

Claudia Muldrew

Media
Telum Media

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