The Dream Collective, a global diversity, equity, and inclusion consultancy, in collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS), has today launched SheDares in New Zealand. SheDares is a free, online, interactive learning program, which aims to inspire professional women to consider pursuing a career in the technology industry, and show them the pathways to entry.
The Dream Collective conducted focus groups in New Zealand to understand barriers to women considering a role in the technology industry. The research showed these include the perception of a steep learning curve, not knowing where to start in terms of exploring tech career pathways, and a lack of visible female role models. Many women believe a role in tech requires deep technical knowledge and skills, that tech is not synonymous with human interaction, and that the industry’s rapid speed of change makes it an uncertain career choice.
The SheDares curriculum was designed to help women overcome these barriers. The free program features four online 45-minute self-paced modules focused on expanding perspectives, understanding transferable skills, and equipping participants with pathways to build skills and find job opportunities. Modules include practical advice for breaking into the technology industry, worksheets to apply new learnings, a career skills quiz, and fireside chats with women sharing advice about how they successfully transitioned into tech.
Sarah Liu, Founder and Managing Director of The Dream Collective, said, “According to the Harvard Business Review, women place higher barriers on themselves during the job application process. SheDares was created to equip women, especially those from a non-tech background who wouldn’t ordinarily consider a role in tech, to pivot into this high-growth sector. If you love working with people, if you are creative, and if you want to help solve the world’s biggest problems, then the tech industry is an ideal environment for you, and I encourage you to consider the opportunities the sector presents. As the fight for top talent grows, companies right now are investing heavily in talent and culture. There has never been a better time to consider a pivot into tech.”
Maliha Gangat, a Business Analyst at the University of Canterbury, recently completed the SheDares program. She says “I appreciate this growing community of supportive women from different age groups and professional backgrounds coming together to uplift each other. The program gave me the confidence to meet and reach out to different women in tech, learn from their experiences, and share my stories and experiences. The quizzes helped me confirm that I can be a good communicator and leader, and I should take up more challenges that require those skills – pushing myself out of my comfort zone.”
Findings from a new research report, titled Digital Skills Aotearoa: Digital Skills for our Digital Future, commissioned by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) with NZTech, show that New Zealand requires 4,000-5,000 new digital technology professionals each year. Only 27% of the IT workforce in New Zealand are women. The research reveals more needs to be done to address the low levels of diversity in the digital skills pipeline in order to grow and diversify the local talent pool.
Haren Samarasekera, head of small and medium business for Amazon Web Services in New Zealand, said, “There is a major tech skills shortage in New Zealand at the moment, and AWS is helping to address this by providing a range of training programs that feed talent into the local workforce. Through SheDares, we hope to foster a more diverse, inclusive, accessible, and equitable industry. We believe diversity is a critical driver of innovation, customer service, creativity, and business growth. By encouraging women to consider a career in tech through the SheDares program, we aim to help increase diversity in New Zealand’s digital workforces, address the digital skills gap, and build resilience in our economies.”
After completing the modules, participants can access three practical pathways, designed by AWS, to help them prepare for a new career in tech.
The Build Skills pathway – for women who are interested in a career in the tech industry, and want to get started by building knowledge to help enter the industry. The pathway provides practical recommendations for deeper learning. This includes cloud training courses designed by AWS experts to build cloud skills and help prepare for AWS Certification exams, which demonstrate cloud expertise to colleagues and potential employers.
The Ready to Pivot pathway – designed for women who are excited by the tech industry and looking for the right opportunity. This pathway provides information and links to job opportunities at Amazon and with our customers and partners. The path also includes information about targeted job placement programs, including AWS re/Start for unemployed or underemployed individuals, and AWS Tech U, an accelerated workforce development program.
The Explore a Little More pathway – directs participants to upcoming events that may interest them, such as an AWS workshop on innovation, hiring webinars with tips and tricks on how to interview for a role in the tech industry, and an AWS Cloud Essentials webinar to learn fundamental concepts of cloud computing and how it helps unlock business value. The Dream Collective and AWS will supplement the self-paced training with live panel events held throughout the year. These panels give women the opportunity to engage in live conversations with senior technology leaders who have pivoted their careers, including speakers from both AWS and industry partners.