Australia, 28 October 2015: The ACS – the professional association for Australia’s ICT sector – has welcomed the Labor Party’s plan for a $4.5 million grants program to support organisations that promote, encourage and inspire girls to learn code, which was announced today.
ACS President, Brenda Aynsley OAM, said Labor’s grants of up to $150,000 would make a significant contribution to encouraging more young girls to study computer science and other technology based courses.
“Organisations like Code Club Australia, Code Like a Girl, Robogals, Code Camp, Tech Girls Movement and CoderDojo do great work. It’s wonderful to see the Labor Party recognise and support their efforts so that they can scale up their activities across the country and boost girls’ participation in technology.
“All the research suggests that by the time girls reach 15 many of them have either dismissed or not even considered the option of a career in ICT. One of the key reasons is the lack of opportunity to engage in computing science, either through the curriculum or through extra curricula activities. Feedback from groups such as Code Club and others suggests that once girls are given the opportunity to do coding they generally have a strong aptitude for it and excel.
“Australia has a chronic shortage of women graduating with computer science or coding skills. In fact, since 2001, the rate of women enrolling in an IT degree has fallen from about one in four to just one in ten. By 2020, Australia will need an extra 100,000 workers if it is to keep pace with rising demand for ICT skills. Only 28% of the IT workforce is comprised of women So it is essential on both skills grounds and from the diversity argument that the participation of women in ICT is increased.
“Therefore, it’s critical to capture the interest of girls as early as possible, by teaching coding and computational thinking in every primary and secondary school in Australia.
“A very important, even vital aspect of this latest Labor policy is to upskill 25,000 Australian teachers to ensure they are well versed in the latest ICT teaching techniques. This is strongly supported by ACS and has been for many years. Having inspiring ICT teachers educating our future generations will help our young people, and particularly our young women, see the exciting opportunities that exist for ICT professionals in every sector of the economy.
“Without a significant increase in the number of women studying ICT and technology based courses, Australia runs the risk that it will not have the skills base to fully capture the significant opportunities and benefits being created by digital technologies.
About the ACS
The ACS (Australian Computer Society) is the professional association for Australia’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector. Over 20,000 ACS members work in business, education, government and the community. The ACS exists to create the environment and provide the opportunities for members and partners to succeed. The ACS strives for ICT professionals to be recognised as drivers of innovation in our society, relevant across all sectors, and to promote the formulation of effective policies on ICT and related matters. Visit www.acs.org.au for more information.
 Australia’s Digital Pulse, Deloitte Access Economics and the ACS, 2015