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Episode Seven: Women in STEM, the Girls’ Programming Network and Unconscious Bias


WORK180Mar 30, 2020

Renee Noble is the executive director of the Girls’ Programming Network, a software engineer at EdTech company Grok Learning, and was recently named in the Australia Financial Review’s 100 Women of Influence. Having had no exposure to programming until stumbling across it while studying at Sydney University, she was quick to add a Computer Science major to her Chemical Engineering and Chemistry pursuits.

Given her late introduction to tech, Renee is passionate about making coding education exciting and accessible to everyone. She strives to create scalable content and methods for including girls, women and people from other under-represented gender groups. In her time at the helm of Girls’ Programming Network, Renee has taken what was a small, single-site operation to providing 500 girls per quarter with free programming workshops. Having already spread the program to 6 cities across Australia, more cities are lining up to join the GPN community.

In this conversation we discuss:

  • Finding technology and coding late and adding computer science to her degree.
  • Non-technical skills you need in industry.
  • How the girls programming network supports women in tech.
  • Expanding the GPN across the country to 6 locations, 2000 enrollments a year.
  • When Renee understood the power of computing and excited about what technology can do.
  • The 'glue work' of software engineering, understanding how things connect and are well-managed.
  • Imposter syndrome, and how we have to know something before we start to worry about not knowing enough.
  • Asking questions and being comfortable not knowing things in order to learn.
  • The teamwork involved in programming that people don't expect.
  • How the girls programming network operates; a volunteer program for high school kids teaching them coding to create a 'project-in-a-day'
  • That STEM applications are about helping people, not sitting alone in a room coding.
  • Our preconceived ideas about what STEM roles are, and the fact they are often about strategic ideas and solutions.
  • We need all types and kinds of people in STEM so solutions meet the diverse needs of all people.
  • How seeing things from someone else's views helps increase empathy.
  • How to reduce unconscious bias in our decision making.
  • Examples of removing unconscious bias from previously biased application processes.
  • Volunteering to build your skills, confidence and network.
  • Recognising your worth through experience, skills and personality.

Love this Podcast so much that you can't wait to listen to another? Check out Episode Eight: Managing your mental health at work

To make sure you don’t miss future episodes of Equality Talks, subscribe on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts!

Podcast Transcript Episode 7.pdf


About the author

WORK180

WORK180 is an international jobs network that connects smart businesses with talented women. We pre-screen every employer on our jobs board to see where they stand on pay equity, flexible working, paid parental leave, equal opportunities and a range of other criteria. We also take into account diversity initiatives focusing on age, ability, ethnicity and sexual orientation.

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