Tech.Ed 2010: IT experts are really brilliant interpreters

The notion of the IT “expert” has been rendered nonexistent with the “plethora” of online possibilities now available in the IT industry, according to chief executive and founder of Geek IT, Mary Henderson.

Speaking at the Women in IT event, held at Tech.Ed on the Gold Coast, Henderson described the term ‘expert’ as being no longer someone with a specific knowledge in a specific niche, but instead, “a brilliant interpreter”.

“An expert is not somebody being a great programmer, being brilliant in the digital space, an expert is a brilliant interpreter… and that is what we as women do so well, we’re brilliant interpreters and I think in our industry more and more that will be required.

“I’m not saying that men can’t do that… what I’m saying is that the expert has shifted from knowledge based into really trying to extract information, gather information and most importantly interpret information,” Henderson said. Henderson described marketing departments for IT companies as “lost in translation”, and called upon them to collaborate with IT departments to deal with IT issues moving forward.

“There is no doubt in my mind… the extension of the teams will require expertise not only in networking and programming but in the whole digital spectrum as a totality, she said."It requires a level of expertise, a level of understanding and most importantly it requires a level of passion.”

This year’s Women in IT event was again about empowering and encouraging women in IT, who, not surprisingly, account for only 3.7 per cent of delegates of the approximate 2700 attendees at Tech.Ed 2010.

Commenting on why IT remained a male dominated industry, Henderson stressed the importance of educating younger people and giving them the opportunity to understand the industry the full range of potential jobs.

She also highlighted her own personal challenges as a female in IT and the struggles the gender feels as a result of the inequality.

“Being a female running an IT company and a software company has been somewhat difficult, challenging and confronting, but you know what, it’s been fantastic along the way.

“The challenge I think for a woman… we try so hard sometimes to actually be the masculine person and we can’t help it, it’s very difficult to step away from that, I’ve tried really hard to be aware of maintaining my femininity and also being true to myself. I don’t feel like I have to act like a man to be accepted,” she said.

This year’s Women in IT event also saw the presentation of its Women in IT Community Contributor of the year Award, won by Raina Mason from Southern Cross University for “pushing the concept that IT is an industry for people regardless of gender” and for her efforts toward growing the number of women studying IT at SCU (16 per cent) beyond “the norm” for Australian universities.

Chloe Herrick travelled to Tech.Ed as a guest of Microsoft

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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