Event · 6 November 2021

WiTWA Tech[+] Conference stage with flowers in the foreground

WiTWA Tech[+] Conference

What an inspiring day of keynotes and panels from leading women in the Australian technology space!

Last month I was lucky enough to attend the WiTWA Tech[+] conference at the Perth Conference and Exhibition Centre as a volunteer. It was my first time attending and I was blown away by the quality and professionalism of the event considering it is organised and run entirely by volunteers who all have full-time jobs outside WiTWA.

My role for the day was to join the AV team and take charge of the slide deck ensuring the correct information was displayed at all times. This meant I was able to listen in and learn from all the inspiring speakers throughout the day, so I thought I’d write a quick summary of what I picked up.

Session 1: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI)

Keynote: Shelly Cable

Shelly kicked things off with a challenge to WiTWA’s motto if you can see her, you can be her, asking “but what if you can’t?” In her inspiring keynote, Shelly explained that we are all firsts, building on the efforts of our ancestors and standing on their shoulders to achieve more. You could feel the energy in the room grow as she shared the story of her family and the challenges faced by Aboriginal communities.

The key takeaway from this inspiring monologue for me was if you can’t see her, look in the mirror – it’s you. This resonated with me as the only girl in my high school cohort to study technical drawing and computing (programming). Even as I established my career as a Front-End Developer, I didn’t have a role model or a mentor, I just had to figure it out as I went. We should all be proud of what we’ve achieved so far.

Session 2: Digital transformation and disruption

Keynote: Dr Catherine Ball

Catherine joined us virtually from Queensland with a passionate keynote that explored the world of digital transformation and disruption. The key takeaway from this session for me was that if you’re treating digital as something separate from the rest of your business, you’re doing it wrong. Digital is a part of everything we do, and businesses and organisations need to shift their focus to consider this.

Session 3: How will women shape the future of tech?

Keynote: Sonja Bernhardt

Sonja gave the room a lively rundown of the history of women in technology, and I think I can say many were surprised to hear that traditionally programming was considered “women’s work”. It wasn’t until the 1980s that there was a concerted effort to dissuade women from pursuing careers in technology by framing tech as something for boys. It was also interesting to see just how many women were behind some of the world’s biggest technological breakthroughs.

Session 4: IQ, EQ and adversity quotient

Dr Katherine Iscoe and Sharon Wood-Kenney

For the final session of the day, the focus shifted to wellbeing. The energy in the room was high as both presenters held the room’s attention with their very different approaches to wellbeing. Dr Iscoe showed us all that if we want to try something new we have to be prepared to fail first, and not just once while Sharon Wood-Kenney brought the day to a close with a fantastic session of reflection and relaxation. She introduced us to the power of the Western Australian Peppermint leaf which is widely used in Aboriginal medicine and has a claiming effect as the scent is released.

Both women connected with the audience and brought the day to a satisfying close. I can’t wait to see what the team puts together for next year, and if you haven’t attended the WiTWA conference yet, I recommend you definitely get yourself a ticket for 2022.