Meet Dr Jenine Beekhuyzen, founder of the Not-for-Profit organisation Tech Girls Movement which encourages and promotes positive role models to raise awareness of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) careers for girls.
Jenine’s a social entrepreneur and academic whose advocacy for women in STEM is based on more than a decade of internationally peer-reviewed research.
As one of Advance Queensland’s Digital Champions, Jenine was named by the Sydney Morning Herald as a female rising star in ICT. In 2014 she was awarded the winner of the Australian Information Industries Association (AIIA) Award for Queensland ICT Woman of the Year, and a 2016 Women of Influence.
Jenine points out that Australia is losing billions of dollars a year in the technology industry by not having the workforce needed to build the technology of the future; and we’re already 10 to 15 years behind in fixing this problem.
“Advancing girls has got to be our focus. Diversity is as important to technology as it is in representation of a company. We know that organisations and teams perform better when diversity is actively introduced and maintained. Australians are using technology every day, so having a diverse range of people around the table is important to the future of technology”.
Jenine has always loved a challenge. In the outside world there continued an unconscious bias with women expected to stay at home with the children and men expected to work and bring home the money. But for Jenine, a self-confessed stubborn and innately curious girl who was fascinated by technology, long days were spent re-imaging a world where things were done differently.
“Imagining the world as a different place was sparked by my father’s passing. Growing up in a female dominated household, tasks still needed to be done no matter who wore the pants”.
How we talk about ourselves and our lives is important; and giving girls the ability to find their own way will build confidence in their ability to hold their own.
“Confidence is definitely the key to success. Growing up in a lower socioeconomic environment people just didn’t expect you to end up with a degree let alone a PhD but I always wanted to push myself. But that’s just the beginning. We need to surround ourselves with like-minded people who will push us forward when we need it the most”.
Jenine is the Asia-Pacific representative for the Association for Information Systems-National Center for Women in Technology (US) and the United Nations PRME Coordinator of the global repository on gender and technology.
With networks extending across Europe, the United States and Asia and collaborations with Deakin University, QUT, the University of Muenster, Germany and the University of Liechtenstein, Jenine is well-placed to leading change for our next generation of female leaders.
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