As a husband and a father of three girls I understand the overwhelming responsibility we have to encourage young people into STEM education. We need them to not only have an interest in technology but be passionate about it. It’s that passion that will drive them through their education and then further into great technology companies. This is where they will have the power and tools to make real changes. Xero’s success has come down solely to the people, we give them the tools, but they create the change.
I understand that if we’re judging straight off stereotypes it would seem easy for me. As a privileged white male, I could easily say lets encourage kids and girls especially into technology and then not do a lot to backup that statement. However my wife was actively encouraged away from technology and I want to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen to my three daughters. They are my motive to make STEM education classes mainstream among all schools throughout New Zealand.
Diversity is vital
If you look at all the global statistics around workplace culture and success, diversity plays a key factor. Not just in terms of ethnicity, but also gender, age, sexual orientation etc. I believe that having a diverse team is vital in order to have a global lense. A room full of similar people with like minded ideas and views is never going to achieve the same as a room made up different backgrounds and beliefs.
However diversity is not something that we can force under any circumstances and nor should we. Which is why I think it’s important that kiwi kids gain exposure to STEM education from as early as possible. Not only does taking these subjects stimulate young minds but it nurtures passions that may otherwise be neglected.
When my wife was looking at her tertiary options she was interested in technology. She’d had an older brother who had encouraged her in that direction. However unfortunately for her, both the school and university career advisors were not as open minded. Both managed to convince her that technology was not an option and that instead she should study teaching. Teaching is an amazing profession and our education system would be nothing without all it’s hard working, dedicated teachers. However, I think it’s a real shame that career advisors persuaded a female away from a traditionally male dominated sector into a traditionally female dominated one.
STEM classes could empower kiwi kids
This leads me to wonder how we can fill the almost tangible gap within our education system. This system sees so many kids missing out on opportunities in technology due to lack of exposure or misinformation. As the director of the New Zealand wing of a successful technology company, I think it’s most definitely my own responsibility to help raise the profile of technology. Something that should have been done many years ago, in the time of the dot com era, but unfortunately wasn’t. It’s important for kids who enjoy the STEM education classes to know that you can have an amazing career in technology no matter where you come from! You’ve just got to have a bit of a passion and drive, the rest will come!