IT: It’s not just for the boys!

aimee_forsstrom_web.jpgWhen ‘Women in Technology’ award-winner Aimee Forsstrom compares her life to the life of friends with whom she went to school, she knows without a doubt that getting a university education has made a world of difference.

“I can see a very bright future ahead, with the opportunity of getting a well-paid, fulfilling job, being able to travel and making my own decisions in life,” said Aimee, who has just won the Southern Cross University Women in Technology Award for high academic achievement.

“I look at where I am today and I am so very glad that I chose to get a decent education because it has opened up my life in such incredible ways.”

Information Technology and Telecommunications (IT&T) continues to be the major growing force in Australia, challenging trades and services for the number one spot as the biggest advertiser of jobs online, according to the most recent Olivier Internet Job Index.

Aimee, from Ocean Shores, grew up in Sydney’s Western suburbs, leaving school in Year 10, before relocating to the Northern Rivers to study website development at Wollongbar TAFE.

“I was always interested in computers and the internet, so information technology seemed a natural choice. People still think that you need to be brilliant at maths to do anything with IT but that is not really the case. The field is just so wide and there are so many different career pathways you can choose from,” Aimee said.

“I learned that I could get advanced standing at Southern Cross University in the Bachelor of Applied Computing for all my previous TAFE study here and in Sydney, so I applied and was accepted. That just blew me away. I never, ever thought I would be good enough to get into university or that I could do well at that level of study.”

But Aimee surprised herself and exceeded all expectations by earning the highest grade point average of all students in her cohort last year and winning not just the Women in Technology award but also the coveted $5000 Honours scholarship from the School of Commerce and Management, which was presented to her this week by Dr Steve Kelly, head of the School of Commerce and Management.

Raina Mason, who coordinates the School of Commerce and Management’s Women in Technology program, which offers support to female students and a number of awards to promising students, said there were a disproportionate number of males studying information technology courses.

“Computing has been seen as a male occupation in the past, and we want the message to get out there to women that this is not the case,” Raina said.

“Women still tend to think of IT as an area where your job ties you to the computer all day and you don’t have much opportunity to interact and socialise with others but this is just not the reality anymore. The career prospects are many and varied and require a lot of human interaction.”

On the positive side for female job-seekers, demand for IT&T skills is increasing, and so are salaries.

The Olivier Internet Job Index, which reports figures for the industry sector, claims that in the past 12 months demand for IT&T workers has shot up 61.18 percent, surpassing Accounting, Engineering and Mining, and Sales and Marketing. The web boom is being driven by revenue based content creation, with graphic designers in most demand followed by web developers.

PICTURE: Aimee Forsstrom (centre) with Dr Steve Kelly, head of the School of Commerce and Management and Women in Technology program coordinator Raina Mason.

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