ICTNZ WITless when it comes to women

Umbrella organisation forgets to invite the girls along

The proposed ICTNZ alliance, a new umbrella organisation for New Zealand’s ICT sector, seems to have forgotten to include one of the major IT lobby groups in the industry, Women in Technology.

Despite having one of the largest membership bases among IT organisations in New Zealand, WIT has not been asked to join ICTNZ.

“We have spoken to several of the interested parties about WIT’s involvement, but they don’t seem to be … including us,” says Cheryl Horo, general manager of WIT.

“We have certainly indicated that we are interested in discussions about our involvement, but the door seems to be closed. There hasn’t been an invitation extended to be involved in any of the conversations about what is happening.”

“We are getting the impression we are being excluded and we don’t know why we haven’t been asked for our input,” she says.

On the government’s Digital Strategy website it says that “representatives from key industry players … have formed the nucleus for the new organisation”, but WIT is not listed among these organisations.

“We have indicated to so many different people that we want to be involved,” says Carol Lee Andersen, founder and director of WIT.

“The guys would get together and have little meetings and we weren’t invited to any of them.”

“This reminds me why WIT exists,” she says. “They say they want to pull everyone together [under the umbrella of ICTNZ]. If that is the case, why are they leaving out half the population?”

Chip Dawson, president of the New Zealand Software Alliance, is overseas, so could not be reached for comment. However, he sent a text message saying: “ICTNZ is in discussions with WIT now. We have initial support from Carol Lee [Andersen]. We will continue to support WIT.”

After being approached by Computerworld, Dawson called Andersen to confirm that the Software Alliance values its relationship with WIT. But according to Andersen, WIT is not in discussions with ICTNZ and, at this stage, she is not sure if WIT wants to be involved.

“Somebody would really have to very clearly articulate the value of being involved,” she says.

“If we have not been involved, and had a voice on the board so far, why would we turn over something that is successful and delivering so much to go be part of another big boys’ club?”

“I think Chip is a fabulous fan, though,” she says. “And, if anyone would like to give us a call, we are certainly available to have discussions [about ICTNZ]”.

Microsoft’s outgoing MD, Ross Peat, ITANZ’s vice president, says that as far as he is aware there had not been any intention to exclude WIT.

“From my perspective, the door is wide open to any ICT related groups. The notion behind ICTNZ is that it should be able to embrace and embed many special interest groups, and I think WIT would be most welcome to join the organisation.”

Benefits for individuals that join ICTNZ include a variety of professional development training opportunities and certifications that will be offered through member organisations, says Peat. For organisations, the benefit is a stronger voice that can lobby on behalf of ICT in New Zealand, he says.

“I also see a very positive response coming back from government circles. They want a better resourced, better articulated vision for ICT coming from the industry, so that [the government institutions] can take that onboard as they look at their policies for driving ICT at the governmental level,” he says.

Peat also sees benefits in the diverse networking opportunity an organisation like ICTNZ will provide.

“My vision for [ICTNZ] 12-15 months down the track is that there are going to be people from all callings within the ICT industry … and that will be a great opportunity for people to interact and talk together.”

Organisations wishing to join ICTNZ need to be participants in the ICT industry and need to meet certain financial requirements. Beyond these criteria, any IT industry organisation is welcome to join ICTNZ, he says.

There is an ICTNZ board meeting in mid-August and by that stage ITANZ’s transition into ICTNZ should be finished, assuming all goes according to plan, says Peat.

Doug White, CEO of the New Zealand Computer Society, is also travelling overseas, and could also not be reached for comment.

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