Quick – what’s Oculus Rift?! No, it’s not a charm from Harry Potter.

Oculus Rift is a virtual reality headset (thanks Google!) and along with artificial intelligence, connected homes, 3D printing, crypto-currencies, mobile payments, wearables, genomics, Internet of Things, robotics and drones, will be part of the future wave of digital disruption1.

Every industry is being shaped by these technologies, and more so than any before them, the tech-empowered generation entering the workforce today are able to choose any career direction. It’s a good time to be getting into digital disruption, especially noting the contribution of digital technologies to the Australian economy is forecast to grow from $79 billion in 2014 to $139 billion in 2020. This represents growth of more than 75% and an increase in the digital economy from 5% to 7% of Australia’s GDP1.

But what does this actually mean? It means that the ICT industry is growing fast. Australia’s ICT workforce is expected to increase to around 695,000 ICT workers by 2020, from around 628,000 in 20151. Yet despite this growing demand, the number of graduates with ICT qualifications has declined significantly since the early 2000s. Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) graduates are also in high demand in Australian workplaces but there is concern around the current lack of STEM participation in schools and the future supply of adequate STEM skills2.

This also means there is opportunity. It means those with ICT or STEM skills having the pick of the jobs, being able to shape these industries and significantly impact the way we currently live. The opportunities are growing and they exist for everyone.

But what’s that you say? You’ve seen The IT Crowd and they’re all men… plus everyone knows that a job in IT simply means telling someone to turn it on and off again? Okay, it’s time to stop believing everything you see on TV.

We need a serious perception change here. About what ICT jobs involve, where a career in ICT can take you and about women being perceived as the right ‘fit’ for the industry (by both men and women alike). Women are underrepresented in the industry, comprising only 28% of ICT workers1, whilst accounting for half of the potential workforce. This also makes it an issue of efficiency and economic productivity, as well as equality.

The reasons for the underrepresentation of women in ICT are complex, but keys factors include a lack of female role models, a lack of awareness of career options and a lack of understanding around what is required to get there.

Let’s educate.

Deloitte has joined with LifeJourney in creating Australia’s Day of STEM, to mentor students and to drive the nation’s STEM IQ.

Day of STEM is a national initiative designed to raise the national IQ for STEM and cybersecurity careers. The interactive, online program designed by LifeJourney will enable students to test-drive STEM careers and live a day in the life of the nation’s leading STEM professionals, including those at Deloitte, inspiring the next generation of Australian STEM professionals.

As part of Deloitte’s commitment to attract females into IT careers, the firm runs a female IT Mentoring Program (in conjunction with key universities), which has proved a great success. This program provides students with the valuable opportunity to connect with talented females within the business, hear their career stories, their challenges and triumphs of working in IT, as well as obtain job-ready advice.

ICT

In a video made specifically to celebrate Girls in ICT Day, Brittany Kalliabetsou tells us of her journey – from being inspired at high school by a passionate female IT teacher, to securing a position as one of Deloitte’s Graduates in ICT and progressing her career with the firm.

Even though a career producing virtual reality headsets or autonomous cars may seem far-fetched, the reality is that these opportunities are available here and now – including in cyber security.

So much so, Deloitte recently launched its 24/7 Cyber Intelligence Centre rittany Kalliabetsou (CIC). Sarah Harris, a Cyber Security Analyst at the CIC tells us in our ‘Meet our Cyber Intelligence Centre team’ video what she gets up to on a daily basis, from ethical hacking to tracking cyber criminals.

Recognising the importance of cyber, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull recently launched the government’s cyber security strategy and announced an additional $230 million investment in cyber – meaning an even greater future for ICT, STEM and cyber in Australia. What’s more, our very own CEO Cindy Hook took part in the roundtable launch!

So to all the girls and young women out there – don’t let The IT Crowd be your guide, find out more from people like Brittany and Sarah about what the future could hold for your career in ICT.

1) Deloitte Access Economics’ report for the Australian Computer Society, Australia’s Digital Pulse 2016

2) Deloitte Access Economics’ 2014 report for Professor Ian Chubb and the Office of the Chief Scientist, Australia’s STEM workforce: A survey of employers