Over a recent period of time, technology companies and the tech industry itself, have been working to address the gender gap in workforce diversity. According to Deloitte Insights on “Women in the tech Industry,” tech companies are gaining ground to address this diversity gap.
This is also something the 2021 “Second National Data Report on Girls and Women in STEM”, by the Department of Industry has also shown. Their data has demonstrated an increase in the proportion of women working across all STEM-qualified industries increasing from 24% in 2016 to 28% by 2021.
As a health technology company, we at Olinqua, also support workplace diversity, as we recognise the breadth of innovation, rich ideas, and varied knowledge that diverse teams bring.
Our CNIO – Sarah Hughes – is a role model for others and an example of how women can combine their passion for one specific industry (in healthcare, as Sarah originally practised as a Registered Nurse) and other fields, such as technology, to offer not only invaluable clinical experience in product development, training, and implementation but also rich cultural perspectives and people management.
Sarah’s nursing and digital health journey is something she will be excitedly sharing at two events in May 2022, focused on how all companies, community and individuals can encourage a more gender diverse workforce in STEM.
“I am very honoured to be invited to these two important events, focused on encouraging more diversity into not only the digital health sector but in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths industries,” said Sarah.
“I am especially looking forward to sharing – through my own experiences – how we can combine both passions for quality health care and digital innovations in our everyday work and career journey.”
These two events include:
- The Talking HealthTech (THT) Autumn Summit 2022 panel discussion: Gender Equity in Healthcare on 12 May, 8:30AM-5:00pm AEDT online.
- Queensland TAFE’s Digitrek event Women and Tech: Careers and Adventures to Inspire on 21 May, 2.45-4pm in Townsville at the Pimlico TAFE campus and accessible online.
Sharing Sarah’s diverse CNIO Journey
As mentioned above, Sarah started her career as a Registered Nurse. During her journey she also branched out training as an educator after her love for giving back to the community. She also traversed into the academic field, having spent many years building out her knowledge. Already passionate about diversity and equality in education, Sarah saw an opportunity to further combine this interest with technology.
That of course then led to us at Olinqua – where Sarah is currently the Chief Nursing Information Officer and a member of our Clinical Advisory Board. Her love of innovation in Digital Health Ecosystems, lead to an invitation to join the Australian College of Nursing, Nurse Informatics and Digital Health Faculty. Here, Sarah volunteers her time with other driven CNIOs and CN&MIOs to combine their expertise and knowledge, to further support the wider community.
Within Olinqua, Sarah’s knowledge, diverse work experiences and insights has meant she was enabled to take on varying leadership roles – from Head of Delivery (Acting) (working closely with our engineers to implement our solutions into hospitals), and also as our Head of People and Culture (where she advocates for a psychologically safe workplace and culture), all whilst still getting involved in Digital Health education and enablement for many nurses at various educational institutions.
Throughout these varied and distinct roles, and by moving from traditional healthcare to digital health, Sarah has gained key insights into what everyone – from company/industry to individual level can do to support more women into tech and STEM careers and promote diversity:
- Industries to develop and profile female role models in tech: One thing that Sarah has mentioned helped her to navigate the digital health space is being able to connect with other female (and male) CNIOs and CN&MIO’s and “learn from their experiences and listen to their stories.” “Research done by Stanford’s Computer Science department concluded that the lack of role models is one of the main reasons why women no longer choose to pursue Computer Science. My own experience has shown the importance of having more connectivity and role models to learn, discover and bounce ideas with,” said Sarah.
- Organisations to create flexible working environments: Women generally are primary care givers and often struggle to get back into the workforce after becoming mothers. Sarah indicated that her role as Olinqua’s Head of People and Culture show that one way to encourage more women into STEM (or any other industry) is to offer part-time work arrangements and support women during these exciting times. “Here at Olinqua, we are attracting women returning to work after a career break through our flexible working arrangements, allowing some of our team members to work remotely, at hours that best suit them. The tech industry – known for its flexible work arrangements – can further embrace this and lead the way,” explained Sarah.
- Everyone can support diversity early, and continuously: “Make it normal to be interested in Tech and encourage others to think “ What could we do with Tech that can help us? These are several key areas in the literature, I read the other day and it stuck with me,” said Sarah. “Earlier in my career – and still today – when I can, I am involved in teaching, mentoring, consulting and and grading nursing students who are taking Nursing Informatics, Digital Health, and technology related subjects as part of their tertiary electives.” “These experiences have taught me that it is so important to encourage interest in STEM, IT, and tech early for anyone, especially women. This ensures that we address systemic gender gaps for the next generation and the generation after. Support diversity early and continuously.”
These insights will be further elaborated and discussed at the two upcoming panel sessions that Sarah is involved in May, with more details provided below.
About Talking Health Tech Summit
The THT Summit is a quarterly conference, where the health-tech ecosystem gets together for a full day virtual event to explore important topics shaping healthcare.
This year the Autumn Summit is focused on the theme “Breaking down the silos; One conversation at a time,” which will be explored on Thursday, 12 May 2022, where Sarah will be involved in the panel discussion: “Gender Equity and Healthcare” moderated by Dr Magdalena Simionis from the Australian Federation of Medical Women.
You can get more information and to book your ticket via the THT website.
Digitrek – The Digital Skills Roadshow – is a QLD government and TAFE initiative delivered across Townsville from 9 – 21 May 2022. The Roadshow is providing a variety of online and face to face workshops, experiences, panel discussions and networking opportunities, to offer the diversity available in enhancing digital skills and the associated education and career pathways.
Digitrek will be delivered to various audiences, from students, to teachers and career changers. It presents an opportunity for young people to see the career possibilities within the technology sector.
The event will also advance the Queensland government’s digital workforce Action Plan.
Sarah will be joining industry leaders – Dianna Hardy, Trine Paerata, Heather Robson, and Keziah Furnell from James Cook University – a panel session titled “Careers and Adventures to Inspire,” focused on sharing ideas, insights, and knowledge on how we can all support girls and young women to embark on a digital and/or STEM career.
The panel session will be moderated by Miranda Mears from the Smart Precinct NQ, taking place on Saturday, 21 May 2022 at the Pimlico TAFE campus, from 2.45pm – 4pm AEDT. The panel discussions will also be available for online viewing.
For more information and to book tickets for the event, please visit the DigiTrek website.