Hype & Dexter celebrates award win after efforts to transform male-dominated industry

NZ co-founder reveals why they are changing the male-dominated tech narrative

Hype & Dexter celebrates award win after efforts to transform male-dominated industry

A New Zealand tech company that is striving to put women on the map in a male-dominated industry has been awarded for its diversity and inclusion efforts.

Hype & Dexter took home the Advocacy Award in B&T’s recent Australasian Women Leading Tech Awards. Since Hype & Dexter’s inception three years ago, the digital transformation agency has launched a number of initiatives to encourage females into the tech industry.

The company runs annual paid internships for young women in tertiary and secondary education, as well as delivering talks and sessions to schools in a bid to change the narrative around what it’s like to be a woman in the tech sector.

Speaking to HRD, co-founder and chief experience officer, Romi Dexter, said her drive to improve the industry for other women was inspired by the alarming statistics on female participation in STEM subjects and within the industry as a whole.

“It kicked us off to talk about our team internally, but also what was happening in the wider, external community,” she said.

“Firstly, we needed to make sure we were attracting wonderful female talent and by then, we already had some really amazing women in the team. We also had to make sure we had mechanisms in place so they could succeed within our business.

“But then thirdly, it was about the broader community and looking at ways we could encourage younger womenn into the industry as well.”

Read more: More than half of Australia's workers hide true selves at work: Study

Having gotten into tech sector almost by accident after her first job in the film industry, Dexter said she was largely unaware of the perception of tech as male-dominated. But once she began going to meetings where she was the only woman in the room, she sometimes felt she needed to win the respect among some males. Being asked “so who’s wife are you?” at tech events where the majority of the audience is male is another example of the outdated assumptions that still exist, she said.

But Dexter hopes that by changing the perception of the industry as a place where both women and men can enjoy exciting, rewarding careers, jobs in the sector will become accessible for everyone. As a country, New Zealand stands to make huge gains in productivity from investing in the tech sector and the skills needed to drive innovation.

“Technology is something that we interact and engage with every day,” Dexter said. “If the people who are designing those integrations and how the user experiences work are all cut from the same cloth, it's going to hold back the industry. But it's also going to start to change how we behave and interact.”

Read more: WeWork D&I lead urges employers to design more inclusive workplaces in wake of pandemic

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