Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Google and Fifty50

Google is one of those companies everyone dreams about working for. We've all heard the rumours...slippery slides, climbing walls, free meals and, my personal favourite, their 20% projects. From the outside, the Google workplace seems like a tech-lover's playground, but probably just out of reach for most of us. 

In 2015 I was lucky enough to visit their office in Sydney, but only for a few days. I went to Anita Borg ANZ Retreat. A group of women from Australia and New Zealand were able to take part in workshops on professional development, unconscious bias, Google itself, and ways to encourage younger students to explore technical fields. 

I was, of course, impressed by the office (though I was disappointed not to come across a single slippery slide). Their catering facilities, onsite medical services, and spaces for learning and sharing ideas seemed phenomenal to me. 

However, I think the most impressive thing I experienced was the energy which permeated in the workshops. Not the energy from the Google employees, but the energy from the other students. It was the first time I had been in a room full of (mostly) women who were truly passionate about technology and encouraging other people to be equally as passionate. I do have a few friends who feel the same way, but I'd never been in a room of 25 people who were so in step before. 

One of Google's great skills is its ability to create and harness energy like that, and that's something I wanted to bring back to ANU. 

This year our new gender equity group, Fifty50, is working to create a space that allows all of the staff and students in the College of Engineering and Computer Science to feel supported, enthusiastic and excited for their future. The group also hopes to appeal to high school students thinking of studying with us. We have big plans for networking events, mentoring programs, talks from industry, social media awareness and workshops in schools. 

It's going to be a wonderful year for coming together, sharing ideas and supporting each other. I’m hoping to reproduce that Google energy (admittedly in a slightly less flamboyant way) right here at the ANU.


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