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Today, 8th March is International Women’s Day, and we’re taking this opportunity to speak with three amazing women working in civic tech. We hear from Kyreena Hay, a Developer and Service Designer who has worked in the public sector as well as for various NGOs; Michelle Cabanela — Principle Product Manager at Service NSW, and Cassitie Galliott, Code for Australia’s Head of Delivery and People.

Image: Michelle Cabanela, Kyreena Hay, and Cassitie Galliott

Despite the fact that some of the earliest programmers were groundbreaking women, there is still a huge disparity in the amount of women working in the tech sector. Aside from the stats (of which there are many), when women do break into the industry, their experiences don’t always match up with their ambitions or their aptitude.

How can women, and indeed other underrepresented groups, be expected to excel in an industry with few role models, shaky representation, and where the overarching ethos is to move fast, and not be afraid to fail?(Underrepresented groups don’t have the luxury of failing.)

To chat about all this and much more, we sat down with Kyreena, Michelle, and Cassitie to talk about their journeys as women in tech, what’s worked for them, and what other people and organisations can do to increase gender equity within their teams.



A full transcript of this episode is available as a PDF here and in plain text here.

“You saying something is that little incremental change that will lead to bigger results at the end of the day.”


  • “A woman’s experience is different to a man’s experience. And that diversity of thought that comes as a result of that brings so much value to any sorts of conversations, and input in a workplace.”
  • “I’d like to see men realising all the various little biases that they have, and understanding that you’re not necessarily inherently sexist, or trying to be problematic… It’s just that we’ve been brought up in this society that sends out these little messages, and it all adds up into a sort of amalgamated propaganda that we subconsciously — without realising — act out.”
  • “There’s all kinds of fantastic communities where support is needed, allies are needed, and we can all be allies for each other and all support each other.”
  • “You know what I do [in job interviews]? I just speak like a feminist and see how they react.”
  • “Getting into tech is so much easier than you think it is!”
  • “Don’t hold yourself back. I think sometimes we allow limiting beliefs to play a role in us progressing to the next stage.”
  • “Women are less likely to apply for jobs unless they meet 100% of the criteria, while men are more likely to try their luck for a role, even if they may not be fully qualified for it. So that means that there are women out there, it’s just that we’re not hearing from them. And we’re the ones missing out.”
  • “We hold ourselves back from saying something out of fear of how we might be perceived. If we don’t do anything about it, if you don’t say anything, we don’t get the change or the outcome that we’re desiring as a whole.”
  • “Gender equity will be something that will bring benefits to your organisation. Not just in terms of the amazing new staff you’ll get, but also in terms of generating new business, generating new ideas, gaining a better reputation, and all of the flow on effects that will bring.”


Want to be a guest on this podcast?

We’re always looking for folks working in civic tech and government to speak with about themes you’re encountering or work being done. If you’re keen to have a chat to us contact us at info@codeforaustralia.org

You can leave us a comment or question in the comments or via Typeform, or reach out to us here, and we’ll be happy to answer all your burning questions!

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