Women in IT: Rebecca Dorries

Rebecca Dorries is one of the seven graduates to have been selected from a pool of 6500 applicants, for the Qantas IT graduate program this year.

After completing high school in 2001, Dorries chose to study for a Bachelor of Information Technology at Queensland's Griffith University, where she discovered that IT could offer more career options than she had first imagined.

When did you start having an interest in technology?

I first used a computer in year eight. As my school had a new computer lab, it was compulsory to do both typing and computer studies. Not knowing how to use a computer, I struggled at first; it also didn't help that I was assigned the computer that kept crashing for what seemed to be no reason.

As I started to get confidant with computers and I learnt to type, I found that they were a great tool for communicating. Everyone at my school used MSN and it was a way I could chat to my friends and family in other states and around the world.

The more I used computers, the more problems I encountered. Programs didn't do what I wanted them to do, and I felt restricted. So I naturally put lots of effort into understanding how they worked and I tried to work out how they could be fixed.

What aspects of technology interest you most?

My current interest is how technology is used to communicate and transfer knowledge. Our world is becoming more technical, which changes the way we do things. We no longer have to send letters and important business documents via snail mail, we can simply click a couple of buttons and the recipient can read the document while you are talking to them face to face via Web cam. How people share their knowledge and use technology to do that fascinates me. Technology always keeps me thinking as it is always changing.

In my spare time, I enjoy catching up with people. Before I moved from Brisbane to Sydney, I ensured all my friends and family had purchased headphones and I have set them up with Internet chat programs, so we can talk real time.

Were there many other girls interested in and studying IT related subjects in your year, and of those that were, do you know of any that went on to develop a career in the industry?

There was one other girl in my year that was interested in IT and completed IPT (Information Processing and Technology) in senior year with me. She is currently completing a Business and IT degree and is keen to get out into the industry.

Did you feel encouraged or discouraged by teachers and careers advisers to study and work in IT?

I attended a girls' school and IT wasn't viewed as a very feminine field of study to be undertaking. Lots of the information provided to us at school was about business law, science and hospitality courses but definitely not IT. I believe this to be due to a lack of knowledge about IT in general.

What range of job opportunities will the airline industry offer you?

I have only been working a little over a month at Qantas, so it's hard to answer this question. However, after talking to lots of different people, and the other graduates, IT is used in both operational and commercial areas of the airline. So there is a vast range of possibilities.

How do you see yourself as suited for role in IT?

I have a thirst for knowledge but I don't want to be an expert in one area. I want to have knowledge in lots of different areas.

I also like to be up to date. Technology changes so fast, so I enjoy the challenges of keeping up to date and upgrading my skills all the time.

I am inquisitive and I enjoy solving problems. When there is any type of problem, like a work process is not working, I like to find the cause of the problem and find ways of overcoming it.

Have you faced any hurdles being a female working in the industry?

No, not yet.

Why do you think there is a shortage of females working in IT?

I believe stereotypes and misconceptions cause the shortage of females working in IT. People have a misconception as to what IT is.

I am told that you hope one day to use your technical knowledge to assist doctors. How do you plan to do this and why do you feel that is something you would like to do?

When I was younger I always wanted to become a doctor. However, as time progressed, I had an increasing interest in IT. So when I had to make a decision as to what university course I was going to take, I chose IT, knowing that one day I could still achieve my childhood dream of helping sick people.

As part of my Honours, I investigated how doctors and allied health professionals share knowledge when treating patients at hospitals. I hope that my research can play a small part in helping both governments and health organizations when planning the integration of technology in hospitals.

Where do you see your career in 10 years?

In 10 years time I hope to have expanded my knowledge and expertise into lots of different areas, ultimately resulting in project management.

Who has been your biggest IT role model and why?

My role model is my friend Jenine, my lecturer in first year who has recently set up her own business. She has encouraged me to take risks, taught me about the importance of networking and she continuously encourages me to take challenges.

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