Aleisha Amohia is a young woman who really is changing the world one step at a time. She is of Maori, Indian and Cambodian descent and she shared a little of her journey in the technology industry with our club on April 26.
Brenda Lazelle reports.
As Koha technical Lead for Catalyst IT, Aleisha wears many hats in her efforts to create change in her sector.

While at Wellington East Girls College her digital technologies class did a field trip to Silicon Valley. This was a very formative experience for a number of reasons, not the least, it was where she saw women of colour  succeeding in the tech industry. Throughout her secondary schooling, she put her hand up for leadership roles and discovered that being a leader for a cause that she cared about gave her a strong sense of purpose.

Another invaluable experience was attending the Catalyst Open Source Academy – a two week summer holiday programme for high school students to become emersed in everything open source. It was here that she worked on an open source Library software project called Koha – getting real life experience and feedback on her code from users. This early introduction to Catalyst IT eventually transitioned into a permanent developer role with the company.

Then in 2016, she enrolled for a double degree at VUW while continuing working part time. Being very driven she achieved this in four years rather the usual six. However, university life brought challenges – there were few women in the digital technologies faculty, and she didn’t feel well supported. But with her usual proactive approach she banded together a group of university friends and established a Women In Tech community to improve support and representation for women and gender diverse students. This created a safe space for social events, workshops and interaction with industry and it wasn’t long before membership reached 200. A code of conduct that people had to agree to when registering for events meant it was visible that safety and respect was understood, creating a culture inclusive of everyone.

Aleisha has continued to contribute to education, networking opportunities and mentoring at the Academy that opened doors for her. Being on the executive committee of the National Council of Women means she is now  influencing policy and culture.

To paraphrase her concluding comments … women in tech still have a long way to go, but women bring a different value to the things we do so the solutions we put out into the world are for all people. That is how we have inclusive design, ethical solutions and sustainable ideas.
"Diversity is being asked to the party - inclusion is being asked to dance". Verna Myers (VP of Inclusion Strategy at Netflicks).