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TechWomen introduces new Executive Director and Executive Council Members

We are pleased to introduce our new Executive Director, Yvonne Gill and two new Executive Council Members, Jemma Simmonds and Tash Bettridge. They are all extremely passionate about supporting women in tech and are excited to join the TechWomen team. Learn more about them below.

Yvonne Gill, Executive Director

For the past year and a half I have been working at NZTech as Strategic Programmes Director, overseeing all our events and conferences and key strategic programmes aimed at encouraging more people into tech. As part of this role I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know the amazing TechWomen team and have been inspired by their passion for encouraging and keeping more women in tech. So when the opportunity came along to take a more active role as the Executive Director I jumped at the chance. I’m excited about getting stuck in and helping to support and grow TechWomen.

Prior to joining NZTech I had over 15 years’ experience in events, marketing and project management within the New Zealand business and technology sector, in publishing and the IT market research sector.

In 2018 I completed a Masters in Technological Futures, at Tech Futures Lab in Auckland. It was certainly my busiest year to date, balancing a full time job while studying and also expecting/having a baby (not recommended but totally achievable!). My baby is now about to start school, so outside of work my partner and I are busy trying to keep up with a very active preschooler, and starting to worry about how on earth we are going to manage school holidays! I also have a keen interest in women’s sport and just about manage to still play soccer and gaelic football, so am super excited about the upcoming FIFA women’s world cup.

So what will my role at TechWomen involve? Our purpose is to help address one of the major challenges for the successful growth of technology in New Zealand – a shortage of women in tech roles. 

Only 27%* of the New Zealand Digital IT workforce are female. The recently released Digital Industry Transformation Plan (ITP), which NZTech has helped develop with industry and government, has called out a target to lift female participation to 50% of the tech workforce by 2030. That is one seriously big hairy audacious goal, so a big part of my role will be to see how TechWomen can help to achieve that. 

Jemma Simmonds, Executive Council Member

It’s been wonderful this year to join the TechWomen executive council and to work alongside such a talented group of women.

By day, I’m a Manager in Deloitte’s Artificial Intelligence & Data team, where I spend my time analysing data and designing technology solutions. This role has allowed me to develop a deep understanding of the transformative power of data and its impact on businesses across various industries. More recently, I’ve also learnt a lot about the impacts our collection and usage of data can have on equity outcomes. I love leveraging my technical expertise to drive meaningful outcomes for our clients and for New Zealanders.

However, my passion for making a difference extends beyond my day job. I’m particularly committed to supporting charities that empower women and children in STEM fields, being involved with organisations like Zonta and the Wonder Project. Diversity and inclusivity are incredibly important in technology, and I actively seek opportunities to bridge the gender gap and create an environment where everyone (and particularly more young women!) can thrive in technology.

For the past three years, I’ve been coordinating the TechWomen Wellington Mentoring Circles, and have loved helping to facilitate connections within our local tech community. This year I’m joining the executive council to coordinate the Mentoring Circles programme nationally. An exciting new development this year is creating a national forum where all Mentoring Circle participants can connect, fostering connections between locations for the first time. I firmly believe that using our networks to provide guidance, encouragement, and support through near-peer mentoring can help empower our women to unlock their full potential and work towards their goals in technology.

I’ve joined TechWomen because I believe that many hands make light work, and together we can achieve tasks that are impossible for one person alone. In serving on the council, I’m looking forward to doing my part to create a more diverse & inclusive technology community, where all women can thrive.

Tash Bettridge, Executive Council Member

I am delighted to be joining the passionate group of wāhine at NZTech Women. As a woman dedicated to fostering diversity and inclusion in the tech industry, it’s a privilege to join an organisation that supports and promotes women in technology in Aotearoa, NZ.

My journey into tech has been challenging but also immensely rewarding. After living and working as a teacher overseas, I made the decision to pivot my career and explore the tech industry. Despite facing some initial difficulties, I persevered and completed my bachelor’s degree in computing from Unitec. I then pursued a Micro IT master’s degree at Charles Sturt University, specialising in Cybersecurity and Penetration Testing, and went on to receive a scholarship to pursue my master’s degree at Tech Futures.

My day job is a Customer Success Account Manager at Microsoft, working in the GAMD (Global Account Management Delivery Team). However, my other full-time job is as a sole parent to two daughters under 12. Despite the challenges of balancing my personal and professional responsibilities, I am always working with an amazing community of wāhine working in tech, security, and business on diversity and inclusion initiatives after hours.

Throughout my studies, I was fortunate enough to receive numerous awards and honors, including the Association for Women in Sciences Scholar Award and the Grace Hopper Computing Scholar Award by Google in 2019. In 2020, I was selected as a delegate for the Harvard Project for Asian and International Relations (HPAIR) conference, where I gained valuable insights into the global technology landscape.

While I was studying and writing my master’s report, I co-founded the New Zealand Network for Women in Security (NZNWS) with Sai Honig. Our community provides support, resources, and networking opportunities for women in the security industry, and I am incredibly proud of how much it has grown since its launch.

I joined NZTech Women because I strongly believe in the power of diversity and inclusion to create a brighter future for all. As a woman in tech, I understand the challenges that women can face in this industry, and I am passionate about supporting and empowering them. NZTech Women shares my vision, and I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of an organisation that aligns with my values and goals. Together, let’s work towards creating a better future for wāhine in tech in Aotearoa, New Zealand and beyond.

I strongly believe in the power of diversity and inclusion to create a brighter future for all. As the saying goes, “Me aro koe ki te hā o Hine-ahu-one” – pay heed to the dignity and power of women.

Let’s work together to support and empower wāhine in technology and create a better future for us all.

TechWomen TechWomen is a group of passionate New Zealand tech, digital and ICT focused individuals from leading organisations that work together, with the support of NZTech, to help address the shortage of women in tech roles.