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IWD 2024: Meet Aleisha Amohia: Rōpū kohinga Technical Lead


Aleisha Amohia, Rōpū kohinga Technical Lead explains what International WOmens Day 2024 means to her

Catalyst are strong supporters of diversity in the IT sector. So, to celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) 2024, we are sharing insights into some of the amazing women who work at Catalyst and learning what IWD means to them.

Meet Aleisha Amohia, Technical Lead, Rōpū kohinga.

Tell us about your career journey:

I was introduced to Catalyst in 2014 when I was 15 years old by participating in the Catalyst Open Source Academy. At that time, I was working the checkouts at New World supermarket. However, I left at the end of that year to start a developer internship in Rōpū kohinga at Catalyst (called the Koha team at the time). After two months, it became a permanent part-time position while I finished high school.

I continued to work part-time while I studied at Victoria University of Wellington, increasing my hours over the semester holidays. I was also among the first recipients of the Catalyst Open Source scholarship, which was $2,000 yearly for three years of study. It made a big difference over what ended up being four years of a conjoint programme. In 2020, I graduated with a Bachelor of Science majoring in Computer Science and specialising in Artificial Intelligence, and a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Management and minoring in Information Systems. Post-study, I easily transitioned into working full-time at Catalyst. In late 2022, I was promoted to my current role as Technical Lead.

Outside the office, I’ve been heavily involved in activism and volunteering. While studying, I was part of founding the VUW Women in Tech club, which grew to over 200 members and won a few VUW Gold Awards under my leadership. Ultimately, that guided me into the gender equity space, and I now work with a bunch of New Zealand NGOs focussing on gender issues, including the National Council of Women, YWCA, and more. I’ve also been involved in groups advocating for Indigenous justice, typically in the technology sector.

What does International Women's Day mean to you?

International Women’s Day (IWD) is an opportunity to remind Aotearoa that we have not yet achieved gender equity. Women having the right to vote, while a crucial and significant moment in history, did not solve gender inequity. There are still wrongs to right and systems to redesign or dismantle entirely. IWD is a symbol of the continued need for feminism specifically because it acknowledges that society is designed to favour men over other genders. IWD is also a reminder that there is more complexity to life than gender, and our feminism needs to be intersectional to represent the needs of a diverse society.

The IWD theme in 2024 is 'Inspire Inclusion'. What do you do personally, or what do you think businesses can do to create a better culture reflecting this?

I would like to see people and businesses embrace the IWD 2024 Inspire Inclusion theme in transformational and courageous ways. Yes, we need to inspire the inclusion of women, and we can do this through storytelling, amplifying, and celebrating women. We must also inspire the inclusion of trans women and gender-diverse folk in their activism and celebration. We must inspire the inclusion of the other factors that may impact a person’s experience of life when addressing gender issues, such as race, skin colour, disability, and colonisation. I want businesses to be inspired to change their policy and processes to reflect inclusion, including hiring processes, pay transparency, pay gap reporting, and rewards.

Personally, I try to inspire inclusion by allowing myself to be inspired by diverse thinkers and leaders. I ensure my worldview is informed by people and groups actively embodying inclusive practices and trying to improve society. It allows me to be better prepared when the communities I belong to need me to inspire inclusion on their behalf.

What is the biggest change you have seen in your career supporting inclusion?

One of my favourite initiatives I’ve seen undertaken by Catalyst and other organisations is placing menstrual products in the bathrooms. At Catalyst, these products and sanitary bins are in all the bathrooms, not just the women’s. Our people team regularly checks the product stock and keeps it topped up, no questions asked. It’s an initiative that removes some of the taboo around periods (a completely natural experience for over half of the population) and makes people feel seen by their workplace.

What's one thing you hope to see change in the future to help empower more women in the workforce?

Pay gaps and a lack of pay transparency hinder women's success in the workforce. I hope to see the implementation of mandatory pay gap reporting so that women have the numbers to back up their salary negotiations and so people can hold their employers accountable. Other pay transparency initiatives include the disclosure of pay bands and the removal of silence clauses from contracts – there is plenty of research that confirms pay secrecy benefits employers more than it benefits employees.

What one thing are you most proud of in your life?

I am most proud of the connections and opportunities I’ve been able to facilitate for others through my work, both paid and voluntary. It takes trust and energy to speak and act for the communities I represent, and often, progress is hard to quantify. When the people in those communities are thriving and succeeding, I know it has been worth it.

What's one piece of advice you would give to your younger self?

Save your energy for those who support and uplift you, and surround yourself with them.

Want to learn more about a career at Catalyst?

Check out our Careers page.