Entries are now open for the second Women Leading Tech awards, with an aim to shine a spotlight on those looking to inspire the next generation of women in technology.

The B&T Women Leading Tech Awards, held for the first time last year, will take place on 20 April in Sydney this year.

Entries have now been opened for the awards, which include the categories: data science, engineering, entrepreneur or founder, executive leader, marketing, mentor and product and sales.

There are also two new categories focusing on education and research. The education provider award will go to a tertiary education provider offering STEM-based degrees or courses that has demonstrated a “holistic and long-term commitment to the recruitment and retention of female students”.

The new education / research award will go towards women working in lecturing, researching or teaching in a tech discipline at a high school, tertiary or post-graduate level.

According to the European Commission’s Women in Digital Scoreboard, only 17 per cent of ICT specialists are women, while women in ICT earn 19 per cent less than men on average.

B&T editor-in-chief David Hovenden said the awards are looking to recognise those working to close the gender gap in tech.

“When the world is being swallowed by software, we think it’s important that the digital world isn’t created purely by white men,” Hovenden said.

“The Women Leading Tech Awards was launched last year to celebrate the women already making a difference to the gender imbalance in the ever-expanding industry.

“Our hope is other women and particularly young girls who see those leading in the industry will be inspired to join it.”

Entries to the awards close on 1 March, with the shortlist to be revealed on 1 April before the awards night on 20 April at Doltone House in Jones Bay Wharf.

Startup darling Canva dominated the awards last year, with the company’s designer Sally Woellner and engineer Ellie Shin picking up awards. Girls in Tech Australia’s Jessica Box won the mentoring award in 2020, while Versa’s Kath Blackham took out the founder gong.

Just last week Google agreed to pay nearly $5 million to female engineers it underpaid and female and Asian applicants to jobs who were overlooked after being found to have committed “systemic compensation and hiring discrimination”.

More than 2,500 women at Google were allegedly discriminated against in terms of pay, with the tech giant agreeing to repay them $1.777 million in total.

An industry employment report last year found that female scientists are being paid less than their male peers and have fewer opportunities for career advancement, making them more likely to leave the industry.

Researchers from the University of Melbourne also found last year that artificial intelligence tools used to assist with hiring decisions may have built-in biases that disadvantage women as they are influenced by pre-existing biases. In 2018, Amazon scrapped its AI recruiting tool after finding that it showed bias against female applicants.