Coding students study computing at Ladies Learning Code workshop.
Co-Executive Director, Ladies Learning Code
It’s such an exciting time for women in technology and I’m really optimistic about the opportunities that exist for girls and women to enter, learn, and grow within this industry.
The increasing attention on the issue of the gender gap in technology means ‘code’ is more mainstream. If you didn’t think much about it before, chances are you do now. And that’s awesome. The more we can talk about and provide opportunities for learning, the more we can inspire the next generation of technologists.
I wholeheartedly encourage every girl and woman to try coding out. Technology is everywhere and it’s not going anywhere. If we can inspire girls and women to be confident and equipped to participate equally in the creation of technology, we’re going to be better equipped as a country and society to build technology that will better serve all Canadians. We will also help solve many of the problems that are unique to women and have the power to truly change the world.
Founder, TechGirls Canada and Senior Director of Marketing, AudienceView Inc.
As much as I am heartened to see a lot of dialogue around the lack of diversity in the science and technology sectors, I’m also very cautious of how falling into the same trap we did in the 70s — namely, this complacency that just talking about it will somehow resolve it.
Now that momentum has been created around access to the most exciting and promising frontier in human history, we have to remember to do the work to open up access to those on the margins, instead of resting on the laurels of inclusivity that only benefits those of us closest to the top. Leaders with platforms and authority also have the power to ensure that people of colour, female gender, queer people, aboriginal people, people of various physical and mental abilities, and transgender people all get access to create, build, and inspire in tech.
Let’s aim for true equality that opens up the world of possibility to everyone!
Executive Director, Women in Communications and Technology
Digital technology is revolutionizing industry at large, and Canada’s information, communications, and technology (ICT) sectors are at the core of this transformation.
These sectors are the key drivers of Canada’s digital economy, creating opportunities for high-skilled jobs and growth. To benefit from this digital transformation, talent from across the country must be engaged across all digital sectors. Yet women are significantly unrepresented in today’s ICT companies; women make up only 25 percent of the ICT workforce, with a board representation rate of less than five percent.
The ICT landscape is lacking a network of support for women in male-dominated sectors. There are few female leaders and mentors for women to share their challenges and successes. Without a supportive network and female leaders, ICT sectors will face difficulty in engaging and retaining female talent.
Women in Communications and Technology (WCT) is addressing the lack of female leadership and representation through a cross-sector mentorship and career sponsorship program. The WCT mentorship program has been running for 15 years and has brought together over 300 women through structured and facilitated matching, while the career sponsorship program is a unique program proving to be highly successful in advancing women into leadership roles in ICT companies.
Dr. Thomas Duever
P.Eng., FCIC, Dean, Faculty of Engineering and Architectural Science, Ryerson University
Among STEM graduates aged 25 to 34, women accounted for 59 percent of those in science and technology programs, with only 23 percent of those in engineering and 30 percent of those in mathematics and computer science programs.
Highly skilled engineers and computer scientists are the foundation of today’s economy and employers lament the lack of enough qualified individuals. Increasing female participation solves the ‘skills gap’. We need to come together with a new approach that engages employers, educational institutions, and professional associations. This plan should reach primary and secondary schools to instill confidence, numeracy, curiosity, and an understanding of the avenues to success, a strategy that addresses the stereotypes of engineers and computer scientists.
We are fortunate to have so many successful women in the field and so many employers and educators committed to addressing the gender imbalance, but we also need to encourage men to actively participate, as allies, as mentors, and as change agents to move us ahead. Increasing the diversity of engineers and computers scientists is fundamental to economic growth and innovation. Increasing the participation of women in these professions is one of the fastest ways to achieve this.
Dr. Charmaine Dean
Dean of Science, Western University
In an IT-driven economy, and a world dependent on ‘bits’ of creativity and expertise to address complex global challenges in cyber-security, human health, and environmental change, the declining diversity and representation of women in the field of computing is sorely and unacceptably low.
The opportunity to think beyond the traditional lines of code, address fundamental societal issues, and benefit from the relative flexibility that a computing environment generally provides should be very attractive to females, but significant barriers remain.
Girls, particularly in low socioeconomic settings, must have greater access to computers and be encouraged to explore the world of computing in an inspiring and supportive environment. Camps such as our Bit by Bit program offer girls the opportunity to not just play games, but to design them — they swap surfing the web with transforming its content with their own sites.
Scholars also need role models, influential female representatives of faculty, industry partners, and alumni in the learning environment, those who can offer shadowing and mentorship opportunities and introductions to networks of driven, experienced, and aspiring women leaders in computing. Western University has advanced its efforts in these areas and in particular is developing a dedicated leadership initiative that will include women in computing, to be launched in early 2016.
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