Women talk tech

Women in Tech World workshop

Monday, November 6, 2017

By Anne Craig, Communications Officer

Women in Tech World discuss technology careers with local leaders during stop in Kingston.

A group of leaders in the technology world recently gathered at Innovation Park to discuss challenges facing women in the sector.

Queen’s University, Innovation Park and Kingston Economic Development co-hosted a pan-Canadian research initiative aimed at supporting and promoting women working in technology. Women in Tech World brought their Driving WinTech program to Kingston in mid-October and engaged local women in tech, as well as enablers of women in tech, in a community conversation.

“The event attracted different groups of women, each with a unique voice. Several of the participants run their own company,” says Janice Mady, Director, Industry Partnerships & Innovation Park. “They indicated that they are in control of their own destiny and do not experience issues as women working in tech. We also had mid-career women who work in science and tech for a variety of local companies. They indicated that they often feel they are a lone voice, and struggle to have their input heard, understood or acted upon. Younger women, whether in academia or industry, talked about falling behind when they started raising their family.”

Women in Tech World is a grassroots organization based out of Vancouver dedicated to creating opportunities, connections and actionable steps to elevate women in tech. It’s volunteer run and the group is currently on the road, travelling via RV across Canada. Driving WinTech is partially funded by a Kickstarter campaign with that funding being used for transportation costs, car repairs and fuel.

The goals include developing a better understanding of women who are working in technology in Canada, understanding women’s experiences in the technology industry, and identifying the best practices for inclusion and promotion of women in the tech industry.

To make that happen, Women in Tech World has developed relationships with more than 45 community partners that are key partners in disseminating the information.

“We think we’ve come so far but we definitely heard that there are still issues to address, and so doing may help to attract more women to pursue technology careers,” says Donna Gillespie CEO, Kingston Economic Development Corporation.

With the information collected from across Canada, Driving WinTech will author a national report featuring their findings, and create a set of regional playbooks to guide the development and implementation of strategies to more effectively support and retain women in tech fields.

Ms. Gillespie says once the Kingston group has this information in-hand, they can decide on next steps.

“We would like to get this information in front of the government so they can help us with the next steps. Women interested in working in technology need to see it as a viable career path," she says. "There is an appetite for this conversation to continue and we have the resources to do that.”

The groups are planning another discussion in early 2018.

“Many communities have established forums for women in tech, including entrepreneurs, to convene. Twenty percent of people leading tech startups are women, and we would like to see this number grow,” says Ms. Mady.