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Video: Diving into diversity with Toronto’s top women in tech
North America is seen as the most industry leading region by 35% of technology professionals (Networkers Voice of the Workforce report, 2017), and cities like Toronto are particularly booming with tech activity and job opportunities. Despite this, the Canadian tech industry is still climbing to create a more diverse workforce, as demonstrated by MoveTheDial’s 2017 report, which found that the industry lacks a balance in male/female professionals in leadership. The report found that women represent only 5% of CEO positions and 13% of executive positions, and 53% of tech companies surveyed had no female executives at all.
To help educate young women about the opportunities available, and encourage them to pursue a career in tech, Networkers partnered with Victoria University in Toronto to host an exclusive event, featuring talks from some of Toronto’s most hardworking women, who’ve discovered great successes through working in technology in varying capacities.
Watch the video below to hear more about the event and the advice the leading female professionals had for the students:
Video shot and edited by Ahmed Said
Laura Backman, IT Talent Advisor at Networkers summarised the event:
“We wanted to create an event to celebrate the idea of getting more women involved in technology careers. We want to open up student perspectives into what opportunities exist beyond graduation, and identify that there is a huge gap right now in the number of women versus men in the technology industry. We also want women to know there are a lot of opportunities in technology for them.”
Top tips from the top females in tech
With several female role models from the Toronto tech scene in attendance, there was plenty of insight for the student attendees to gain. Here are some of the key learnings from the event:
1. Learn from your predecessors
“Don’t be afraid to reach out and help build yourself” said Stephanie Nguyen, Director of Women Who Code, who advised that often, people already excelling in the industry are happy to share their story with those aspiring to build a career in tech.
Yolande Doan, Director - Mocatta & Foreign Exchange Technology, ScotiaBank had similar advice:
“Talk to technologists – male or female – and see how you want to contribute to delivering innovation.”
2. Be confident in your abilities & don’t be afraid to make mistakes
Having the confidence and determination to succeed in a male-dominated industry was highlighted as being hugely important to Yaa Otchere - Toronto Chapter & Programming Lead, Canada Learning Code, who said “I went part time, I changed my career and I’m in tech to make a difference. There’s lots of ways you can work in tech and still have an impact.”
Lana Novikova, CEO, Heartbeat.AI emphasised the importance of adapting your approach and being willing to make mistakes:
“Women tend to work too hard and over-prepare and until it’s perfect; you’ll never show your work. The beauty of tech is that it’s good to break things…because fixing things is even better.”
3. Know your tech personality
Andrea Niles-Day, Director - IT Portfolio Planning & Governance, RBC Capital Markets, described three different tech personalities (hackers, hipsters and hustlers) to showcase the different roles you can play in the tech world:
“A hacker is the hard-core techy. They enjoy the coding, the robotics, the making it work. A hipster is about the design – this is the person that makes it usable, creates the style, the brand, the culture and the master of the interaction. A hustler is the salesperson – the marketer. The person that helps you realise why this will help you.”
It’s clear from the data and the speakers that, despite the outdated perceptions on the industry, there are vast opportunities for females to carve successful career paths in technology. Not only is the technology world in need of more female STEM graduates, there are also more opportunities than ever before to climb the career ladder.
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