It was a pleasure to kick off the 2018 Peer Group season on January 11, 2018 for TechConnex with a great presentation by Wendy Kerkhoff of Intellidig on the state of women in technology in Canada.

While the outlook for women in the technology sector continues to look grim, what was really encouraging was to see an enthusiastic and dedicated group of women out to start tackling the topic of how to fix it.

Here are stats from the presentation that need to be shared and discussed in 2018. We can no longer continue to accept the status of women in the tech sector if we want an innovative and diversified sector in the future. Its up to everyone working in technology in Canada to play a role in advancing women in tech and ensuring that girls want to enter the profession and stay in the profession.

Some questions we tackled in January’s peer group:

Is there are a problem of woman being represented in the tech sector?

  • According to ICTC, women make up 47% of the workforce but hold just 25% of the technology jobs in Canada.
  • IT talent shortage of >182,000 workers in Canada by 2019. (ICTC) and 216,000 by 2021.
  • Over the past 20 years the number of women graduating with Computer Science degrees has declined 19%
  • 80% of men hold the highest paying jobs in the tech sector, while 80% of the lowest paying jobs are held by women.
  • The “T” in STEM is the only one of these sectors where female employment is in decline and yet the tech industry is growing faster than any other industry.

Short answer is YES. But as you start to dig in to why this is the case, the stat that jumped out the most for me was this:

  • In 2015, Canadian women with bachelor’s degrees in STEM earned ~20% less than their male counterparts.

So what can Canadian businesses do to improve the gender imbalance in the tech sector?

  • Develop mentorship programs to encourage young girls to explore careers in technology – focus on education.
  • Educating front line managers to embrace differences between hiring and retaining women vs men, right down to entry level.
  • Assign an internal champion – every organization needs a diversity champion.
  • Become an employer of choice – openly advertise initiatives to promote and attract women and include Diversity Statements in all job postings.
  • Create Women’s/peer groups and organize and promote seminars, networking, confr etc. Deloitte
  • Develop and actively promote internal diversity targets.
  • Identify and improve pay equity issues.
  • Provide flexible work arrangements that specifically accommodate women.
  • Take steps to eliminate unconscious bias in the workplace. Women in “male” jobs are viewed as less competent than their male peers. When women are clearly competent, they are often considered less “likable.”
  • Develop more collaboration and partnership with schools and universities.

Both TechConnex and CompTIA have been leading the charge on this issue and will continue to do so in 2018. Peer groups like Advancing Women in Tech lead by TechConnex are trying to tackle the problem and address large scale change.

Come out and participate and lend your voice to the discussion.

The next AWIT Peer Group will be February 1, 2018 at 8:00 am at the TechConnex offices. If you are a TechConnex member or member of the CompTIA Canadian Community, you can attend. Contact TechConnex to see if you can test drive a peer group before becoming a member.

Our goal for the AWIT Peer Group in 2018 is to prepare a whitepaper on this topic and raise awareness of the decline of women in the tech sector in Canada. We all win when their is a strong tech sector, which can only work when it represents and employs women in a meaningful way. Let’s change the decline in numbers by talking about the issues and help Canada be competitive.