(Wikimedia Commons)

BC Tech Summit to dedicate a day to future of women

The event is set for March 11-13 at the Vancouver Convention Centre

B.C.’s tech sector may be leading the way across Canada, but women still account for less than 20 per cent of its workforce – below the national average of 25 per cent.

Behind the statistic are advocates and women who pioneer the sector as they push for change. Some of them are set to speak at the upcoming BC Tech Summit in Vancouver.

READ MORE: BC Tech Summit to revolutionize business models

“Diversity and inclusivity has become ever-so-more important and top of mind for everyone,” explained Tomica Divic, vice president of operations with Innovate BC, the Crown agency co-organizing the four-day summit.

“In the future, there is going to be a lot more jobs in the tech sector. We’re going to need to fill those jobs and it doesn’t make sense to leave out half of the workforce by not engaging women effectively.”

The B.C. non-profit Women in Tech World recently released a Gender Equality Roadmap Report, pinning down the key barriers that hinder more equal representation.

It found that “bro culture,” sexism, isolation in the workplace – particularly as a woman moves into bigger positions – and perceptions that women are less competent or less committed all play roles in women lacking confidence at work.

The report suggested these could also be reasons why women make up 54 per cent of post-secondary science and technology graduates, but more than half of those aren’t currently in that line of work.

Forum for Women Entrepreneurs CEO Paulina Cameron, who is one of the keynote speakers at the summit, told Black Press Media that government legislation is one possibility to improve recruitment and retention of women.

“I think policy can go a really far away in terms off setting quotas and mandating certain percentages happening,” Cameron said.

The companies that have succeeded in paying women equal wages and increasing the number of women in leadership positions, she said, are ones that “have stopped playing around with excuses and have put goals and metrics in place.”

Forum for Women Entrepreneurs offers support and education to women across the country looking to head their own business. Consultations includes how to access capital and building the right network, but also offers a sense of community.

“We have really seen a lot of magic when women are able to come together and support one another,” she said.

From robotics to clean tech to blockchain, Divic said it’s crucial women have a role.

“When we look at artificial intelligence, there has been a lot of conversations around ethics and biases that can be built into AI, and the impact this will have in various technologies,” she said.

Divic pointed to a panel discussion she attended at last year’s summit, which focused on programming for self-driving vehicles.

“Unless you’re looking at a female perspective of crossing the street, when we look at autonomous cars and drivers this could have a huge impact on the choices that these vehicles make.”

The BC Tech Summit happens March 11-13 at the Vancouver Convention Centre. A day of pre-summit programming will showcase the positive impact women continue to have in the tech sector.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Rossland’s Seven Summits school gets grant to grow global presence

Centre for Learning hopes to triple the number of international students it has

Rural dividend grants awarded in Kootenay West

Kootenay West MLA Katrine Conroy made the grant announcements in Trail on Thursday

Rossland skiier places third at U19 Canadian Ski Cross

Rossland’s Sage Stefani finished out a successful season.

Warfield elementary school celebrating 70 years

Webster Elementary School officially opened April 23, 1949; open house and events planned next week

Patients thank Kootenay Boundary doctor

Dr. Scheepers’ patients thanked him for the gift of restoring their sight

‘No answers:’ Canadians react to Sri Lanka bombings that killed hundreds

The co-ordinated bomb attacks killed at least 207 people and injured 450 more on Easter Sunday

RCMP confirm witnesses say body found at Kelowna’s Gyro Beach

Police tape is blocking part of the beach and several RCMP officers are on scene.

B.C. fire department rescues kittens

Enderby homeowner not aware kittens in wood pile near garbage pile fire that got out of hand

QUIZ: How much do you know about Easter?

Take this short quiz and put your knowledge to the test

B.C. VIEWS: NDP’s lawyer show is turning into a horror movie

Court actions pile up over pipelines, car insurance, care aides

Global Affairs warns Canadians in Sri Lanka there could be more attacks

A series of bomb blasts killed at least 207 people and injured hundreds more

Waste not: Kootenay brewery leftovers feed the local food chain

Spent grains from the Trail Beer Refinery are donated to local farmers and growers, none go to waste

Deck collapses in Langley during celebration, 35 people injured

Emergency responders rushed to the Langley home

Most Read