(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

Fraser Health reminds parents to get their kids fully vaccinated against measles

Health authority will send letters home to parents with catch-up program information

FVRL launches Cubetto’s Grand Tour across 14 libraries

Friendly wooden robot travels Fraser Valley teaching programming basics to those as young as three

Chilliwack Hospice Society gearing up for annual Hike

Funds raised at Chilliwack walk remain local to help support programs for community members

Gas prices in Metro Vancouver hit $1.72 a litre

And one analyst expects it to only go higher this week

PHOTO: Pollination time

Hyacinths attract bees looking for pollen

What’s age got to do with it? B.C. couple with 45-year gap talks happy marriage

An Armstrong couple that has 45-year age gap began turning heads after being featured on show Extreme Love.

Pug life: B.C. town boasts waggish list of dog names

Freedom-of-information request lists most ‘pupular’ dog names registered in White Rock

VIDEO: Fish farming company launches $30-million vessel to treat salmon for sea lice in B.C. waters

Freshwater treatment an improvement but fish farms should be removed from sea, says conservationist

Singh says childhood abuse steeled him for scrutiny and stress of politics

He recounts the assaults for the first time in his book Love & Courage

Despite five extra weeks’ parental leave in Canada, dads still face stigma: survey

One reason people said dads don’t need leave is because they can just bond with their kids at weekend

Spectre of Lac-Megantic raised as White Rock council calls for report on rail emergency protocol

‘I just really think we’re asleep at the switch here,’ says councillor

Vintage bottles, magic cards, a 1969 Playboy: Quirky items found in historic B.C. buildings

Crews set aside some of the funkier pieces emerging from the construction rubble

PHOTOS: Inside the ‘shoe house’ in Northern B.C.

A rare look inside the famous Kitseguecla Lake Road shoe house, with a tour led by owner Toby Walsh

Thieves steal five of Seven Dwarves ornaments honouring B.C. couple’s late son

For the second time in a year, several garden ornaments stolen from Cloverdale family’s front garden

Most Read