As the tech sector grows at an astounding pace, the need to ensure its supply of talent is critical. That’s one reason many are worried about the relatively low number of women entering some tech careers.
Women in Leadership (WIL), a non-profit that helps thousands of women across Canada develop their leadership skills through innovative programming, organized a Women in Tech Week Lunch at the BCIT Downtown campus last week to help women in tech network, as well as explore issues of advancement into leadership positions.
Hosted by BCIT Computing, the event was opened by Dr. Bethany Edmunds, Associate Dean, who emphasized the exciting future of tech: “technology offers so many tools that can solve problems, but we need to make sure we also ask the right questions.”
The future face of tech
Technology jobs are growing even while technology simultaneously is causing some – often women – to lose their livelihoods. Beyond training for new tech careers, guests were urged to consider their entire skill set. For instance, during the panel discussion, Jill Slattery, Communications Specialist at the Children’s Wish Foundation, explained the importance of “soft skills” along with hard skills. She encourages women to get out into the community and take advantage of opportunities.
Having a multi-disciplinary background, such as combining human resources and technology, opens up more career opportunities according to Shaheen Rehmat, Manager at BC Hydro. Experience has taught Semanur Gulen, Senior Cloud DevOps Engineer at GE Digital, that technology is a career that can also open up international opportunities.
Path to leadership
During the Luncheon the panel discussed the biggest challenges facing women in their leadership trajectories. Tessa Trethewey, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Semios, believes the number one skill-set of any leader is managing, attracting and retaining talent.
Lesley Duncan, CSO at Distill Analytics would like to challenge men to step past their fears of taking on female mentees in light of the #MeToo movement. “We need to establish honest and productive mentor relationships.”
“Women are leaning in and toppling over,” says Grace Lanuza, Founder and CEO of Grace Lanuza Brand Strategy and Consulting. She wants women to overcome imposter syndrome – the idea that they might not really belong – by “standing up” instead.
Innovation and digital marketing
“It is important to own your persona online,” says Jacquie McCarnan of North Van Home Sales who trains executives online. Krista Magnusson, Director of Marketing at The Answer Company agrees that it is vital to know how to communicate your brand. “It’s not about what you want your potential clients to know, but about giving them what they were looking for.”
Event sponsors included iQmetrix, BC Public Service, Demonware and Safe Software.