Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are essential pillars for any industry to thrive, and the tech sector is no exception. Despite some progress noted in the past years, women remain underrepresented in the industry both around the world and in Canada, with only 34% of STEM graduates in Canada being women and them making up only 23% of Canadians working in science and technology.
Recognizing the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace, Jarvis Consulting Group launched our Women in Technology Leadership event series back in 2019. As part of this women in tech event series, we host fireside chats with trailblazing women leaders from the industry and discuss the challenges and opportunities for women in tech, and the importance of DEI, while tackling relevant trending questions. Each women in tech event provides valuable insights and advice on how to improve the status of women in tech and promote equity and inclusion in the workplace, as well as advice for the women looking to launch or boost their careers.
In this article, we’ll share some key takeaways from the Spring 2023 edition of the Women in Tech event, including powerful quotes from our speakers on topics such as leadership, self-acceptance, and the importance of failure.
The Numbers Don’t Lie
Viviane Choi, VP of Cloud & Technology at Definity Financial, who was the moderator of the held Women in Tech event kicked off the discussion by highlighting the statistics of the current state of the Canadian market reflecting the lack of women in STEM-related positions. The discussion continued to highlight that this has been the case for several decades already making it obvious that it’s time for a change. Dr. Shweta Shah, Chief Data Architect at Sun Life who was one of the speakers at the event, proceeded to share one of the tactics that she found useful in her experience: in order to encourage the younger generation of women to see STEM more positively and pursue it, there needs to be a stronger representation of women in every step of the way, including the recruitment process.
“We need women to be visible,” Dr. Shah added.
For a while now it’s been noted that the industry is lacking visible female role models who reflect their accomplishments and everyday efforts. As Dr. Shweta mentioned during the discussion, when she was studying and starting her career, there were very few women in the industry and the situation is very similar today. This lack of representation can discourage women from pursuing careers in tech and can make it difficult for those who do enter the field to advance. By increasing the visibility of female leaders and creating opportunities for younger generations to learn from them, we can encourage more women to pursue STEM careers and create a more inclusive and diverse industry.
Another important topic of the discussion at the women in tech event was the importance of equity – a critical concept in promoting diversity and inclusion in the tech industry. While equality means treating everyone the same, equity recognizes that people start from different positions and require different levels of support to achieve equal outcomes. Karina Sidhu, Chief Technology Officer at Investment Management Corporation of Ontario (IMCO), and another panelist at the event emphasized how promoting equity requires taking a personal approach to leadership.
“The only way this can change is if leaders make equity a personal challenge and instead of deciding for people they start asking them what they need to be able to do the next step,” added Karina.
By embracing equity and recognizing and addressing systemic barriers, it is possible to create a more inclusive and diverse tech industry that benefits everyone.
Creating A New Normal
The concept of the “new normal” should encompass not only the changes brought by the pandemic but also the necessary changes toward achieving equity and inclusion for women in the tech industry.
In other words, creating a more inclusive tech industry requires speaking up and creating a new normal. Women in tech need to be more vocal about their experiences, challenges, and successes, and elevate each other to increase visibility and representation. By sharing their stories, women can inspire others and help create a culture of inclusivity that values diversity and celebrates differences.
Changing the normal also means challenging the status quo and advocating for systemic change in the industry, from recruitment and promotion practices to leadership and workplace culture. By speaking up and working together, we can create a more equitable and inclusive tech industry for all.
“There isn’t a single bullet to resolve this. It’s going to be a combination of all these things that come together.” added Claudia Martinez, Vice President of Pharmacy Systems at Shoppers Drug Mart, another one of the seasoned professionals who attended the spring edition of our Women in Tech event.
Advice For Younger Women In Tech
In addition to discussing ways to attract and retain women in the industry, the panelists also shared some advice they would give to their younger selves, as well as aspiring women in tech.
Cong-Rong Xie, Vice President – CIO for Individual Customer and Advisor Network at Canada Life and a speaker at the event reminded of the importance of believing in yourself, being kind to yourself, and maintaining curiosity.
The discussion continued by emphasizing that while career progression is important, it is crucial for each individual to set goals and priorities that align with their values and beliefs.
“I would advise everyone to think about what is it they want in life – career building isn’t the only success,” added Cong Rong.
This could include dedicating time to growing and supporting your family, or pursuing a hobby. Each person’s definition of success is unique, and it is essential to determine what is truly important to them. Only then can they make conscious choices and plan their life accordingly. It is time to recognize that work-life balance is not only a women’s issue, but a human issue, and everyone should be allowed to live their life according to their values and priorities.
Dr. Shweta Shah wished she knew how to self-appraise more instead of being her own biggest critic, while Karina Sidhu encouraged women to accept who they are, trust their gut, and stop judging themselves based on what others think. Claudia Martinez reminded everyone to relax, not compare themselves to others, and be kind.
Failing is an inevitable part of life, and it’s especially true when it comes to pursuing a career in tech. However, it’s important to view failure as an opportunity for growth and development. Every time you fail, you gain new knowledge and experience that can be used to make better decisions in the future. It’s also important to keep in mind that failure is not a reflection of your worth or ability. Instead, it’s a necessary step on the road to success. The most successful people in tech are those who have failed countless times but have learned from those failures and continued to move forward.
Viviane Choi summed up the spirit of the event with one simple phrase: “Fail forward!” In other words, embrace failure as a learning opportunity and use it to move forward.
As we concluded this discussion, it’s essential to acknowledge that the journey toward diversity, equity, and inclusion is a continuous process. Women have made significant strides in the tech industry, but there’s still a long way to go. It’s crucial to keep the conversation going, to keep fighting for equal opportunities, to advocate for the value of diverse perspectives, and to support women in tech. Remember that progress is not always linear, and failure is often part of the process. It’s essential to learn from setbacks, get up, and keep going. Let’s work together to create a future where women in tech are empowered to reach their full potential, and where the industry reflects the diverse world we live in!
As a Marketing Lead at Jarvis, Aida works on developing marketing projects with a strong focus on telling Jarvis’ inspiring story. She is passionate about communications in all shapes, forms, and colors.
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Jarvis is a leading IT consulting firm headquartered in Canada that provides total talent solutions with ongoing partnerships across North America’s top financial institutions, cutting-edge startups, and major technology companies.
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