As Operations Manager at Startup Edmonton, I interact with founders and team members from dozens of tech startup companies. Every day, I’m reminded that our community is friendly, welcoming, and respectful. It’s a culture that members work hard to create, and I’m proud of what we’ve made together.
This week we’re celebrating International Women’s Day! It’s a perfect chance to reflect on why celebrating success matters, how we can all pitch in to break down even more barriers, and connect with more members of our startup, STEM, and entrepreneur communities.
The week is made even more amazing by the release of Captain Marvel. Captain Marvel is my favourite superhero in any universe. She’s Earth’s Mightiest Avenger, and that means she can provide strength, guidance, and leadership to all the other Avengers. That’s what I see so many of the female founders in our community do every day: they rise to the top and then bring along the next generation of women leaders with their advice and mentorship. I’m excited to see her in action on the big screen on Thursday night with so many of my lady friends from the startup community!
Did you know Alberta tech startups are twice as likely to have a female founder than the Canadian average?
According to a recent article published by The Metro Calgary, 30 per cent of tech companies in Alberta have a female founder or co-founder, compared to only 13 per cent nationwide. As a member of a gender-diverse team that supports tech entrepreneurs, I’m thrilled to share this news.
As impressive as these statistics are, however, there is still so much work to be done to close the country’s growing digital divide. In Canada, women continue to be underrepresented in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), with only one third of STEM graduates identifying as female.
There are many factors influencing a woman’s decision to pursue and stick with a career in STEM, but one of the most important (and most unfortunate!) is a lack of confidence. From a young age, gender stereotypes and unconscious biases teach girls that these fields are not for them. And for those women that do pursue a career in STEM, they are less likely to apply for top positions or to receive awards for their work.
This International Women’s Day I encourage you to keep Alberta’s momentum alive through the themes of #BalanceForBetter and #InnovateForChange. Do you know a female who is making waves in the tech industry? Celebrate her. Shout her name from the rooftops. Are you one of these women? Proudly share your achievements with the world — young girls need female role models like you.
Here are some of the events taking place in March that can help spark your conversations and deepen your commitment to inclusion in your own work.
WIC CAREER PANEL NIGHT @ DEWEYS | MARCH 5
UAlberta Working for Inclusion in Chemistry and the Chemical Institute of Canada Edmonton section has planned an evening of informal discussions. Learn more about careers outside academia with this impressive all-female panel.
Christina Gonzalez, Research Scientist at Applied Quantum Materials
Ronda Gras, Associate R&D Scientist at Dow Canada
Shoma Sinha, Sr. Advisor in Advance Technologies at Government of Alberta
BREAKING BARRIERS – A JUMP EVENT @ JOBBER | MARCH 6
Jobber employees will tackle the importance of working in an inclusive working environment, what they’re doing to challenge the stereotype of working in technology, and the importance of creating advocates and building awareness about bias.
The event is part of JUMP — a series of events launched by Jobber with the intent to help post-secondary students bridge the gap between curriculum and career. Masters students and recent grads are also welcome.
ENGGTALK 2019 – DIVERSITY & INCLUSION IN ENGINEERING @ UNIVERSITY OF ALBERTA | MARCH 7
This year’s EnggTALK happened to coincide with International Women’s Day 2019, so the Faculty of Engineering Young Alumni Council decided to theme the speaker series in support of IWD 2019’s #BalanceforBetter campaign. The event will feature presentations from seven young, female engineering alumni.
Meghana Valupadas – Diversity and the Power of the Team
Jillian Tkachuk – #MeToo in Corporate Canada: Let's Change the Story
Carille Mendoza – Wins and Losses as a Triple Minority
Meagan Gebers – My Roller Coaster Ride in the Construction Industry
Leanne Stinn – Revitalization of the Stanley A. Milner Library: An Empowering Journey
Julie Kim – Respect, Disrespect and Self-Respect
Jessica Vandenberghe – What You Need to Know about being a Mid-Career Indigenous Female Mother, Daughter, Engineer and Girlfriend
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY CELEBRATION @ NORQUEST COLLEGE | MARCH 8
NorQuest College is celebrating International Women’s Day with hot chocolate, creative stations and inspirational speeches by a diverse group of female leaders.
Dr. Jodi L. Abbott, President and CEO at NorQuest College
Wedad Amiri, Founder and CEO at Afflatus Hijab
Catharine Vu, Owner at Pro-Active IT Management Inc.
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY @ CITY HALL | MARCH 8
Edmonton’s Women’s Initiative has planned an exciting, informative and interesting program to help celebrate girls and women and International Women’s Day. The theme this year is Balance for the Better.
Greetings from Edmonton's City Council
Talk by keynote speaker Dr. Wanda Costen (Dean, School of Business at MacEwan University)
Presentation of the Women’s Initiative Leadership Award
Artistic performances and displays showcasing many women’s initiatives and resources
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY: BALANCE FOR BETTER NETWORKING EVENT @ STANTEC | MARCH 8
A special panel titled “Global Perspectives on Advancing Gender Diversity” will explore the diversity journeys of three countries — Sweden, the United Kingdom and Canada — to address how we can champion progress for women as progress for all.
Kristina Williams, CEO at Alberta Enterprise Corporation; Consulate of Sweden, Edmonton & Northern Alberta
Caroline Saunders, British Consul General
Erin Davis, Director of Global Talent Engagement at Stantec
CELEBRATING PI DAY: SPEED NETWORKING @ U OF A | MARCH 14
The WiSER (Women in Science, Engineering and Research) Network has brought together an impressive list of accomplished professionals for this speed networking event. To ensure attendees get the most out of the experience, WiSER will send out tips on how to prepare for a speed networking event and how to effectively maintain relations with new connections, prior to the event.
NETWORKING 101 & INDUSTRY SPEED DATING @ UNIVERSITY OF ALBERTA | MARCH 14
Connect with companies like Jobber, DrugBank and Amii to discover what it’s like to work at a startup and learn about any open positions. Not sure how to network? Need a refresher? Ada's Team is hosting "Networking 101" right before the speed dating event.
The fun doesn’t have to stop there!
Achieving balance in STEM is an ongoing effort. From ongoing meetups to upcoming events, here are a few ways to keep the conversation going in the month ahead:
·Join Women in Games Edmonton on March 12 for their monthly meetup
Join Girls Learning Code on March 17, as they animate from Scratch (a beginner level programming environment)
Register for the first Women in Tech Stream at AccelerateAB — Alberta’s flagship technology conference — in Calgary on April 16