Vancouver’s tech industry is growing rapidly and with that growth comes the increase of job opportunities in the city.
However, the tech industry is one that is predominantly male dominated. In fact, a report from Catalyst Canada, an organization focusing on helping women find opportunities in business, found that more than 53 per cent of women who started in the tech sector after receiving their master’s degree in business administration would leave their job for another industry.
With the low number of women deciding to remain in the tech industry, this also means a lack of female mentors for women starting to work new tech oriented jobs.
The study also revealed that women with MBAs were less likely to have a female supervisor in various tech sectors (15%) in comparison to other job industries (21%).
Moreover, in comparison to men, women in the tech industry are twice as likely to report a lack of role models with the same gender as a barrier to their advancement in the field.
This does not necessarily mean that women are solely looking for women mentors. However, the presence of a work place without any female mentors can be difficult, especially for women who are new to the tech industry and looking for guidance regarding how to advance in a male dominated sector.
Women in Communications and Technology (WCT) is a Canadian organization that works to engage and advance women who have careers in communications, digital media and technology across the country.
The organization provides opportunities for women to advance in these fields through programs, scholarships, mentorships and events.
Wendy Turnbull, the chair of B.C’s WCT chapter gave insight into the involvement of women in the tech industry, stating, “It’s an encouraging sign to see examples of tech companies being founded, funded, developed and marketed by women. But while women have made great strides in the workplace, there is still significant room to improve the lingering perception of ‘women in tech.'”
Turnbull has a background in marketing and brand development, working with everything from sport drinks to video games. Currently she works as the Marketing Manager for the B.C. Technology Industry Association (BCTIA).
For Turnbull, “marketing is about telling a story, and getting others to invest themselves in that story, and in B.C. there’s really no better story than the tech industry.”
Sarah Gooding, the Director of Communications for WCT also works as the head of the public relations team at Vancouver based dating service Plenty of Fish.
Gooding came across the tech industry simply by chance. Ironically, she met Markus Frind, the CEO of Plenty of Fish, at a wedding. She explains that she was curious and the timing was right, so the cards aligned perfectly for her in terms of getting involved in the tech field.
For Gooding, the Vancouver tech industry is one where women can find a lot of potential to grow professionally.
“The community of Vancouver women in tech is small but growing. Every time I attend an event, I’m inspired by the number of bright, entrepreneurial women in the room, who are solving big problems and genuinely want to help other women do the same. There is a real sense of community and an attitude of ‘how can I help you?’, rather than ‘how can you help me?’. It’s infectious.”
For women looking to be part of Vancouver’s tech industry, Gooding says to get involved in the tech community.
“There are numerous events and meet ups taking place every month. Talk to people, ask questions, follow-up on potential opportunities. More importantly, treat every conversation, like it’s a job interview. You never know where your next opportunity will come from,” she says.
One way to get involved in the growing female tech community is by attending a monthly event series put on by the WCT called ‘Unwine’d’ where women in Vancouver’s tech and media industries can engage in great conversation and network over a glass of wine. The next ‘Unwine’d’ event takes place tomorrow at Grain Tasting Bar. Visit the event website to learn more details and purchase a ticket to attend.