Women in Tech: Much More Than a Catchphrase

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“Research now clearly shows that companies with greater gender diversity, particularly those that have women on their executive teams, C-suites and boards, perform better financially because of the variety of skills and approaches their people offer.”

Source: Move the Dial, “Where’s the Dial Now?” Report, 2017.

Ada Lovelace, Grace Hopper, Hedy Lamarr (yes, that Hedy Lamarr), Katherine Johnson, Radia Perlman — any of these names ring a bell? If not, then you might want to brush up on your tech history.

From the early 19th century, when Ada Lovelace wrote algorithms that would eventually pave the way for the work of folks like Alan Turing, to ‘The Mother of the Internet’ (though, admittedly, she disapproves of that title) Radia Perlman, women have had cut a blazing trail through the world of technology. It’s safe to say that women have indeed played a critical role in shaping the tech industry as we know it today — as scientists, inventors, mathematicians, hackers, and leaders.

So, if women have played such a significant role in technology for the better part of two centuries, why is it that we see so few female tech founders and CEOs? And more to the point, what do we need to do to change that reality?

These significant, complex questions — and their multitude of answers — will be explored in depth this year at the A100’s annual tech conference, AccelerateAB, within its new Women in Tech Track. The half-day session will include keynote speakers and panel discussions featuring prominent female leaders and professionals.

In Where’s the Dial Now?, a benchmark report that examines the current state of women in the tech and innovation community in Canada, the following data points were presented:  

  • As of 2017, only 5% of Canadian tech companies have a solo female founder, and only 13% of tech companies have a female co-founder.
  • Women comprise 13% of the average tech company’s executive team, while 53% of tech companies have no female executives at all.
  • On average, only 8% of directors on boards of Canadian tech companies are women. 73% of boards have no women at all.
  • Approximately 30% of Canadian venture capital firms have a female partner, and on average, 12% of partners are women.
  • Female grads earn only 29.6% of STEM degrees in Canada.
  • In Canada, only 26.9% of employees in STEM-intensive jobs are women.  
  • The last two data points exist despite the fact that women comprised 56% of Canadian university graduates in 2010, and are projected to make up 62% in 2020, but they are still underrepresented in STEM.

While we know the tech industry in Canada has made great strides in the last 20 years, the above data shows how critical it is that we continue to support and grow women in tech and open the door for future generations of Ada Lovelaces, Grace Hoppers and Katherine Johnsons — not to mention Sheryl Sandbergs, Susan Wojcickis, and Amy Hoods.  

“At the end of the day, we’re all equal. We all deserve similar opportunities, and it’s a matter of getting to a place where we have the diversity of skills, diversity of culture and diversity of gender at the table. This will allow us to make good decisions to grow our business, grow our economy and grow ourselves. That’s the bottom line.”Michelle Scarborough, Managing Director, Strategic Investments and Women in Tech, BDC and A100 Member.

Visit the AccelerateAB website to learn more about this year’s Women in Tech Track taking place on April 15, 2019, or purchase your tickets directly here.