There has never been a better time for women to join the tech industry. Startups are hiring, hours are flexible, and women have the chance to excel.

In celebration of International Women's Day, Montreal NewTech held a celebration of women in technology on March 8. The event featured seven startup demos from different women, all of whom made a name for themselves in the tech industry, and many of whom are hiring.

But many women aren't applying for jobs in tech, even if they're qualified for the position.

According to a 2015 survey by Statistics Canada, women are still underrepresented in the science and technology sectors. Of the 1,365,800 people working in professional, scientific, and technical services in Canada, 587,100 are women while 778,700 are men.

'It's all about the work' 

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Deborah Kilpatrick gives a talk at the Shopify office for Montreal NewTech on International Women's Day, Tuesday, March 8, 2016. (Claire Loewen)

This shouldn't be a deterrent from working in technology, according to Deborah Kilpatrick, VP marketing and co-founder of successful digital marketing company SourceKnowledge.

"In my experience in the last 15 years working in tech, whether you're male or female it doesn't matter," Kilpatrick said. "It's all about the work."

SourceKnowledge only has two women on its board of directors.

"The thing that's really missing here is that we need more women," Kilpatrick said. "We have not a single woman on our [development] team, and [development] makes up half our company. Not one woman has ever submitted her CV to our dev department."

Apparently, women should be applying to tech companies – and companies should want more female employees.

A study of Fortune 500 companies by Catalyst looked at 520 firms with high and low percentages of women on their board of directors.

The study, conducted between 2001 and 2004, showed that companies with greater representation of women on their board of directors did better financially than those with less female representation, on average.

It also found that, on average, Fortune 500 companies with three or more women board directors had a stronger performance than average.

Balancing work and family

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Marie Philip Simard explains her online clothing rental company for Montreal NewTech on International Women's Day, Tuesday, March 8, 2016. (Claire Loewen)

The reasons for women to join tech startups don't stop there. Jobs in tech often mean more flexible hours, and more ability to balance work and family. Kilpatrick was one of at least three women presenting at the Montreal NewTech event who has children.

"Women are the primary caregivers," Kilpatrick said. "Tech companies are great for women, they're flexible. I have two kids, I'm busy all the time running between the house and the office."

Nathalie Delausnay, founder and COO of website-creating app Tylio, is a mother of three. Founder of grocery delivery service CookIt, Judith Fetzer, was at the event with her infant child.

Qualified, but not recognized

Research has shown that more and more women are qualified to work in the tech industry. A study conducted by PeerJ Preprints revealed that women's submissions to an open source software community were accepted more often than men's, but only when gender was not a factor.

 "If you're not being appreciated, you need to find a place where you will be, where that will change." - Deborah Kilpatrick, co-founder of SourceKnowledge

When the employer knows the applicant is a woman, she is rejected more often, regardless of her coding skills. This could be why many aren't applying for jobs in tech.

"We have all these women graduating from computer science, or computer engineering. How come women aren't applying as developers? It's a great job," Kilpatrick said.

She added that asking to be paid for the work that you do should not be something women are patronized for.

"If you're doing really good work, and it's not being recognized, some women I have known will just say they don't want to ripple, they don't want to rock the boat. If you're not being appreciated, you need to find a place where you will be, where that will change."