Windsor

How to attract more women to tech sector, leadership roles

As a woman starting out in the tech industry, Sarah Roddy said it was discouraging and lonely without anyone to relate to and found her opinions weren't always taken seriously.

About 16 per cent of small and medium enterprises in Canada are run by women, according to the feds

Sarah Roddy runs a franchise tech business in Windsor, and said the road getting to that point wasn't easy. (Jason Viau/CBC)

As a woman starting out in the tech industry, Sarah Roddy said circumstances were discouraging.

"It became kind of lonely. I didn't have a whole lot of people to relate with and my perspective wasn't always seen as the norm, I guess," she said.

When she went to the University of Windsor to obtain a computer science degree, she was one of the only women in her classes. After she graduated and started working as a data analyst, that trend remained the same.

Few women-owned businesses across Canada

Technology is meant for everyone and everyone should be giving their input, not just men.- Sarah Roddy, local tech entrepreneur 

It's something that's playing out across Canada, where about 16 per cent of small and medium enterprises in Canada are majority-owned by women, according to the federal government. And that's even less in Windsor where the number is approximately three per cent.

"Technology is meant for everyone and everyone should be giving their input, not just men," said Roddy, who now runs the local tech franchise Getinthe Loop — an app that connects businesses with consumers.

Role models needed

Running her own business in the tech industry as a woman is "empowering" for Roddy, and allows her to be a role model too.

Yvonne Pilon with WETech Alliance said entrepreneurs like Roddy are necessary to attract more women in the tech sector, and eventually into leadership roles.

"We need women to help be a part of developing the technology of the future, because if we're not, we're leaving out a really important demographic and point of view when it comes to developing products or services," said Pilon.

Yvonne Pilon with WETech Alliance said there's momentum building in Windsor when it comes to getting women into the tech sector and leadership roles. (Jason Viau/CBC)

Pilon said a federal government grant with the hopes of doubling the number of women-owned businesses by 2025 across Canada will help. Windsor is getting nearly $700,000 from that initiative, funnelled through the Windsor-Essex Economic Development Corporation.

Momentum building in Windsor

There are a number of things already happening to boost women in tech, including a Canada Learning Code chapter in Windsor getting women and girls interested in coding. There's also a Women in Cybersecurity community at the University of Windsor. And for the first time, WETech Alliance is handing out a 'Women in Tech' award.

There's also a Ladies Learning Code event coming to Windsor on Sept. 24.

"There's a lot of momentum building on this and I think this grant will just be another piece of this overall puzzle to again help collide and introduce women to not only entrepreneurship, but technology," said Pilon.

About the Author

Jason Viau is a video journalist, TV host and radio newsreader at CBC Windsor. He was born in North Bay, but has lived in Windsor for most of his life. Since graduating from St. Clair College, he's worked in print, TV and radio. Email him at jason.viau@cbc.ca

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