Virtual meetups encourage women in tech
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This article was published 08/02/2021 (771 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Three Manitoba tech non-profits are working together to retain, encourage and inspire women in tech via virtual meetings once a month.
The Manitoba Women in Tech meetup group held its official launch in January, with close to 100 women in attendance. It’s organized by women from Tech Manitoba, New Media Manitoba and North Forge Technology Exchange.
Kay Gardiner, the chief executive officer of Tech Manitoba, said the free meetings on the third Wednesday of the month are intended as a networking opportunity for women, to support and retain women in their careers and improve the local tech industry’s overall health.
“Women in the tech sector are interested in getting together, to talk about their careers, pathways and job opportunities,” she said, adding that while there have been groups already addressing the issues, this is the first time everyone has been brought together under one umbrella.
“Women are often in the minority in their place of work. They also want to see more women hired, or they want to share advice on what career path to take,” Gardiner, a River Heights resident, said.
Through research with Tech Manitoba’s Gender Parity Scorecard, funded by Women and Gender Equality Canada, they identified a need in the community for a networking group that brought together women from varied technology career paths.
“We know that the reality in Canada is that only 25 per cent of tech workers are women, which doesn’t represent Canada’s population,” Gardiner said. “We need to encourage more women to see themselves in careers in tech, and to help them retain those careers.”
She expects more women to become interested in careers in technology, as other sectors of employment shut down, partly due to the pandemic. “For example, if hotels and airlines continue to suffer and lay off people, there’s an opportunity for them to re-skill themselves in the tech industry.”
Juliet Greenberg, the membership and community manager at New Media Manitoba, said the upcoming Feb. 17 virtual meeting will feature speaker Sheila Harris, who will share mentorship stories about her experiences working in tech. “She can really help women relate to what’s she’s been through,” Greenberg said.
“We use ‘tables’ where women can virtually sit and talk with other women,” Greenberg said, adding the meetings use the Remo web platform that allows women to move around as if they were at an in-person event.
The group has recruited and trained ambassadors to help women support other women, Greenberg said. “The great part about being virtual is that women can join in from all over the province. They don’t have to drive downtown and find parking. They can join in from wherever they are, put their feet up and enjoy the discussions,” she said.
The group, which now numbers over 400 women and a few men, sees everything from students to older women who have been working in tech and who have seen how it has changed over the past couple of decades, Greenberg said.
“The feedback we’re getting is that women really enjoy this. They might be the only woman working in tech at their company, or they might have a boss or co-worker who doesn’t value them,” she said. “This group, for me personally, is a way to remind women how great they are.”
The membership is open to men as well, she added. “We’d love to see more men join, to give them a view into the female mindset when working in tech.”
For more information on the MBWiTech virtual meetings, see www.meetup.com/Manitoba-Women-In-Tech/