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techsuch May 9, 2021 0 Comments

Why Women Could Be the Alberta Tech Industry’s Secret Weapon – KoleyaKarringtenby Koleya KarringtenWhen I look around at any of the many technology and business events I attend,I’m thrilled to see an incredible number of talented, successful women from awide variety of backgrounds. Not only am I happy to see our tech ecosystembecoming more diverse because I believe it’s ethical and fair, but it gives myfaith in Alberta’s economic future a huge boost. It might sound a littlebiased, coming from a female cleantech entrepreneur – but trust me, there aresome great reasons behind why I think women’s participation in technology isthe game-changer Alberta needs.Things were a little different when I started my journey in clean technologymore than a decade ago with my company, Absolute Combustion. Sure, there werea handful of powerful female leaders in the oil and gas industry, and ascattering of successful women in our innovation ecosystem. But at everyconference I attended, I stood out by a mile. When I sat as panelist, I have ahard time recalling a woman ever taking one of the other chairs. And as ayoung entrepreneur, I felt this aloneness in a visceral way – a sense thatbecause I didn’t really see anyone like me, that maybe I didn’t really belong.“Right now is a great time to be a women in tech, but there’s not enough womenin tech.”Marissa Mayer, former CEO of YahooIn some ways, the blockchain technology industry is even further behind. Justlast year at a conference I partnered in hosting, I could count the number ofwomen on one hand. In my role as the Executive Director of the AlbertaBlockchain Consortium, I might make our corner of the ecosystem seem diverse,but according to one major study by Longhash.com, female participation in theindustry is around just 15%. The few other women and I always joke at eventsthat we’ll know we’ve finally made it when there’s a lineup for the lady’srestroom.It’s easy to see that a big gender divide still exists in tech, and there areurgent reasons why it needs to be taken seriously. I’m occasionally asked thequestion of why diversity so important, and it’s a complex topic with a lot ofnuances. Most people tend to agree that more women in technology would be agood thing, but apart from working to correct the gender gap because it’s thefair thing to do, I think there’s a lack of understanding as to just howtransformative making this leap would be for our country.A large study in 2015 by research firm McKinsey & Company came to a stunningconclusion – that if women achieved parity with men in the workforce, it wouldadd $150 billion to our GDP by just 2026. For a country with slow economicgrowth hovering around 2% a year, and lagging the other developed nations ininnovation, this would be an incredible boost to our fiscal outlook. And ourtechnology sector is one of the highest paid and quickly expanding parts ofour economy, making it a prime area to reap the benefits of gender parity.“The time is long overdue to encourage more women to dream the possibledream.”-Sheryl Sandberg, COO of FacebookI’m a strong believer in meritocracy, and I would never want to be given anopportunity purely based on my gender, and neither would most of the women Iknow. But our uneven female participation in tech isn’t caused by lack ofmerit or talent – it’s about engagement. Women need to see the opportunities,feel a sense of belonging, and be inspired to lean in to one of the mostexciting and high-growth areas of our economy.It’s not about moving unqualified people ahead because they tick boxes on adiversity checklist – but attracting brilliant, creative women into fast-growing fields that need their abilities and contributions. These talentedwomen might otherwise go into relatively crowded industries like finance,academia or medicine, but it’s our technology sector that desperately needsthem. Canada has a massive shortfall in skilled high-tech labour, and we’rewasting time and money on international recruitment when a much moresustainable solution is to tap into our hidden talent pool right here at home.Knowing what the economic cost is to our high-tech gender gap, how do werecruit more women into non-traditional fields? It’s not just aboutrecruitment from other sectors, promoting at post-secondary institutions, orincreasing the visibility of job opportunities. There’s a full life cycle ofengagement that needs to be fostered to get the results that Alberta needs,and it starts with girls.“When we invest in women and girls, we’re investing in the people who investin everybody else”Melinda GatesA few years ago, I met a woman so inspiring that I felt compelled to supporther in anyway I could. While working on my company’s technology partnershipwith the Edmonton International Airport, I was introduced to Kendra Kincade,who came into the male-dominated (and short on labor) field of aviation laterin her career. Seeing the need to start inspiring female participation at ayoung age to help close the gender gap and fill our employment shortfall, shebegan Elevate Aviation, which teaches girls about the amazing possibilitiesoffered by this non-traditional field.These are the programs that make a difference in women’s lives and will driveour economy forward. The benefits of inclusion for women and otherunderrepresented groups can be found across the full spectrum of our society,and will uplift our economy, build a stronger social fabric and help Canadastay competitive on the international stage. I’ve saved the good news forlast. When it comes to women in tech, it’s Alberta’s time to shine.We’re already leading the country in closing the gender gap in technology.Female participation in our companies is twice the national average, accordingto the Alberta Enterprise Corporation. Their landmark study, published in2019, showed that an astounding 30% of our tech firms have a female founder orco-founder. In the blockchain technology industry, where I’m a Director of theCanadian Blockchain Association for Women, I’ve seen a massive increase infemale interest and engagement over the last year.Not only are more women working in tech, but all around me, I see inspiringwomen supporting their communities and promoting our emerging companies at thehead of non-profits and innovation organizations. Technology often getsstereotyped as an industry that can be lacking in relationship development,and this is a key area where our high female participation is differentiatingus from anywhere else in Canada.Ecosystems are the crucial foundation for helping tech companies make thechallenging leap from concept to a real-world, profitable product or service.With our inspiring women leaders helping make connections, build relationshipsand create a welcoming culture, our ecosystems are the best in Canada, and thegrowth in our tech sector is showing it. I’ve made it one of my key prioritiesin 2020 to keep moving the dial on women in technology forward – let’s worktogether to make it happen.Learn more about Elevate Aviation: www.elevateaviation.caLearn more about Koleya Karringten: www.koleya.caShare This:* * *#### More News Articles

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