Women in Tech Week co-founder tells us what it's really like for women in tech

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DH Vancouver Staff Feb 15, 2017 5:04 pm 475

It’s time to celebrate women in tech – and the Women in Leadership Foundation agrees.

The Women in Leadership Foundation has organized Women in Tech Week (WinTech) to push boundaries in the tech industry for the second year in a row. Local tech communities will come together to provide professional development, education, and mentorship for women in tech, as well as encourage young women to consider science and technology careers.

We’ve talked to Alicia Close, the co-founder and executive chair of Women in Tech Week, to see what challenges face women in tech today.

What is the biggest barrier facing women in tech today?

Self advocacy. The truth is self advocacy is hard. As women, we tend to put other’s interests before our own and struggle to stand up for what is best for ourselves.  It is important to believe in yourself as this confidence will resonate in  your communication and interactions. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses allows you to have those “difficult” conversations: asking for your next promotion, stepping into that leadership position, making your insights heard and taking risks. Self advocating is what creates opportunities – I challenge you to push those boundaries and leap outside your comfort zone.

What is the biggest misconception people have about the tech industry?

You have to know how to code to be in tech. There are tons of opportunities in the tech industry – from product management to corporate development to customer success – that don’t require you to be an engineer. The number one skill-set is being able to learn quickly and wear multiple hats, especially when working for a start-up.

What advice would you give women wanting to go into tech?

The tech industry is a mindset. In order to succeed, you need to trust your instincts, be entrepreneurial, be open to new ideas, accept feedback, even negative, focus on constant improvement, and never settle for a routine and status quo.

Why did you start Women in Tech Week? What was your goal?

Women in Tech Week started in 2016 with eight people and eight weeks to prepare. This lead to a nation-wide movement with 14 events in five Canadian cities, five trailblazing women recognized for their contributions, and $7,500 in tech scholarships. My co-founder Elena Yugai and I both work in tech, so we approached this non-profit with the same mindset: scalable, high impact through building relationships and establishing partnerships with local tech communities in Canada.

What kind of results have you seen?

Within one year, we are now a North American movement with satellite events in the USA. We received outpouring support from tech companies, educational institutions, non-profits and government agencies including Microsoft, Demonware, Shopify, iQmetrix, BC Tech Association and the Management of Technology MBA at the Beedie School of Business. We established strategic partnerships with BrainStation, Lighthouse Labs and RED Academy to launch scholarships for women looking to enter the tech industry and for employers looking to attract, train, retain, and promote women in their organizations.

Where do you see WinTech going from here?

We have big plans for the future. Our mandate is to continue supporting and training professional women though leadership training and tech scholarships, to work with employers, and to provide a platform for women-led businesses.

How can people or organizations support women in tech generally, or your initiative specifically?

There are many ways to get involved, including volunteering, attending events, following us on social media (@wintechworld), sharing information to your network, and starting conversations with your colleagues and leadership on your teams.


WinTech is going on from February 27 to March 3, with a bunch of different events available to participants.

You can register for events individually, or you can register for a week pass which will get you into all WinTech events. Until February 15, you can get the week pass for only $149, so you’ll want to make sure you register early.

For more information on WinTech, check them out on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Make sure you use #WinTech when you’re posting about the event on social media.

WinTech

When: February 27 to March 3
Where: Various locations around Vancouver
Price: Varies by event. Get details online

Daily Hive is a proud media sponsor of Women in Tech Week


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DH Vancouver Staff
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