I am honoured and thrilled to once again be singled out by Profit magazine and its Canada’s Top 100 Women Entrepreneurs list. For the fourth year running, I take a place on this annual inventory in the esteemed company of 99 other Canadian women who are making a mark in their fields.
A scan of the list reveals a lively mix of professional pursuits: manufacturing, finance, staffing, logistics and wine. That precious few of them fall in the information technology field is not a surprise. But it continues to be a source of personal disappointment.
In spite of some important inroads made on this front in the recent past, IT remains a field that is dominated by men, and that is sorrily underpopulated by members of the opposite sex.
Over the last two decades, female participation in the tech sector has declined pitifully. Enrolment by women in tech-related programs at postsecondary institutions has gone down (National Centre for Women and Information Technology stats show that a mere 15% of Ontario computer science students in 2008/09 were women), and retention of women in the tech force has become a real problem.
Meanwhile, if you’re among the thin population holding down this female fort, you know the drill: As a woman in tech, you’re regularly the only female in the boardroom, the only female leading a team, the only female at a sales rally.
In light of this unacceptable reality, a roundup of the current state of women’s participation in IT.
• The Sultanate of Oman launched its first exclusive IT “knowledge centre” for women this week. The Women’s Community Knowledge Centre is part of a government-sponsored IT training initiative committed to developing skills across the country. By training women in these areas, an official at the announcement said, “we empower them with knowledge and by extension we help to educate their families.”
• The Association of Southeast Asian Nations Council of Women’s Organisations has passed a resolution to enhance the participation and contributions of women to the development of each country and region, including a boost to women’s involvement in business affairs, digital telecommunications development and information technology.
• A half dozen female IT employees in Malaysia were forced to resign from their jobs recently because they’re pregnant. All from different private companies, the six have filed complaints with an independent investigative bureau, the head of which has concluded that they were discriminated against with workloads that were overly challenging or not at all.