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Wake-up call: Women in Canada agree that tech companies still have a reputation problem

TORONTO: Despite recent efforts by technology companies to improve gender equality and parity in the workplace, studies show that an increasing number of women in Canada feel the negative reputation of the tech industry is still reality.

Nearly half (43 per cent) of female students and young professionals recently polled don't believe tech companies really want to hire women. This is according to a survey by Maru/Blue, on behalf of SAP Canada, on the perceptions of the tech sector and STEM careers among this group.

Young women are hesitating on even considering a career in technology because they don't believe technology companies sincerely want to give them a chance, said Kim Gastle, Vice President, SAP Canada. We want to shine a light on this issue and raise this concern because we recognize that a well-rounded work force brings together stronger ideas. When we have diversity in our teams, we can reflect our customers better, come up with a greater mix of ideas and spur innovation. A career in technology can provide many opportunities and anyone should be able to benefit from this.

The study further showed that only 35 per cent of women who have chosen an area of focus have chosen STEM for future studies and/or their career, and of those a third (34 per cent) don't have a female role model in the field suggesting that more can be done to create a path for students interested in employment opportunities in the tech space.

The survey identifies other factors that give pause including:

Over half (54 per cent) of those polled say that technology companies have a bad reputation when it comes to gender equality
43 per cent of women in Canada feel tech companies don't really want to hire women
48 per cent of women don't know how to develop the skills required for a career in tech

The results of this study are proof that while the tech sector has made strides advocating for increased diversity, more work still needs to be done creating environments where women feel valued and represented, said Jodi Kovitz, CEO, #movethedial. If we do not take the time to thoughtfully engage and retain women in tech, we risk creating tech solutions and ecosystems that cater to a single homogenous group. It is imperative that we illustrate to young women that tech is for them, they can excel in it and that their contributions are an integral part of the industry's continued success.

The survey also highlighted regional differences in the perceptions of STEM programs and tech companies from young women across the country. Of the respondents who opted not to pursue a career in STEM, 46 per cent of women in Manitoba and Saskatchewan made the choice because they don't believe they have the skills for the field, while only 16 per cent of Quebecois respondents shared the same sentiment. According to the study, British Columbia is leading the charge of women in STEM fields; STEM students in BC are most likely to have fellow female STEM classmates, while Ontario is the least likely to.

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Wake-up call: Women in Canada agree that tech companies still have a reputation problem


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