I was born in Windsor. I was educated in Windsor. I am employed in Windsor. And I am damn proud to be thriving in Windsor as a woman in the tech space.
Yes, you might think of me as one of the lucky ones, but I like to believe I’m not the only one that thinks Windsor is a great place for women to launch and build their careers. And so I cringe when I see recent headlines like “Windsor is the Worst Place for Women in Canada” or “Windsor has Canada’s largest pay gap for women in jobs using tech skills” that telegraphs negativity. Do we have challenges? Yes, but so do many other cities in Canada and around the world. I also have questions about the methodology and reasoning behind how those stark conclusions were reached. Is it tough being a woman in tech? Certainly. The bigger issue is what do we do about it? How can Windsor “move the dial”?
I am not an expert on diversity nor am I am an expert in research or women’s issue. I am however someone that has spent the last 10 years in the tech scene locally, provincially, nationally and internationally. So hear me out.
This is not one person or organization’s problem to solve. It’s everyone’s. We all have a role to play (big or small). So what will your role be?
I’ve summarized some ideas and thoughts on how each person and/or organization can help move the dial.
- Review Recruitment Tools, Marketing and Job Descriptions: Language matters. Website graphics matter. Interview questions matter. If you want to recruit women make sure they are represented in your marketing literature, website, executive team, and include them in your community outreach initiatives.
- Conduct a Diversity Audit: A diversity audit is a thorough review of an organization’s employment practices related to the makeup of its workers. Audits examine the workplace to ensure the organization is meeting legal requirements and fulfilling any mission that relates to diversity initiatives among its workers. Organizations either use an internal team or an external contractor to conduct the audit. A great example of a diversity audit is EDGE certification. EDGE certification has become the global standard assessment and certification methodology for gender equality. Third-party experts review an organization’s labor force data, survey employees to capture their workplace experience and perceptions surrounding it, and look at corporate policies and practices to determine the impact they have on gender equality. After a successful audit the organization is awarded one of three levels of EDGE certification, which must be renewed at regular intervals.
- Conduct a Gender Pay Gap Analysis and Make Equitable Offers
- Review your Boards and Committees: Do you have diversity? If not, how can you change your recruitment strategy?
- Familiarize yourself with other Women in Tech and their stories. Did you know that the CEO of YouTube is female (Susan Wojcicki)? How about the CEO of Linamar Corporation (Linda Hasenfratz)? There are many more great #MoveTheDial women in tech stories here.
- Learn to negotiate – Traditionally, women talk to women and men talk to men. We need to change this.
- Boost Your Confidence and Lean In – Take note from Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook “We need to encourage women to “sit at the table,” seek challenges, take risks, and pursue their goals with gusto.” Watch her Ted Talk here.
- Surround yourself with other women (and men) leaders – Some of my biggest cheerleaders have been men. A shout-out to Richard Peddie, Frank Abbruzzese, Adam Davis and my Dad!!
- Be inspired by people like Jodi Kovitz, Founder & CEO of Move The Dial, not the Kardashians.
- Champion The Pay Equity Companies
- Champion The #MovetheDial Moments and Initiatives such as Canada Learning Code coming to Windsor, Build A Dream events, Women of Windsor Art Exhibit, Technovation, the all-female rookie robotic squad that made it to the world championship (and made USA Today) and media announcements such as when St. Clair College was Ranked #1 in Canada for Female Students Enrolled in Cisco Network Certified Computer Networking Programs.
- Champion Women Leaders of all ages and cultures in Windsor-Essex and beyond such as Meighen Nehme who was named #18 top female entrepreneurs in Canada or Justine Kilby who was named Top Canadian Women In Tech by The Boardlist.
- Review your non-profit Boards and Committees: Do you have diversity? How can you change your recruiting strategy?
- Talk positivity online and offline about Windsor-Essex – The world is listening.
Parents / Teachers
- Eliminate barriers for young girls to enter careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) by bringing STEM into the classroom and career services. Here are 6 ways you can bring STEM into your Windsor-Essex classroom.
- Don’t always believe headlines “Windsor is the Worst Place For Women“. Do your own research. Talk to other women and members of the community. Learn more about promising sectors via Workforce Windsor-Essex.
- Know your own biases: We all have them but the question is how can we learn from them and make unbiased judgements and decisions.
- Make a point to check out some of the great community workshops coming up in Windsor-Essex including Go Code Girl (February 9th) and Science Society Speaker Series with Roberta Bondar (the first Canadian female austronaut).
In conclusion, I challenge everyone to be a part of the solution, not part of the problem.