By Tanya Bennet
FUTURE… a six letter word that when combined with “your” seems to pack a punch greater then Mike Tyson. So why is it that when uttered, these words make the average person stop dead in their tracks and automatically trigger their flight or fight response? It seems pretty straight forward that you would panic in a situation where one decision could lead you in the wrong direction, but if this is the case then why do so many people make decisions so blindly?
In most career fields there are role models to emulate and the technological field is no different from the norm. The one thing that is different, though, is the fact that for a lot of young women who are looking to explore a career in technology, resources and mentorship is limited in comparison to that of the infrastructure that exists for men. It is no surprise that the low number of women entering the field would cause a lack in infrastructure, but without creating availability to resources and mentoring for women it could remain an infinite loop situation in which without a loop counter the numbers will stay low.
For me, personally, I would not have decided to go into technology if I hadn’t had access to mentors. For starters, I was one of the lucky ones to be raised by a statistical anomaly. My mother, Karen Bennet, is a veteran of the technological world as well as one of the strongest and most determined women I know. I was taught at a young age that there is going to be scenarios in which gender inequality exists, but to combat them you just have to be three times better than the men you’re going up against so that the inequality would be too obvious for people to avoid. Having a parent in the career field you want to go into is a huge start, for sure, but having one in a field in which they are not the stereotypical norm is eye opening and empowering.
Although a lot of people come to the conclusion that I’m in the same field of technology as my mother, the truth is that our specific fields could not be more different. Still, her connections with other women in the technological field enabled me to meet my mentor, Yelena Yesha. Unfortunately, a lot of women believe that they do not have access to a simple means of finding a mentor, and, as a result, avoid technology career paths, entirely.
In addition to bloggers like us at WhatsYourTech.ca who are trying to raise tech awareness and access to information, there are organizations out there trying their hardest to create an environment that draws in and encouraging young women to enter the field. Canada’s Women in Technology, Canadian Women in Communications (CWC) and Ladies Learning Code are just some of the many organizations around. Even certain universities, like MIT, are trying something new with programs directed towards young women considering a career in Tech or Engineering. At MIT the Women’s Technology Program is a four week summer program where female high school students during the summer between grade 11 and 12 can get hands on experience in the lab and one projects in order to spark interests and encourage students to continue on to study engineering or computer science in the future.
So my advice is that if technology is something that grabs your interest take the time to learn a little more about it. If you’re pursuing the posts here you’ve taken one first step to learn more about women in technology. It’s also time to have fun with it.
If you’re a closest coder sign up for a Ladies Learning Code class; or if you’re a social media nut try starting a blog or taking a whack and developing something that you personally think is needed out there. The best part of technology is the fact that there is no “box “description of it and therefore creativity and innovation are favoured not shunned. And, above all, networking is key. It’s a way to create an informed path to the future you want so start going to events and seminars where women in the field are there to answer questions and help. The women who are successful now were once in the same position before you, so who better to ask HOW then by asking someone who has already determined all possible HOW NOTS.