Canadian coding bootcamp, Lighthouse Labs, has committed to making 2019 a year of action with the launch of a scholarship program dedicated to supporting underrepresented individuals pursuing careers in tech.
The program will run in partnership with Canadian tech companies and community organizations to pair scholarships with underrepresented individuals. I asked Jeremy Shaki, CEO of Lighthouse Labs, about how the scholarships initiative aims to help bridge the diversity gap within the Canadian tech market, and what we can expect to see from other Canadian tech firms to promote inclusion in 2019.
“The Lighthouse Labs Scholarship Program has been setup to better support and further integrate future role models for underrepresented demographics in the tech industry,” began Shaki. “Lighthouse Labs has committed $150,000 to the program and will be looking to bring on corporate partners who have strong ideas of groups of people they would like to support through scholarships. Together, we will be working with Diversity Champion Organizations who will help advise us on the best ways to put together the scholarships, help let their membership know about the opportunities, and offer up opportunities for scholarship recipients once they graduate to further make a difference with their own community of people.”
I asked Shaki about Canadian company participation in the program, and he responded, “To start, we wanted to put out our own commitment and then go after finding the right type of partners. Very early on, we have had Cogeco Peer 1 jump on board with the Jaime Leverton Scholarship for women, and First Nations Technology Council with a scholarship for indigenous students in BC.”
A more diverse tech talent pool is good for everyone: Shaki agrees. “The most important thing is that technology is a fast growing industry, which has a very promising future, and so it’s a very important time to make sure as many different types of groups and people are earning opportunities. This has both the potential to act as a great equalizer in our future worlds, but can also very quickly escalate (more so than it is now) to a great divider. Equally important is that technology inherently is about solving problems, and so the wider varieties of backgrounds, upbringings and thought we have, the more solutions will be built that are meaningful for everyone.”
When asked about Canadian business commitment to supporting diversity in tech, Shaki responded, “It’s imperative we are helping people who would normally struggle to get into technology.”
“Technology is funny because on one hand it is usable and accessible by anyone,” said Shaki. “We all love the stories of the young university dropout who creates billion dollar companies, or the high school kid that is creating stuff well beyond a teachers understanding. Yet, in terms of opportunity in jobs, every country tends to have inherent hierarchies and biases that are limiting for large swaths of the population, especially when trying to enter a field. Bootcamps are institutions that were built to allow people of different backgrounds to find new and long lasting careers in timelines that fit more of our lives.”
There continues to be bias for women in tech. In terms of what could motivate more women to work in tech, Shaki pointed out that the one factor that would have great impact would be, “A tech industry that is demonstrating a strong desire to see more women work within it.”
Visit the Lighthouse Labs Scholarship Program to learn more about how to apply.
Related: Women and Tech