On February 7th we had the opportunity to present the first ever Women in Technology Awards at the Eglinton Grand in Toronto, Ontario. Three incredible leaders in the tech sector were presented with awards that recognized their outstanding contribution to the IT sector.

Before announcing the winner, we had a chance to discuss the status of women in tech and share with the audience some of the things that ChannelNext has been doing to raise the profile of women in the industry and get more women involved.

There are few CEOs today who would not agree that two of their biggest challenges are talent and innovation. IDC estimates that by 2021, we will be short 59,000 full time employees in Canada in the tech sector. The numbers are even more staggering in the United States. There is brain crunch happening throughout North America, so the question needs to be asked…

Why are we ignoring 51% of the population?

Why is the “T” in STEM the only part of the equation declining, not growing when it comes to more women joining the sector. Why are more women leaving the sector right now than entering it?

In a survey of 900 Canadian tech firms conducted by Deloitte, women account for 5% of CEO roles and 13% of executive team positions. 53% have no female executives at all and 73% have no women on their board. This is shocking in an industry that prides itself on being nimble and ever-changing. So why is the gender imbalance so great?

Why should care about advancing women in tech?

Quite simply: a business will dramatically improve if it helps to mentor women and see them for the talent and innovation drivers that they are. If we all profile women in the industry and improve the profile of tech for women, the industry will have:

  • More access to talent
  • Create a more diverse workplace
  • Be more innovative and ultimately more competitive

That’s the “why” about why this issue matters so much to the tech industry but now here is the what we need to do.

In the last six months ChannelNext has been working hard to:

  • Launch the WIT initiative which started with blogs and podcasts and a new section on eChannelNews to profile women in the industry
  • Formed a WIT networking group that anyone can take part in
  • Developed a quiz for tech companies as part of the 50 Best Managed Surveys to see how female-friendly and women supportive they are in their business
  • Developed a half-day workshop for companies that need to improve their female-forward approach in order to capitalize on talent and innovation

And the winners are…

It was my extreme honour to present the first-ever WIT awards to three very deserving winners.

Mary Ann Yule, President of HP Canada

Mary Ann has spent 20 years in the tech sector across many parts of the sector including manufacturing, distribution and solutions provider/reseller. She works to develop leaders everyday in her role at HP. In 2019 HP was named one of Toronto’s Top Employers and is one of the most sustainable tech companies in Canada. Mary Ann sits on the board of ITAC.

Mary Ann’s goals in 2019 are to continue to be a leader for good and support her role at HP in helping to create technology that makes life better for everyone everywhere, while championing diversity, sustainability and corporate responsibility. She believes more women need to be in tech because tech is exciting, fast paced and there is lots of opportunity. Mary Ann feels more stories about women in tech need to be told and people need to see the real impact that women can have on the industry.

Elaine Meh, Intel of Canada Ltd.

Elaine has spent 18 years in the tech sector, the last 14 at Intel. A notable accomplishment is the Mentoring Advisory Council formed at Intel to help Canadian small businesses be more innovative and competitive. As part of the Women at Intel Network, she participated in workshops for girls 13-18 years old to help them hone their entrepreneurial skills and grow their interest in technology.

In 2019, her goals are to set an example and help profile and mentor more women in tech. Elaine love’s to share her experiences and wants to encourage a new generation of women to move up in the tech sector.

Iva Peric-Lightfoot, formerly of ESET Canada

Iva has spent 24 years working in the tech sector across all levels of channels, distribution, retail, VAR and vendors. She is very proud of the leading the opening of ESET Canada and building a strong and diverse team. ESET offers a Women in Cyber Security Scholarship to help young girls choose a career in IT. ESET also promotes a community called Women in the Workforce (WOW) where women are building a place to network and share skills. Iva believes a diverse workforce is key to the success of any organization as it fosters an open minded, inclusive place to work.

In 2019 her goals are to promote education which she believes is the key to advancing women in tech. She wants more women to understand the opportunities and that all are not “technical”. There is lots of room for strong business leaders and creative minds. Her message today for everyone is that diversity in the workplace is the key to success and more women need to be in tech.

Congratulations to all three outstanding women. Let’s see even more winners next year.