A Calgary college is tackling the issue of gender equality in the tech industry by helping women train for jobs in that sector.
“It’s no secret that women are under-represented in the technology sector,” said Julie Rubin, president of InnoTech College. “We are hearing from employers that it’s a challenge to find skilled tech talent. The jobs are there but a disproportionately smaller number of our students are women. We are working to address the barriers for entry for women so that more of them can take advantage of the well-paying jobs out there in the industry. We want to help more of them get into technology and eventually make their way to executive positions.”
The college says research shows that women are less likely to study STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects at school and even less likely to make it to the executive level.
Also, according to a report by accounting firm PWC, an estimated 64 per cent of girls compared to 83 per cent of boys were taking STEM subjects through to university and careers.
“We want to ease the financial investment for young women training in technology,” said Rubin. “We also recognize that time is a cost. Not everyone can take a break from working for a long period of time to go to school. InnoTech’s specialized programs are short in length and well-suited to those who need to keep working while training. Women don’t have to put their lives on hold to get trained or be unnecessarily financially burdened. They can take full advantage of Calgary’s culture of innovation and get trained in a relatively short period of time for the jobs they want.”
Rubin explained that InnoTech College addresses two factors that may discourage women from training in technology: money and time. The college is making its training more financially accessible to women with the creation of the InnoTech Young Women in Technology Bursary. The bursary reduces tuition costs at the college by 50 per cent for qualified applicants.
InnoTech College opened its doors in 2016 and has developed seven technology programs suitable for those with no prior technical or computing experience, as well as those looking to expand or update their skills. The programs range from an eight-month diploma program, to short certification courses of just five days.
Some of the courses offered are Big Data Science, Sharepoint Specialization, Cloud Architecture, Cloud Security and Web Development. It partners with global curriculum provider Arcitura, Silicon Valley curriculum contributors, local industry experts and employers.
Mario Toneguzzi is a veteran Calgary-based journalist who worked for 35 years for the Calgary Herald, including 12 years as a senior business writer.