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Talks launched in bid to boost number of women in STEM


April 11, 2017  


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Istuary Innovation Group has kicked off the first of a series of talks, Make the Change: Women in STEM, focused on creating opportunities and efforts to build a more diverse, inclusive workforce in Canada.

The first talk, held last week, was in collaboration with the University of British Columbia, featuring academic Professor Elizabeth Croft, renowned for increasing the percentage of female students entering first year engineering at UBC to 30% from 20% during her tenure as NSERC Chair for Women in Science and Engineering.

Research presented by Professor Croft covering women in STEM professions indicates only 12% of hires in computing and engineering were women as of 2013.

“One of the biggest challenges for attracting women, in my experience, is in building their confidence,” said Croft, associate dean for education and professional development at UBC. “This can be done by creating a welcoming environment and addressing their feelings of ‘imposteritis,’ that is, feeling like an imposter no matter how successful or established one is.”

Markham, Ont.-based Istuary, which bills itself as “Canada’s largest incubation technology platform,” grew from zero women hires when it first started in 2013 to 20% in less than three years.

Jean Su, Vice President of Engineering, Innovation Labs, who also spoke today, was the first female software developer hired at the company a year and a half ago. Underrepresentation of women led Istuary to make significant strides to increase the number of women with backgrounds from mechanical engineering to software development and computer design.

“I developed my career in a heavily male-dominated industry but I saw it more as an opportunity,” said Su. “I studied in Canada at UBC then worked in China, where my female colleagues are expected to work for a few years then leave and have a family. Canada is more advanced in providing huge opportunities for women, but it needs to be better. From a business perspective, it just makes logical sense.”

Istuary says it will host Make the Change: Women in STEM Talks regularly.