More diversity needed in B.C.’s tech sector, says female executive
By: Chuck Chiang
An executive with a Vancouver-based technology company says the sector’s diversity, especially when it comes to the number of women in upper management, leaves much to be desired.
Jean Su, vice-president of engineering at Istuary Innovation Group, said that B.C.’s resurgent tech industry has to be more proactive in promoting women within its ranks.
“I would say we can do better,” said Su, a 16-year veteran in software development who moved to Vancouver from Taiwan in 1995. “Because, right now, I’ve been through two companies in B.C., and I would say it’s better than what I saw in Asia, but we can do better.”
Diversity in the sector was a major theme last month at the B.C. Tech Summit, where Premier Christy Clark highlighted efforts to train schoolchildren of both sexes in computer coding to build the province into an innovation hub.
Canadian figures put the percentage of women in the science, technology, engineering and math sector at just 22 per cent, and the situation isn’t much better in Vancouver.
Natalie Cartwright, co-founder and COO of Vancouver-based banking assistant software developer Finn.ai and a speaker at the summit, has said that local companies have to proactively work on gender diversity, since the culture of the industry discourages many women from entering.
With a lack of entry-level candidates, it also limits the talent pool from which companies can select, even if they are willing to diversify their middle and upper management, Cartwright said.
“It’s a complicated issue,” she said. “We hope to see a lot more females in this space, and there’s every indication there should be more women in this space. It would be great for the economy, and I challenge women to lean in. I challenge companies to think about ways to encourage women to get in. And I challenge organizations to work with startups to find ways to step up.”
Su said Istuary has plans to have half of its upper-management positions go to women within the next two years. She is reaching into areas such as product and market development and user interfacing, where female workers are already strong, and exposing them to other groups like engineering and software development.
The Istuary executive also understands the main challenge facing many women in the workplace: the issue of work-life balance, which needs to be faced by families and companies, not just women.
“I’m very lucky to have the support of my family,” said Su, who has a young child at home. “At work, we have to be able to focus on work. That’s how you excel. That’s why we stress support of the family and the company. As an employer, you have to look at things like being flexible in terms of work schedules, and you have to focus on the outcomes and the results, rather than the hours.”
Read the full article here: http://vancouversun.com/business/local-business/more-diversity-needed-in-b-c-s-tech-sector-says-female-executive