Women in Tech
Our guide for any student, from any faculty to get insight on Women in Tech, and how they may engage with opportunities to explore tech in a corporate setting or through entrepreneurship. Visit our Instagram (@wil_ualberta) for more content and stay tuned for our Women in Tech event in January 2023.
"Technology is the ultimate portable career. From app development to computer forensics, cyber security to web design, the range of job roles and industries that fall under the technology umbrella is huge. A candidate with the right skill set can work for almost any company and from anywhere in the world."
- Women in Tech UK
What is tech?
Well it can mean working on the technology (developing it), working around the technology (managing it, product manager, project manager, UX Designer, in marketing, content creation or even as a subject matter expert), or it can mean working in a completely different role but for a company that sells, makes, or works on technology. See, it can get a little complicated!
Here's a quick article to get you started about the 7 Best Things About Working in Tech!
For example you can have an education degree and go work as a subject matter expert in some form, for an education technology (EdTech) company such as SMART, yes they make the smart boards and other tools!
There are also (ArtTech) companies such as gowithYamo where you can work in tech, but with an art focus.
These are just a few of the thousands of companies or examples you could come from another field that is not business or software, into tech - and learn to code or provide other value based on your education and past work experience.
Did people always know they wanted to work in tech?
Knowing you want to go into technology may be a bit different then knowing you want to be a doctor, lawyer, engineer - especially since it’s a more broad term that was previously only associated with IT jobs or coding work. We completed a survey this summer with 11 women working in tech, and found that in fact only 27.3% of our survey respondents “always knew they wanted to go into tech,” the rest stumbled upon it another way, 45.5% coming from another career field!
YOU DO NOT NEED TO CODE TO GO INTO TECHNOLOGY!
So what do I do now?
Classes, experiences, volunteer opportunities.
Classes to gain exposure to tech and see if it’s something you may like:
BTM 311 - Management Information Systems: “This class is the reason I switched my career path to technology. I felt lost at the start of the class, it was all new to me, but by the end and after asking a lot of questions to my professor about technology and the field he did a great job of explaining the options to me, and even connected me with an Alumni in California to learn more!”
CMPUT 101 - Introduction to Computing: Maybe you do want to code, or want to see what it's like? An introduction to fundamental concepts in computation, including state, abstraction, generalization, and representation. Introduction to algorithms, logic, number systems, circuits, and other topics in elementary computing science.
How university related activities could help you (this is NOT the only path, but a place you can start for some guidance):
Join clubs on campus to diversify your skills and figure out what you really love/don’t love.
Join a FLIK apprenticeship for 3 months to explore 1 or 2 companies you may be interested in (tech focused).
Consider joining students council, or your school faculty association to build up an understanding of boards, councils and governance structures.
If it’s of interest to you, but not part of your degree, consider entry level coding classes (optional, but it does not hurt to have): CodeBots (funding options could be here). Edmonton Public Library Intro Classes (free for cardholders).
Follow communities and newsletters to understand the technology landscape.
Create a LinkedIn account, share your ideas and follow and connect with technology professionals. A great page to follow, based in Calgary is Chic Geek.
Resources to Get Started
Startup and Tech:
Early stage: League of Innovators (online)
FLIK: "We are providing a platform for connection, mentorship, and support for driven women at all stages of their careers and companies."
Toast: "Our focus is on supporting women in tech. By working with Toast, yours can be too."
Clicked: "We're making career experience on demand. Come explore your possibilities."
We talked to women working in the industry right now, here is some advice they have for you!
Chealsea, ATB Bank
Senior Manager, Data Science
"Be patient - rarely do things go to plan and confining yourself to a linear pathway will shut you out of the best choices that could be off that path."
"Recommended Listens or Reads: Girl Decoded - Rana el Kaliouby; Brotopia - Emily Chang"
Advice for university students interested in technology?
"Have a specific problem to solve to fuel your learning and surround yourself with people with completely different skillsets than you. If you are highly technical, get used to being able to communicate to non-technical audience, and if you are more non-technical focused learn the best ways to communicates needs and use cases to a technical audience."
Kylie, Chic Geek
"You won't always have the answers and you will find yourself in situations that you don't know how to navigate. But trust yourself - you are a capable problem solver and a strong question asker. With those skills in your pocket, you will be able to overcome any challenge."
"Recommended Resources: Chic Geek's Career Pathing service helps connect women for conversations in tech. It builds their network and provides micro-mentoring opportunities."
What are some job positions/roles that you think need more awareness/are growing?
"Product manager, product marketing, quality assurance"
CTO (memoryKPR), Senior Software Developer II (day job)
What advice would you give to your younger self?
We need everyone in tech, but it can be hard to feel like that when you're starting. Stick with it, and find a good company or community, and then help make it more open and welcoming to others as well. And maybe try taking that one computer science class, don't be afraid of it, it might change your life.
What advice do you have for university students interested in technology?
Try it out! It's such a powerful skillset in terms of the lucrative job market, and having a lot of flexibility in terms of how you want to progress through a career. If you're interested in changing the world, there's jobs in tech that can let you do that. The barrier of feeling like you don't belong is something that you can overcome. There's great people out there who can help support you in your career journey, but it will take some effort to build that support system for yourself as you progress through university and into a career. That effort will be well worth it, in my opinion.