"It's an opportunity to be a part of something truly impactful for women in Canada; it's about connecting with community members and giving them a voice to communicate what's going on in their backyard - what unique challenges have they encountered and how can we work together to create a tailored solution for their community. Going on this tour means that I have this magnificent chance to facilitate change from the ground up...and that's everything to me. It's the trip of a lifetime."
- Melanie Ewan (Director of Community Based Research and Co-captain on this Canada-wide tour)
The Driving WinTech Journey
This fall, Women in Tech (WinTech) is conducting a Canada-wide research tour to understand and record the experiences of women in technology and to promote vibrant women in tech communities across the country.
This adventure will take us from BC to Newfoundland over a two month period. In this time we will:
- Facilitate 50 community forums across the country.
- Connect with over 10,000 people from diverse communities and sectors.
- Create and share a National Report on the experiences of women in tech in Canada (barriers, challenges, successes, resources).
- Create a set of Playbooks (regional recommendations) to facilitate more inclusive and diverse tech communities in Canada.
- Share our findings with community members and stakeholders to ensure active steps are taken as a result of Driving WinTech.
While there are smaller qualitative and quantitative studies and lots of anecdotal evidence of women's experiences in tech in Canada, no one has taken on a project of this magnitude or mandate before. Let's do this!
Who were those people in the video? In the video above, you met the co-founders of WinTech, Alicia Close and Elena Yugai, and the Director of Community Based Research, Melanie Ewan. Alicia and Melanie will be hitting the road September 1st, 2017, with Elena and other members of the team joining them along the way.
What would success look like?
Great question! Our answer is two-fold:
(1) For tech ecosystem members and stakeholders to adopt policies and programs that are informed by our findings and recommendations (i.e. the experiences of women in tech, as reported by community members), and;
(2) To create a network across Canada of organizations and people who are working to elevate women in tech.
Why is this important?
We are living in an increasingly tech-enabled world, which means that there are more and more jobs opening up in the tech sector. Problem is, while the Computer Science workforce has grown by 60% since 1991, the percentage of young women going into the industry has declined (Stats Canada 2011). And this isn't a matter of gender differences in education or interests:
As reported in Macleans, "Despite an increase in women with STEM degrees, the percentage of women working in the fields has barely changed in almost 30 years."
What's going on here?
That's precisely what we are wondering. To date, there have been no large-scale qualitative research projects conducted on the lived experiences of women in tech in Canada. What are the existing resources and services available? Are there particular gaps or barriers that they face? What kinds of tools does a community need to create more inclusive tech communities?
As women in tech, we believe that every woman should have the opportunity to succeed in the tech industry.
Change starts by understanding what is really going on and by creating opportunities and tools for women in tech to connect with each other and meet women in leadership positions. Fostering these connections is incredibly empowering, allowing women to envision new possibilities for their careers in tech.
This is why we are dedicated to increasing the knowledge of what is really going on in Canadian tech communities.
Creating change in the tech industry
The information we gather will be used to create a National Report and set of guidelines for Canada. The report will be qualitative, based on the interviews, focus groups, and community conversations that we facilitate. We will present this report to provincial and federal governments and will encourage groups to use it to launch local initiatives.
Our National Report and guidelines will:
- Bring attention to key findings from the road trip, with the aim of increasing awareness across all sectors;
- open doors for collaboration and funding opportunities for organizations in this field;
- create best practices for how to mobilize communities, duplicate existing successes, and create inclusive and diverse tech communities across Canada.
It's also important for us to celebrate and share the stories of the women and tech communities that we connect with. We plan to do this through our social media channels, blog posts, podcast and visual content. Creating a documentary from the road trip is definitely on our wish list as well!
About the Community Forums
We get that every community is different, with their own unique set of stakeholders, goals, and challenges. As such, we are creating a set of research activities that we can offer:
- Community Conversations (e.g., breakout groups discussing the current ecosystem, including gaps and ideal outcomes)
- The above + panel discussions (e.g., on current state of women in tech community, what resources and challenges exist)
- Focus Groups with industry experts and officials
Each activity will provide a unique and interactive way to dive into important questions about the challenges and experiences held by women in the tech industry.
WinTech is a truly unique organization made up of 140+ outstanding women in tech. The women leading this group are passionate and driven; they are professionals from diverse backgrounds in marketing and STEM who are dedicated to actively promoting, empowering, and celebrating women of all ages in tech.
We have organized over 22 events in seven cities across North America this year alone, and have given away $50,000 in tech scholarships to young women. We believe that by creating inclusive, collaborative, and diverse communities, we will be better equipped to take on new challenges that are thrown our way.
We count ourselves lucky to have a strong leadership team, and an extensive network of partners across Canada to support us on our mission. We couldn't do this without you!
Our Core Mission at Women in Tech
To work with communities, nationally and internationally, to define and execute actionable steps to increase the quantities of women in the technology sector, as well as the quality of roles available to these women (i.e., leadership positions).
Our Core Values:
Community – To create a vibrant and collaborative network of women who work in tech communities across Canada (e.g., through research and events).
Empowerment – To promote and provide access to mentorship and technical education, and sponsor high qualified, underrepresented tech talent.
Thought Leadership – To showcase trailblazing women, create opportunities for community discussion, and commit to ongoing reporting and tracking of data on women’s experiences.
Alicia Close, Co-Founder and CEO, WinTech
Alicia is an outstanding leader with a passion for social entrepreneurship; she has a strong background in program development and has had a blast leading the Women in Tech team. With a love for tech and analytics, Alicia drives the operational strategy and scalability for WinTech. She also happens to love running (just did her first marathon!) and pretty much every type of cheese...although, who doesn't? Follow Ali on twitter.Follow Ali on twitter.
Elena Yugai, Co-Founder and CGO, WinTech
Connecting and inspiring people comes naturally to Elena. She's well known as a strong leader in the tech community, and has made it her personal mission to build and engage WinTech’s global audiences and create an exceptional experience for WinTech’s 140+ volunteers. She is also the Head of Operations at tech startup, Contiq, and is a self-professed dog lover, foodie and all around nerd. Follow Elena on twitter.
Melanie Ewan, Program Director, Community Based Research
Writer and consultant for startups in Vancouver, Melanie (or Mel) brings a background in research and communications to the WinTech team. She is passionate in her mission to foster community and empower women to pursue their dreams. Mel is a food reviewer, travel writer, and proud aunt who's working on her pull-ups game (can almost do one!). Follow Melanie on twitter.
Five WinTech volunteers are going to drive across the country in a branded RV, starting on the west coast (Vancouver headquarters), before heading north to the Canadian territories, and then east across the country to the Maritime provinces.
We will be hitting all capital cities and major tech hubs, as well as any spots identified by our community (let us know if you want us to come to you!).
Our road trip team will be supported by a network of volunteers throughout the country, including provincial ambassadors who are plugged into the tech communities in their region.
Note: while Canada is the perfect place to start, being our home and headquarters, we intend to work with women in tech communities worldwide to identify other hubs that are keen to organize a Driving WinTech initiative.
What does the Kickstarter fund?
The biggest expense of any road trip are the hidden costs of simply being on the road. Funds raised from this Kickstarter will cover the following costs for our two-month mission:
- Power Up - Fuel to get us across the country ($2,500)
- Keep A Float - Ferry costs over the water to Newfoundland ($1,300)
- Stay Safe - CAA membership and auto insurance to ensure assistance is readily available ($3000)
- Lunch Money - Food for our volunteers on the road ($12,200)*
- Rest Up - Accommodations for our volunteers from camp sites to couch surfing to bed and breakfasts ($4,575)*
- Hot off the Press - print and facilitation resources for the tech communities we visit ($6,550)
*every effort will be made to keep costs to a minimum. We want to ensure we can focus on our mission while having enough financial flexibility for those volunteering their time to reasonably continue the two-month tour.
We are actively seeking funds from sponsors and grants to pay for the upfront vehicle costs and the costs to run the town halls and produce the National report on the Status of Women in Technology. These costs are not included in our Kickstarter goal but are referenced in the video ($50K total mentioned to get us on the road).
WinTech in the Media
- Vancouver is Awesome: The Enlightened Nerd
- Vancouver Tech Podcast: Episode 80
- Entrepreneur Roadmap Podcast: Episode 150
- Techvibes: Women in Tech Week Aims to Engage, Empower Girls to Pursue STEM Careers
- Miss 604: Women in Tech Week: Vancouver Event
- Espresso Capital: Women in Tech Week 2017
- Daily Hive: Women in Tech Week co-founder tells us what it's really like for women in tech
Stay in Touch!
Find us on Angel List
Check out our website to learn more: drivingwomenintech.com
Or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Your support and suggestions mean the world to us!
Risks and challenges
Our two key challenges are funding and people. The minimum that we need to go on this road trip is $30,000, however, that will just get us on the road. The more funding we can raise, the more communities we can visit, and the more resources we can put into creating truly impactful content. We are reaching out to past partners, setting up meetings with potential sponsors, and getting out the word on what we are doing through local events, networking, and the launch of our new website and brand.
In terms of people, this will be a huge undertaking. We are grateful to have two solid team members who can be part of the entire two-month road trip, but they will need support along the way. We are currently working with the Women in Tech Directors to define teams and conduct interviews for our volunteer positions nation-wide.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (38 days)