Alberta’s growing technology sector is struggling to find skilled talent, yet at a time when companies need employees trained in technology, research suggests females 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. InnoTech College is working to reverse this trend by making technology education and jobs more accessible to women.
“It’s no secret that women are under-represented in the technology sector,” says 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.”
According to a report by accounting firm PWC, an estimated 64% of girls compared to 83% of boys were taking STEM subjects through to university and careers. 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% for qualified applicants.
“We want to ease the financial investment for young women training in technology,” says 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 that 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.”
Kayla Shimbashi is taking InnoTech’s six-month Web Development course. She plans to continue adding to her skill set a Digital Marketing program as wekk. “I like that I can get a diploma in a short amount of time and that I’ve been able to continue working while taking the course.” says Shimbashi. “The tech industry offers flexibility in employment that can be beneficial to women. Many bloggers for example are women and they can benefit from this kind of training.”
Julie Rubin sees the tech and innovation sector as a place where Calgary women can forge their own path. She notes that tech is a sector that has a reputation for flexible company cultures. “That same kind of flexibility has been built into InnoTech’s programs,” Rubin says. “If we can remove some of the barriers to training, that will go a long way to bringing gender equality to the tech industry.”
On August 28, 2018 Julie Rubin talks to CTV Alberta Prime Time about the Gender Gap in STEM Jobs: