As times change and resources are consumed at rapid rates, we begin to realize that growth cannot continue indefinitely and the way that we carry out our daily live is unsustainable.
It’s a global problem, a problem that impacts many aspects of our lives (including energy, environment, health, politics, education, jobs and the economy) which will require new shape-changing perspectives to resolve. Women offer fresh perspectives and unique contributions that will benefit society as a whole.
Women are an important source of economic growth as investors and entrepreneurs. Although increasing in numbers, women still represent the minority of all entrepreneurs often due to gender-based barriers which create false expectations and misconceptions. However, many women are rising above the glass-ceiling that has once limited their careers, by becoming owners of their own businesses. Women entrepreneurs not only create jobs but also provide society with different approaches to management, organization and problem-solving.
As business converges with technology, it is inevitable that women will also become more visible in technology-based start-ups and enterprises. I’ve heard of many women who have found their way to computer science as a secondary focus usually through another area of study, often life sciences and then information technology as a “backup” career choice. The percentage of women majoring in computer science is very low typically around 10%. Low enrollment is not due to the lack of ability but rather rooted in perceptions that do not yet match reality. Last weekend, I attended the Technovation Kickoff event in Burnaby. The Technovation challenge is a competition and mentorship program that teaches young girls to build mobile apps and their own businesses. I listened to stories from a panel of successful leaders and entrepreneurs in the high tech world which consisted of professors, CEOs, executives and founders of who also found their way to information technology through serendipity. It’s evident that women are well- suited for these careers and should be encouraged to pursue these avenues.
I’ve come to realize through my experiences that in order to change stereotypes and to encourage participation, it is important to have strong role models as well as outreach initiatives and advocacy. This is the reason why I have been actively involved on the Board of Directors for a women’s professional group, the Society for Canadian Women in Science and Technology (SCWIST). SCWIST engages and encourages girls and young women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to improve attitudes and participation in a field. Empowering women as economic as well as social and political leaders will create more representative and effective institutions.
About the Author:
Julie Wong, PhD, or Dr. J when she’s blogging received her PhD from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of British Columbia (UBC). She’s always been fascinated by experimentation and deductive reasoning from a young age, building pin-hole cameras, soda bottle rockets and making “healing potions” from rocks and tree branches, Julie always knew that she would be destined for a career in science. She’s currently working in an innovative organization, The Centre for Drug Research and Development where pre-clinical health research can be evaluated and optimally developed to address areas of high unmet medical need.