Take Your Seat At The Table: Closing the Gender Gap
When I was first approached to launch NPower Canada in 2014, I had some hesitations. Was I prepared to learn about workforce development, a new field for me? Would I succeed? Was I ready? Many women have likely experienced similar internal doubts; in fact, according to a Hewlett Packard internal report, men apply for a job or promotion when they only meet 60% of the qualifications, but women only apply if they meet 100% of them.
It is no wonder that women often lack the confidence needed to advance their careers, growing up in a society that has long experienced gender bias and a gender gap. In Canada, the proportion of women executive officers is only 18.2%. The lack of representation makes it more difficult for women to envision themselves in executive positions and understand what success can look like for them.
I pushed through the doubts and am incredibly proud to have helped launch NPower Canada in 2014. With a number of strong female leaders making their mark in the nonprofit sector, I have had a lot of great role models over the years. I have tried to learn from these accomplished women, both about running an organization as an executive officer, and about how to address those internal challenges and uncertainties.
According to a 2022 report by KPMG, 75% of executive women report having experienced imposter syndrome at certain points in their career, and 74% believe that their male counterparts do not experience self-doubt as often as female leaders do. Women are often let down by their lack of confidence rather than lack of ability. If I could give one piece of advice to young women, it would be to be confident and be bold. Be confident in what you do know and in acknowledging what you don’t know. Once you are comfortable in what you don’t know, you can work towards acquiring those skills.
Women at the Tech Table
Women are also underrepresented in all levels of the tech workforce, which is why it has always been important for NPower Canada to increase the representation of women in tech. According to Statistics Canada, women make up only about 23% of the tech workforce in Canada. Yet currently, we are experiencing a tech talent shortage, and women can be an important and impactful pipeline for the Canadian economy to address these labour shortages. According to a 2017 report by McKinsey & Company, increasing gender equality in the workplace could benefit the Canadian economy by as much as $150 billion by 2026.
The potential of this untapped market is why it has been a mission of NPower Canada’s to launch more women into meaningful and sustainable careers in tech. By focusing on innovation and technology for gender equality, we are looking to close the gender divide around technology, so that women have greater opportunity and can have the economic prosperity that they need and deserve.
Conclusion: Paving the Way for Women in Tech
When we launched in 2014, NPower Canada encountered various challenges in recruiting women to be a part of our training program. Without representation in the sector, many did not see tech as a viable option for them. It was difficult for them to envision what exactly a career in tech could look like. NPower Canada had to rethink how we were talking about our organization and the tech field, so that women felt like it was a welcoming opportunity in which they could be successful. Careers in tech have greatly evolved over the past eight years, and there exists a broad range and diversity of digital roles. By achieving gender parity in our programs, we have demonstrated that there is a demand and a place for women in the tech sector, which leads to economic prosperity for women and their families.
Although there may not always have been seats at the tech table for women, it has now become a much greater priority for organizations to recruit women for diversity of thought. In the digital age, every company is a tech company, and the broad range of diverse roles means there are multiple career paths available for individuals with tech skills. Women can find satisfying and interesting professional trajectories in tech, and be successful. In 2023, there is room for all at the tech table, and it is time for women to take their seats.