For the past several months I’ve been writing and consulting for an organization I admire greatly. Canadian Women in Technology, also known as CanWIT, is Canada’s premier national grassroots organization dedicated to promoting tech careers for women.
And it’s an organization facing a huge challenge – one that may surprise you a much as it did me.
- Canadian women make up only 25% of the technology workforce, with only a small number hold management positions.
- A staggering 52% of these highly trained and qualified women will leave their jobs after only 10 years. This doesn’t bode well for young women considering careers in technology.
- 38% of women hold leadership roles in Canada, yet only 16% hold leadership roles in the corporate sector (compared with 59% in the education sector and 37% in government agencies);
- 37% of Boards of Directors and 17% of Senior Management Teams have no female representation in the corporate sector.
CanWIT has risen to the challenge, and with the support of Status of Women Canada has developed an online eMentorship program to bring seasoned professionals together with young women to nurture, encourage and inspire. CanWIT believes that mentorship matters, and can help turn these stats around, by encouraging the participation and advancement of females in tech.
As a woman who’s been a tech PR professional for more than 30 (!) years, I can really appreciate the value of mentorship, I like the online aspect, and I’ve been honoured to help contribute to its ongoing success.
But, you know…I haven’t done enough. I haven’t mentored anyone.
I can fall back on excuses – no time, too caught up in my life, too many commitments, etc. – but I know better.
I’ve been afraid to commit. I’ve held back, questioned myself, hesitated. For too long.
Why? Early on in my career I’m afraid I wasn’t always a good role model. I was too judgmental, too quick to criticize, too impatient. I’m not sure I always listened the way I should. And it’s not as if I didn’t love my job, and working with younger people. I didn’t have the confidence. I didn’t have the skills. To be honest, I could have used more mentorship myself.
I don’t think I’m alone. I think many of us are too hard on ourselves. We forget that we’re human, we make mistakes, lots of mistakes. But life happens to stretch and shape us. it may be a painful process, but we do grow.
And now, at this stage of my life, at the time of the year when thoughts turn to giving, I am ready to give back. Do I feel I have something to offer now? You bet!
I’ve got a lifetime of experience that stretches back to the days of typewriters and liquid paper and includes the launch of voicemail, email and cell phones. It’s a life that has seen enormous advances in the technologies younger generations can’t imagine being without. It’s a life that has embraced all kinds of change and is still absorbing, adopting and learning. And hopefully, it’s a life that offers some inspiration as a seasoned PR gal who just happens to be legally blind.
So I’m going to become an eMentor – and I’d love to take you with me. I know without even having to think about it that I know hundreds of men and women who have talent to burn, time to spare and a passion for the technology they’ve loved over many years.
Please take a few minutes to learn more about CanWIT’s eMentorship program and sign up. Be the role model these women want and need to grow and advance in their careers. I can’t think of a better gift.
Share. Guide. Inspire. And have a hell of a good time doing it. I know I will!