Women in Tech

  • Locelle Digital Inc. posted an article
    Locelle, a Victoria based startup has been selected to be part of this year’s PitchfestNW. see more


    Victoria, B.C., November 17, 2020: Locelle, a Victoria based startup has been selected to be part of this year's PitchfestNW.

    PitchfestNW is part of TechfestNW - an annual event featuring talks from industry speakers, and startup companies from around the world. This year’s programming will be online with startups from around the world pitching, inspiring speakers, informative panels, virtual networking and an expo!

    Founder and CEO, Humaira, is excited to share with audiences around the world how Locelle is creating access to leadership training and guidance for women working in the tech industry from women leaders who have successfully navigated their careers. 

    Through the company's fully-managed mentorship platform, that is designed to advance women at work using matching technology connecting them to leadership focused mentorship by women who’ve been there, Locelle is working towards creating an equitable future for women in traditionally male-dominated industries. 

    “Pitching to leading tech investors and leaders at this stage of our company is exciting as we share our platform and the revenue growth we have had during a global pandemic,” said Humaira Ahmed, Founder and CEO, Locelle. “Having bootstrapped so far, we have had our fair share of ups and downs but the most valuable lesson learnt is to respond to market needs in a timely manner and iterate accordingly,” said Ahmed.

    To participate and learn more, visit: https://locelle.com/locelle-selected-to-pitch-at-this-years-techfestnw/

    To join forward-thinking tech companies like RingPartner, Terramera, CGI, Vanhack and more that are investing in women on their teams, book an intro call today: https://locelle.com/locelle-teams-mentorship-for-women/


  • Humaira Ahmed posted an article
    This startup used its tech to help women recover from the economic impact of the pandemic. see more

    When Humaira Ahmed, the Founder & CEO of Locelle Digital, a networking and mentorship platform for women, began hearing from her app members about the struggles they were facing as a result of the pandemic, she got curious about the impact it was having on women in particular. When she encountered the startling findings of McKinsey Global Institute’s regressive effects of COVID-19 on gender equality, as the leader of a social impact startup, she knew she had to move fast. She sent out a survey to explore the type of support her members needed during this time. The survey results revealed that 85% of women using the Locelle app wanted mentorship and 30% wanted to be mentors. Ahmed and her team quickly developed a mentorship program unlike any other. 


    "With a focus on action rather than conversation, we wanted to develop something concrete to help women recover from the economic impact of the pandemic. We started with matching technology to curate connections for mentees that aligned with their career goals. Then we measured the impact in quarterly reports to provide a tangible way for our mentees to see how mentorship has influenced their professional development and growth,” says Ahmed.

    Locelle’s new mentorship program, Mentor Moments, is a fully-managed, 1:1 mentorship program designed to empower women in the workplace with tailored guidance aligned with their individual career goals and vision. What makes this different from most mentorship programs is the emphasis the Locelle team puts on professional development and career advancement. The team is dedicated to making space for mentees and mentors to get the most out of this relationship by taking the heavy-lifting off their hands in these 4 ways:










    Locelle does mentorship a little differently. With the Mentor Moments program, mentees have access to a team of world-class leaders who they can rely on based on their individual career goals and needs. Locelle’s community of mentors include industry leaders like:

    • Manpreet Dhillon, CEO & Founder of Veza Global, who recently launched a free online resource for Canada’s technology industry that provides access to best-in-class Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) resources and tools.

    • Stephanie Redivo, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Program Lead, Translink, who is an active member and speaker in the global women in tech community. She regularly inspires employees to be their best selves and do their best work through inclusive behaviour.

    • Hurriya Burney, Vice President at RBC, Commercial Banking, who is dedicated to helping new immigrants, minorities, and ambitious women build confidence in the Canadian workplace. 

    • Nataizya Mukwavi, Founding Executive Director of Black Women Connect Vancouver, who has created a collective of women who leverage their strengths, embrace their diverse experiences, build meaningful relationships, and celebrate Black excellence in B.C.

    “My mentor really helped bring more clarity to the direction I want to go. Her approach was just what I needed to carve out an initial path to my purpose. I’m so glad I took a chance on being a part of this program and look forward to more sessions,” says one mentee, a Sales & Marketing Manager at a tech company.   

    You’re invited to The Power of Mentorship Panel & Info Session on Thursday, October 1 at 12pm PDT. This FREE virtual event is ideal for professional women who want to find a mentor, and who are interested in exploring ways the Mentor Moments program can help them advance in their careers. Attendees will hear from a panel of mentees and mentors who will share their mentorship stories, along with tips on how to get the most out of this program. Reserve your spot for this event before Oct. 1. 


    About Locelle Digital, Inc.

    Locelle (pronounced Lok-elle) is a global platform created to connect, empower and advance women.  Through mentorship and career development opportunities, Locelle delivers professional growth to individual professionals and teams. Locelle’s private networking and fully-managed mentorship program is powered by matching technology. Becoming a member gives women in the workplace the chance to instantly start growing their communities, take steps toward advancing their careers, and begin making meaningful connections with like-minded women and industry leaders – all on one platform! The Mentor Moments program manages all the heavy-lifting of scheduling, feedback, matching and impact reporting, that way professional women can pour all their focus into their career development goals. Locelle is excited to announce that it was recently selected to be part of the 4.0 Cohort of the Women in Cloud (WIC) Microsoft Cloud Accelerator.

    For more information, contact Humaira Ahmed, Founder & CEO

    T: 250.514.8182 | E: humaira.ahmed@locelle.com

    Website URL: Locelle Digital Inc.

    Social media: Facebook | LinkedIn | Twitter | Instagram  

  • Locelle Digital Inc. posted an article
    This first of its kind lounge will feature networking and inspiring panel talks in a safe space. see more

    or immediate release

    Victoria, B.C., January 14, 2020: Locelle, Canada’s leading platform to connect women for networking, support and mentorship is hosting Discover Tectoria‘s first ever ‘Women in Tech Lounge’ on Feb 27th, 2020 at Crystal Gardens.

    “I have been to many tech conferences and the traditional vibe is very “bro culture” and not as welcoming for women. I wanted to have a safe space for women where they could gather, connect, share and learn; and VIATEC whole heartedly supported the vision”, said Locelle CEO, Humaira Ahmed.

    This first of its kind lounge will be focused on networking opportunities and inspiring panel talks throughout the day. While the content is still shaping up, the focus will be on helping women navigate issues such as leadership, stereotypes, confidence, growth and more importantly, how to advance in the industry.

    The lounge will also offer complimentary coffee. For interested companies looking to support and participate as sponsors or partners, please reach out to Humaira Ahmed at partners@locelle.com

    To learn more about the event, check out: https://www.viatec.ca/events/discover-tectoria-2020


    About Locelle Digital Inc.:

    Locelle (/lōk-el/) offers individual and enterprise platform to connect and engage women for support, mentorship and belonging.

    Media Contact:

    Humaira Ahmed

    Founder and CEO




    Social Media:





  • Sadie Evans posted an article
    VIATEC and partners to launch an accelerator program for women entrepreneurs in tech see more

    VICTORIA, BC (December 12, 2019) - VIATEC is honoured to announce that it has, with partners, secured a $475,000 CAD investment from the Digital Technology Supercluster to pilot a Women’s Entrepreneurship Program.

    The Women’s Entrepreneurship Program will be a dedicated set of three accelerator cohorts created by women, for women, to increase the support for and the presence of women founders in the rapidly growing tech-sector. The program intends to strengthen the capacity of organizations elevating women entrepreneurs by ensuring they have the business support they need to start or grow a business. 

    This collaborative project including Accelerate Okanagan, UVic’s Coast Capital Savings Innovation Centre, Purpose Five, and CDMN/Communitech, will see three cohorts of women entrepreneurs created; one in Kelowna and two in Victoria. If successful, this pilot project has the potential to evolve into a nation-wide offering. 

    "Typically, 10% or less of tech companies have a female founder. This pilot project is aimed directly at empowering women to build a program that works for them,” said VIATEC’s CEO, Dan Gunn. “It’s important that any program feels welcoming and supportive to entrepreneurs considering participating. It’s also vital that the participants feel a sense of belonging and identify with others in the program through shared perspectives. Most accelerator programs were developed by men and we’ve learned that those programs aren’t always the right fit for women entrepreneurs. We’re proud that we have been able to bring together this group of experienced partners with the funding needed to empower some of the trailblazing women in our communities to build a program that will better serve and support current and future women founders in tech.”

    The VIATEC cohort will be helmed by Shelley Voyer as Program Manager. Voyer, currently an Executive in Residence for VIATEC’s Accelerator Program, will take on the Women’s Entrepreneurship Program. 

    Throughout my career, I’ve witnessed the unique challenges women in business face - especially when launching and scaling their own company. I felt this first hand when I launched my tech start-up”, said Voyer. “While the rigours of growing a successful business aren’t unique to women, the support they need is. I’m thrilled to be a part of this essential initiative to provide an environment where women can thrive and ultimately strengthen our community for everyone.”

    "Tech has been the #1 industry in our region for over a decade and it’s well on its way to $10 billion in annual revenues,” continued Gunn. “However, there is plenty of evidence that women continue to be underrepresented in the sector and leadership roles in particular. In order for our companies and communities to reach their full potential, we need to take steps to engage, involve and empower more women which will both make our companies stronger and also help address the talent crunch. Supporting women to build an accelerator program that works for them is a step in that direction and I expect that not only will this assist women entrepreneurs, but it will help evolve accelerator models in general."

    The Women’s Entrepreneurship Program aligns with VIATEC’s values and current focus on developing new projects, programs, and partnerships aimed at supporting existing and future women leaders in the Greater Victoria tech sector. This project announcement comes on the heels of the VIATEC Foundation’s donation of $30,000 in funding towards the Gender Equity Fund and VIATEC’s sponsorship of HR Tech Group’s Diversity & Inclusion Tech Project.

    About VIATEC
    VIATEC (Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council), started in 1989. Our mission is to serve as the one-stop hub that connects people, knowledge and resources to grow and promote the Greater Victoria technology sector (Technology is Victoria's #1 industry with a $4.06 Billion Annual Revenue, a $5.22 Billion Economic Impact and over 16,775 employees across 995 high-tech companies - and growing!)


    About Digital Technology Supercluster

    The Digital Technology Supercluster consortium, led by Founding Members MDA, Microsoft, Telus and global leaders such as D-Wave Systems, LifeLabs, MDA, Teck Resources Limited, and TimberWest, and in collaboration with BC’s leading post-secondary institutions and non-profit organizations including Accelerate Okanagan, British Columbia Institute of Technology, BC Tech Association, Emily Carr University of Art + Design, VIATEC (Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council), and other Members including Finger Food Advanced Technology Group, LlamaZOO, and Terramera. (a full list of Members can be found here) aims to position Canada as a global leader in digital technologies and solve industry’s and society’s most challenging problems. The Supercluster co-invests in ambitious technology solutions to improve sustainability and competitiveness of our natural resources, healthcare and industrial sectors and energize the economy. By leveraging the strengths and diversity of small and large companies, research organizations and government agencies, our approach aims to deliver an impact with the speed and magnitude that no single organization could achieve on its own. The Supercluster manages the investments provided by the Government of Canada’s Innovation Superclusters Initiative and the public and private organizations which constitute its membership.  www.digitalsupercluster.ca.  


    About the Capacity Building Program

    The Capacity Building Program aims to develop a diverse pool of digital talent to ensure we have a workforce prepared for the jobs of tomorrow with a focus on improving the inclusion and participation of under-represented groups, including Indigenous Peoples and women.

    For media inquiries related to VIATEC

    Sadie Evans
    Marketing & Communications Manager


    For media inquiries related to the Digital Technology Supercluster

    Kathleen Reid

    Switchboard Public Relations



  • Humaira Ahmed posted an article
    Victoria based Locelle is launching in Toronto. The app is rapidly growing amongst women in tech. see more

    Locelle – a platform for women in the workplaces with a focus on retention and empowerment through connection – has been selected as a ‘Featured Startup’ at Collision in Toronto.

    Now in its sixth year, Collision was created by the team behind Web Summit, the world’s largest and most influential tech event. Collision attracts CEOs of the world’s largest companies, founders of exciting startups, leading investors and media from more than 120 countries. This year’s event is expected to host over 25,000 attendees.

    Locelle is taking this opportunity to open up the public beta to the Toronto audience and start to grow in the East. With users growing by 20% monthly in Vancouver, Victoria and Seattle, Locelle continues to grow rapidly among women working in technology companies.

    “This is the perfect platform for Locelle to not only launch but raise awareness of the platform to the companies looking to attract, engage and retain their top female talent. With a massive audience and people attending from over a 100 countries, we anticipate the word to get out and be known as the platform that connects and empowers women in tech”, said Locelle CEO, Humaira Ahmed.

    Locelle is on a mission to not just empower women around the world but also put Victoria on the map as a leading tech hub.

    If you are a woman going to Collision, download the app (available in iTunes and Google Play) and make connections at the conference. If you are a tech company interested in empowering women in your company through connections, contact Humaira Ahmed at humaira.ahmed@locelle.com

    To learn more, visit locelle.com 

  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    As a female developer these are some things I want in a company before I decide to join see more

    Source: Code.LikeaGirl.io
    Author: Leigha Mitchell

    I’m a woman in tech, and this is what I want in a company

    As a female developer these are some things I want in a company before I decide to join, and once I’m a part of the team.

    I want to see other women

    The first thing most people do before interviewing or even applying for a job is look at the company careers page. If it’s plastered with pictures of white guys in flannel with beards, that’s a red flag. If the exec team is all white men who look like they could be my father that’s another one. When you’re a small team and those are the cards you’re dealt, it’s harder to get around that. But you can always put a statement on this page explaining the fact you want to diversify your team and why. Another trick I’ve seen is having a clearly female silhouette saying “This could be you!”.

    Once I’ve made it past the careers page, I want to see them in person. It’s always important to have women in the interview process, but especially when the candidate is also a woman. This makes me feel more comfortable with asking certain questions, and offers an opportunity to ask things only another woman in tech could answer. Even if there aren’t currently women on the team I’d be joining (red flag) bring someone from another team in for a culture interview.

    I don’t give a shit about your “amazing culture”

    Everyone has great culture and you’re all best friends, I get it. This is so common in startup land that it’s meaningless. I’ve worked at these places, and I promise you what is an amazing culture for one person can be horrible for another. I want you to prove it. I want to meet members from every team, I want to chat with them and get to know what they’re like. It’s important for me to know that these are people I’m going to work well and grow with, and that they want to do those things with me.

    “Many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.”
    – Obi Wan Kenobi

    I don’t care that you have a ping-pong table, or a keg, or free snacks. I care that the CEO leaves on time to pick up her kids during the week, that the holidays are for spending time with your family, and that when the guy in marketing got engaged to his boyfriend everyone went out for lunch to celebrate. Those are the things I want to see, and the team I want to be a part of.

    Tell me how you’re going to help me grow

    The moment I get stagnant, I get bored and I move on. That is a huge factor in why I became a developer in the first place. There’s always something new to learn, or practice, or build. This means growth and projection are extremely important to me and I’ve learned the hard way to make sure that is clear from the beginning.

    I, like a lot of other women, am very passive when it comes to asking for raises or promotions. Having an outline of expectations for each level of developer helps with this. Now I have a guideline and I know exactly what I need to do to meet those expectations. It also helps reduce the opportunity for discrimination. Everyone knows what is expected for each level, and for each salary. You either meet the requirements, or you keep working at things until you do.

    I should forget that I’m a minority, but be supported when I remember

    It should never be painfully obvious that I’m the only woman in the room. In an ideal world I won’t be, but sometimes that is still the case. We are adults and everyone should be treated with respect and equally, but that is a whole other conversation. It’s great to have a CEO or a few advocates in the company who support diversity, but if it’s not a part of every employee’s mentality it won’t happen.

    If I bring something to the attention of a manager or member of the exec team, like concerns about lack of diversity or the treatment of women in tech, it should be taken seriously. If it’s within the company their help is crucial, but if it is a more broad concern I want to know that I have their support. If I tell them I want more women to get into tech I want them to say “So what are you going to do about it?” and know that they will push and support me.

    Help me fight my imposter syndrome

    Everyone knows about Imposter Syndrome these days and it’s something I suffer from. Especially as a woman in tech, and extra especially as a more junior developer. I’m incredibly hard on myself so it helps to have a team that will have my back in the fight. I don’t mean that I want to be told how awesome I am, I want real advice. I want to know that my mentors started out where I did, I need to be told to step back and look at the big picture and not the day to day.

    “The dark side clouds everything. Impossible to see the future is.”
    – Yoda

    That being said, it is also beneficial to be on a team that will tell other peoplehow awesome you are. A lot of people don’t like to brag or bring attention to their accomplishments, that’s why you need to do it for them. Seeing others be supportive of their team mates and brag about other’s accomplishments is a powerful thing. That is an environment you can’t fake, and everyone deserves to be a part of.

    I’ve been lucky enough to find a company like this, but for those still looking this is what I would expect and demand. For companies looking to hire more women and diversify your teams, I hope you learned something.

  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    The Society awards ten scholarships annually to recognize women who are excelling at the study of... see more

    Irving K Barber $10k Scholarships for Women in Tech

    Recognizing Women Conquering Technology

    The Society awards ten scholarships annually to recognize women who are excelling at the study of Computer Science, Engineering or Mathematics at the post-secondary level.  At least one of these scholarships is dedicated to a woman of Aboriginal ancestry.

    What You Should Know

    You must have completed a minimum of one-year of full-time studies leading to an undergraduate degree, diploma or certificate in Computer Science, Engineering, or Mathematics, and be continuing in your studies at a BC public post-secondary institution for at least one additional year.

    Women in Technology Scholarships and Aboriginal Women in Technology Scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic achievement (Minimum B+ GPA required), and a demonstrated commitment to the pursuit of a career in the Technology Sector.

    The application deadline is 4:00pm Thursday, July 5, 2018.

    Am I Eligible?

    You can apply for a Women in Technology Scholarship or an Aboriginal Women in Technology Scholarship (or both – one application)  if you have completed a minimum of one-year of full-time studies leading to an undergraduate degree, diploma or certificate in Computer Science, Engineering, or Mathematics, and will be continuing in your studies at a BC public post-secondary institution for at least one additional year.

    Click here to see detailed eligibility requirements and apply!

  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    Erin Athene talks about her path and journey so far. see more

    Source: Green Planet Blue Planet

    A call for more Women in Tech: Erin Athene on Green Planet Blue Planet Podcast

    Erin Athene talks about her path and journey so far. Purpose Five and of course Canada Learning Code. 

    A long career as a Tech Entrepreneur and smart investor makes her a champion in the Victoria tech space. Erins experience goes beyond and simple life habits bare for opportunity. On Green Planet Blue Planet Erin talked about how her 3h daily commute in Vancouver BC turned into one of Canadas largest non for profits on teaching people how to code.

    Listen to the episode below!

  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    At Giftbit, when I sat at a table doing a code review, I wasn’t one of the few females in the room.. see more

    Source: Medium.com
    Author: Aldyn Chwelos
     (Computer Science student — Outreach coordinator for UVic Women in Engineering and Computer Science)

    Unconscious Bias in Tech: Why Women leave their Engineering Careers
    (Opinion Piece)

    In 2014, women held only 26 percent of computing jobs. This number drops further when we look at other underrepresented groups such as racial minorities. For example, black women hold only 3 percent of all computing occupations and Latinas only 1 percent. What’s worse is that, due to the male-dominated, exclusionary environment that permeates so much of the tech field, many of these women will not stay. The Harvard Business Review determined that 56 percent of private sector technical women leave the industry at some point in their career. A one-dimensional and unwelcoming culture is bleeding diversity from the tech sector.

    A few weeks back, I was talking with some friends, and one of them asked if we’d ever experienced the discrimination or outsider feeling that is mentioned so often in respect to the tech field. For most of us, it was a resounding “yes” but explaining our answer was complicated. It was not a particular moment, course, or job. It’s still just that “old boys club” feel, one friend said. It was not something tangible that we could point to and say that, right there, that is the problem. It’s how during the first week of classes a software engineering student began grilling me on my credentials, asking what languages I knew, classes I had taken, AP programming exams I had written, textbooks I would read, projects I had built. I had not even been to one lecture, and already I felt behind. It’s when a few classmates were determined to explain to me, and to the only other girl in our project group, what “for loops” were despite our repeated assurances that we knew how they worked. It’s hearing comments like “If women do make it through their degrees they tend to do very well” or that we “are better at the Human Computer Interaction and design side.” What people think are compliments just remind us how few of us are in tech and that we are expected to fill specific spaces in the industry.

    In one computer science class, the professor assigned seven-hour group tests that ran until midnight. Most groups would meet on campus to complete the tests, often not leaving the computer science building until well after midnight. For many students, this was after their buses had stopped running. Several recent sexual assaults on campus meant that walking 30 minutes home or across campus alone at 1 am was unnerving at the least. This must have come to the professor’s attention since a message was sent out recommending that all female students get home by 10 and travel with a buddy. In practice, women had to choose between fully contributing to a group project or feeling safe getting home.

    According to the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), moments like these can be attributed to an unconscious bias we all share. Our brains use shortcuts called heuristics to help us make sense of the world. These are necessary because without them we would be unable to process the incredible amounts of data we absorb every minute. Heuristics compare new information to patterns we have seen before. For example, if you see an older woman she may remind you of your grandmother and you might assume then that she’s very sweet and friendly. Heuristics are the reason we can make quick decisions, and they save the brain from having to run costly algorithms every time we face a choice. Unfortunately, these shortcuts are often based on stereotypes and lead to many unintentionally skewed perspectives.

    These biases go beyond making minorities feel unwelcome in the industry to actually affecting performance. When it comes to development, someone’s code feels like a separate entity, something that speaks for itself and would be outside the boundaries of these stereotypes. A recent study of Github, an online repository where developers host and contribute to projects, revealed otherwise. Researchers determined that, when gender was unidentifiable, women and men’s code was approved at comparable percentages — in fact, women performed slightly higher than men. However, when factoring in gender, the acceptance rates of women’s code dropped by 10 percent.

    Further, the knowledge that these biases exist can be damaging all on its own. For example, a professor once pointed out to the entire class that a student was not just the only woman, but that she was the only woman of color. This was a prof who would go on feminist rants in class and who I happened to admire. She was attempting to explain why she wanted the student to succeed. Unfortunately, while comments like these are intended to be supportive, more often they leave students feeling isolated.

    Moments like these can have damaging effects as they contribute to something called Stereotype Threat, which is the phenomenon that the knowledge of negative stereotypes can decrease performance. In a study where young women were asked to complete a math test and a career aptitude test, women that were shown sexist images beforehand performed worse on the math test and were less likely to show interest in science and technology related fields. NCWIT states that Stereotype Threat results in decreased motivation, avoidance of technical leadership positions, and the devaluation of one’s ideas and abilities. It’s why women with B grades in computer science are much more likely to leave the program than men, despite the fact that they are still outperforming a significant portion of their peers.

    Understanding and being aware of biases and Stereotype Threat is an integral part of sparking change in the community. However, as we move towards a more inclusive industry, I find it easy to get weighed down by all the things that aren’t great. It’s important to note that while the numbers may be changing slowly, we are making progress. The improvements, like the problems themselves, can sometimes be subtle and hard to see.

    Not long after I began my work experience term at Giftbit, I remember excitedly explaining to my girlfriend that “I don’t notice my gender at work.” Since my first year at university when I took a gender studies class filled with women, I had been acutely aware of how few women there were in tech. Somehow in the last couple of months, I’d stopped noticing it. At Giftbit, when I sat at a table doing a code review, I wasn’t one of the few females in the room, I was just another employee; I wasn’t a female developer, I was simply a developer. It was incredibly refreshing. It’s a feeling I have heard echoed by various friends and peers during their experiences in the Victoria tech sector. It’s hard to know just how much an environment can affect you until you experience something different.

    As an executive member of the Women in Engineering and Computer Science (WECS) Club at the University of Victoria, I often get approached by recruiters and faculty looking for advice on gender issues. Often, I get asked what women are looking for in a workplace environment. They are all aware they have a diversity issue, and they are looking for the secret to fix it. My go-to answer has historically been, rather unhelpfully, “Just don’t be assholes.”

    Common sense and general human decency can solve a lot, but as I have learned over the years, it takes a bit more to get to a place where we all feel welcome. It takes a sustained conscious effort to overcome pervasive cultural habits. As an employer or faculty member, there are ways you can try and create a more welcoming space. One major way is to be clear about your company policy around diversity and then stand by it. Simply correcting the use of “he” when referring to generic developers or politely questioning a sexist joke goes a long way in creating a safer environment. It should not be the job of an underrepresented member to educate their peers. Always being the one to call others out on their slip-ups is both exhausting and potentially alienating. Personally, I will often not say anything for fear of being that person. However, when someone else catches it and corrects it, it’s incredibly refreshing and makes me feel like I am accepted.

    While the responsibility to improve the culture should not belong to those who are being oppressed, they have valuable insight, information, and ideas that we should not ignore. As an employer or faculty member, try and have an open door policy. Let your employees and students know that they can always talk to you about any issues. They may not, and that is okay, but just letting them know you want to listen can make them feel valued. One of the things I appreciate about my job is that my boss often asks for our feedback and schedules time to listen. For conversations like these to be effective, rapport and privacy are essential. There’s a difference between calling someone out in a way that makes them feel stigmatized and ensuring that everyone feels acknowledged and respected.

    In October, I attended the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. As I sat in an arena with over 14 000 women, I felt a mix of excitement and awe. The energy in the room was a bubbly anticipation. You could see it written all over our faces: we were not used to this. Over the course of the conference, they held quite a few meetups for specific minority groups. I attended the Queer Lunch and spent an hour chatting with lovely people about work, school, and how to go about getting gender neutral bathrooms in an office. Conference meet-ups like these are important as they allow for discourse that often would not occur in a tech space. Being able to connect with people that share similar interests, experiences, and struggles is an important part of promoting inclusion and empowering minority groups.

    While I was in Houston for the conference, I had the opportunity to attend a party for senior women in technology. I spent the night chatting with developers from Twitter, Amazon, Slack, and Paypal. These were women of varying races and backgrounds, women who had been in the industry for years and some that could not have been much older than me. Most of the technical leaders I engage with in my life are male. These are men I admire, respect and have learned so much from. However, there is something unique and validating about seeing women in those roles and being able to identify with them in a new way. Role models are an important part of breaking down the stereotypes that surround minorities in tech, and they are pretty damn inspiring.

    While the tech industry has made improvements, its lack of diversity remains a systemic problem that requires both time and a shift in perspective and practice. As the users of technology are infinitely varied, so too must the builders become infinitely diverse. Technology belongs to us all. It’s about time the industry reflected that.