DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES: More women in Okanagan tech sector helping companies innovate | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES: More women in Okanagan tech sector helping companies innovate

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March 13, 2021 - 7:30 AM

For years, the technology sector has been a male-dominated industry, but the scales are tipping in the Okanagan.

Pam Boyko, VP of operations with the internal communications platform Bananatag, said the tech sector has changed from when she entered the industry in 2011.

She estimated that only 20% of Vineyard Networks, a network traffic monitoring and management solutions company, were women when she started at the company.

Being one of the few women in the company at that time, she stood out, and had to overcome gender bias when visiting trade shows.

“A lot of people assumed we just work promotions and don’t actually know anything about the product, so we had to overcome that,” Boyko said.

Now at Bananatag, pay parity is evaluated every year and the company works to ensure women are represented in leadership roles, she said. The company is maintaining pay parity for its second year, and roughly 50% of Bananatag staff are women.

Boyko hopes to see that other tech companies implement pay parity policies to ensure equality in the workplace.

In 2015, only 28% of workers in Kelowna’s tech sector were women. That has since jumped to 39%.

Accelerate Okanagan, a business accelerator for tech companies, launched a new program in 2020 called W Venture, which focused on supporting female tech founders.

Accustomed to being the only woman at the table, Accelerate Okanagan CEO Brea Lake said she is now starting to see a shift in the sector.

READ MORE: 10 badass women of the Thompson-Okanagan for International Women's Day

“Across the whole province there’s been a big movement around diversity and inclusion in the tech sector,” Lake said, adding a few key groups leading the projects for inclusion is HR Tech Group.

Lake said HR offers diversity training for companies that are more male-dominated, “and they’ve opened up way more opportunities for women to be hired and move into more senior leadership within the industry."

Women are seeing tech as a viable career path too, she said, with increased enrolment from women in more STEM-focused programs at Okanagan College and UBC Okanagan.

“When I first joined (Accelerate Okanagan) a lot of tables or board meetings I would join, I was often the only female and that is not the case anymore," Lake said.

"When I go into the room, it’s rare that there’s only one female at the table and I think that’s really promising as well, that there are just different perspectives and I think that’s where true innovation comes from.”

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