About Us

A Conversation with the unstoppable WinTech World Co-Founders

Women in Tech World co-founders Alicia Close and Elena Yugai sat down with managing editor Nancy Baye, for a little one on one.

PART I History of WinTech

NB: Hello! And thank you for sitting down with me. First off, what inspired you to create WinTech World?

AC: We saw so many gaps. We wondered why the number of women in computer science programs and the Tech and IT industry had dropped in the past two decades, when this sector was on fire. When we talked to women trying to work in tech plus industry employers, they both wanted to work with each other, yet it wasn’t happening. We had to ask, why do the gaps exist? So we started out with an industry week devoted to the issue in 2016, Women in IT Week, that was renamed Women in Tech Week in 2017. We organized both events in partnership with Women in Leadership Foundation.

NB: Did WinTech World evolve from Women in Tech Week?

EY: Absolutely! We grew very rapidly, partly because there is such a swelling of support from the tech community, government and the women themselves. To give you more context, during our first year we had 10 volunteers and about 10 weeks lead-time, but our team organized 17 events in five Canadian cities. This year we had 140 volunteers who coordinated and organized 22 events in seven Canadian and US cities!

AC: But the journey continues. We knew from the start that in order to have a lasting impact, we needed to build a truly scalable and sustainable movement, driven by strategic relationships and partnerships.

Over the last 18 months, we’ve had support from other non-profits, and schools like Beedie School of Business, who stepped in to provide us with resources and advice. And the tech companies – wow! Having corporations like Microsoft, Demonware, Shopify, and iQmetrix support us has been amazing.  We’re also very proud of our partnerships with BrainStation, Lighthouse Labs, RED Academy and CodeCore  because they’ve allowed us to create scholarships for women who want to enter or grow their careers in tech. They also have helped us with our mandate to engage tech employers, who made the commitment to attract, train, retain, and promote women in their organizations.

NB: This seems like a very well-organized organization!

AC: (laughs) We have to be, because our four year strategic plan is very ambitious. We’re committed to training and supporting women, helping them move into the leadership positions.

One of our core values is community. We believe in engaging all the stakeholders, including private and public sector and other non-profits and grassroots organizations. We believe that all of us working together can ensure that women can bring their talents and contributions to the tech industry and enjoy doing it.

 

PART II WinTech World Future

NB: Tell us about your plans for the organization.

AC: In 2017 our focus is on creating a solid foundation. We’ve reorganized and are raising funds and getting ready for Driving WinTech this fall. Our goal is to conduct community based research across Canada. Five women from our team (including me) will be driving across Canada this fall, facilitating 50 community forums and connecting with 10,000 people from diverse tech communities.

Information gathered from interviews, focus groups, and community conversations will allow us to create a National Report and set of guidelines on the lived experiences of women in tech in Canada, and how we can create more inclusive and collaborative tech communities nationwide.

EY: We’ll release our findings from Driving WinTech in a publicly available report early next year. We also want to support the grassroots movement in Canada, to have various chapters around the country,  to host a national summit and to be actively generating policy and advocacy to promote women’s participation in tech.  2019 will see us expanding further in North America, with events and chapters in the USA, and a North American Summit. Then – by 2020 we will take WinTech World global.

AC: Yes, we definitely want to be a global organization by 2020. We also aim to be an  authority on women in STEM policy ( Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics STEM). Another goal is to pioneer WinTech World programs in developing countries.

NB: It’s an ambitious and inspiring vision. Is there a way for people to get involved with WinTech?

EY: Our biggest request for support right now is Driving WinTech. To make that a success, we need support. We still have a few volunteer posts to fill and of course we’re always happy when people follow us on social media and share our story. Otherwise, we’re happy if you just talk about us to everyone you know, especially women in the tech industry.

About Us

A Conversation with the unstoppable WinTech World Co-Founders

Women in Tech World co-founders Alicia Close and Elena Yugai sat down with managing editor Nancy Baye, for a little one on one.

PART I History of WinTech

NB: Hello! And thank you for sitting down with me. First off, what inspired you to create WinTech World?

AC: We saw so many gaps. We wondered why the number of women in computer science programs and the Tech and IT industry had dropped in the past two decades, when this sector was on fire. When we talked to women trying to work in tech plus industry employers, they both wanted to work with each other, yet it wasn’t happening. We had to ask, why do the gaps exist? So we started out with an industry week devoted to the issue in 2016, Women in IT Week, that was renamed Women in Tech Week in 2017. We organized both events in partnership with Women in Leadership Foundation.

NB: Did WinTech World evolve from Women in Tech Week?

EY: Absolutely! We grew very rapidly, partly because there is such a swelling of support from the tech community, government and the women themselves. To give you more context, during our first year we had 10 volunteers and about 10 weeks lead-time, but our team organized 17 events in five Canadian cities. This year we had 140 volunteers who coordinated and organized 22 events in seven Canadian and US cities!

AC: But the journey continues. We knew from the start that in order to have a lasting impact, we needed to build a truly scalable and sustainable movement, driven by strategic relationships and partnerships.

Over the last 18 months, we’ve had support from other non-profits, and schools like Beedie School of Business, who stepped in to provide us with resources and advice. And the tech companies – wow! Having corporations like Microsoft, Demonware, Shopify, and iQmetrix support us has been amazing. We’re also very proud of our partnerships with BrainStation, Lighthouse Labs, RED Academy and CodeCore because they’ve allowed us to create scholarships for women who want to enter or grow their careers in tech. They also have helped us with our mandate to engage tech employers, who made the commitment to attract, train, retain, and promote women in their organizations.

NB: This seems like a very well-organized organization!

AC: (laughs) We have to be, because our four year strategic plan is very ambitious. We’re committed to training and supporting women, helping them move into the leadership positions.

One of our core values is community. We believe in engaging all the stakeholders, including private and public sector and other non-profits and grassroots organizations. We believe that all of us working together can ensure that women can bring their talents and contributions to the tech industry and enjoy doing it.

 

PART II WinTech World Future

NB: Tell us about your plans for the organization.

AC: In 2017 our focus is on creating a solid foundation. We’ve reorganized and are raising funds and getting ready for Driving WinTech this fall. Our goal is to conduct community based research across Canada. Five women from our team (including me) will be driving across Canada this fall, facilitating 50 community forums and connecting with 10,000 people from diverse tech communities.

Information gathered from interviews, focus groups, and community conversations will allow us to create a National Report and set of guidelines on the lived experiences of women in tech in Canada, and how we can create more inclusive and collaborative tech communities nationwide.

EY: We’ll release our findings from Driving WinTech in a publicly available report early next year. We also want to support the grassroots movement in Canada, to have various chapters around the country, to host a national summit and to be actively generating policy and advocacy to promote women’s participation in tech. 2019 will see us expanding further in North America, with events and chapters in the USA, and a North American Summit. Then – by 2020 we will take WinTech World global.

AC: Yes, we definitely want to be a global organization by 2020. We also aim to be an authority on women in STEM policy ( Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics STEM). Another goal is to pioneer WinTech World programs in developing countries.

NB: It’s an ambitious and inspiring vision. Is there a way for people to get involved with WinTech?

EY: Our biggest request for support right now is Driving WinTech. To make that a success, we need support. We still have a few volunteer posts to fill and of course we’re always happy when people follow us on social media and share our story. Otherwise, we’re happy if you just talk about us to everyone you know, especially women in the tech industry.

Everyone knows that we are living in an increasingly tech-enabled world. Not surprisingly, this is reflected in the number of jobs that are now available in the tech industry. The problem is, while the Computer Science workforce has grown by 60% since 1991, the percentage of young women going into the industry has declined (Stats Canada 2011). This needs to change.