Talking to Charlottetown: The Driving WinTech Tour

Driving WinTech Event Recaps


Community Conversation in Charlottetown

Ch2

By Rainer Kern

Driving Win Tech is nearing the end of our tour and we have mixed feelings about that. Our October 30th conversation in Charlottetown was our third to last discussion, and what a success it was! Held at the space of sponsor Startup Zone, in beautiful downtown Charlottetown, panelists shared their thoughts, feelings and best advice with an eager audience.

Who were our panelists, you might ask? Danielle White is Senior Manager of Development for Ooka Island. Rosie Le Faive is a Digital Infrastructure and Discovery Librarian at UPEI. Teng Liu (Tammy) is a former Quality Assurance Manager and Customer Support at Optimum Path Inc. Tammy decided to return to school after falling into tech as a QA at a startup.

Our panelists were asked:

  • How they got started in tech and ended up in their current position
  • To share their biggest career learning opportunity
  • To list helpful support or resources
  • Whether they’d ever experienced imposter syndrome
  • What women in tech’s greatest advantage is
  • Top advice for the next generation of women in tech
  • Thoughts on their tech experience in Charlottetown, and whether the PEI has a welcoming tech community

The questions led to a lively discussion with plenty of insight.

Rosie began as an engineer. Her mother hadn’t been allowed to go to school so when Rosie excelled in math, Mom pushed her to study engineering. When Rosie moved away from engineering, she felt as if she were betraying her gender. She still feels that women are stereotyped as being weak at math, and it’s important to show positive role models. Girls need to see that women can succeed in these fields. She noted that family can offer great support. She also believes it’s tough for people starting out today, with jobs that nix paid vacations and require round-the-clock work. On her biggest learning opportunity, Rosie said, “I had a sink or swim experience and learned a lot from that. What helped me most was that I was able to reach out and build a community around myself. Seeing people go through the same kind of stuff is really helpful.”

Danielle had an unlikely experience get her started in tech – a  mandatory high school computer science class. This spurred her into the future. She majored in computer science at university, completed a masters degree. Eventually, she found her way into product development after getting headhunted for a startup. As is common with startups, Danielle had to wear many hats. She did QA, a bit of IT then found her passion in product development. One of her early challenges was thinking she always had to know everything and look like the smartest person in the room. Not true, she soon learned. She came to realize that the biggest ideas come from people asking questions.

Tammy fell into tech by accident. While working at a tech company, a colleague went on maternity leave and she took over QA. She quickly found that she really enjoyed it, so she pursued the role further. Her colleagues taught her most of what she knows, “I learn by bringing the customer’s issues to the programmers.” Her team noticed a large change in company culture and dynamics when the boss hired a woman onto the team.  She added, “It seemed as if they immediately became more productive because women have a moderating presence on men.”

When an audience member asked about getting more women leaders in the tech field, Danielle pounced on the question, She believes seeing more positive role models in film and TV would help immensely. Rosie joined in, commenting on the stereotypes seen in the media. They both agreed that the media focuses on preconceived notions and it’s a negative influence.

Thanks to food sponsor, EA Sports, and again to Startup Zone. Check back soon as we wrap up our discussions on the east coast. Full recommendations will be published this winter.

Talking to Charlottetown: The Driving WinTech Tour

Driving WinTech Event Recaps


Community Conversation in Charlottetown

Ch2

By Rainer Kern

Driving Win Tech is nearing the end of our tour and we have mixed feelings about that. Our October 30th conversation in Charlottetown was our third to last discussion, and what a success it was! Held at the space of sponsor Startup Zone, in beautiful downtown Charlottetown, panelists shared their thoughts, feelings and best advice with an eager audience.

Who were our panelists, you might ask? Danielle White is Senior Manager of Development for Ooka Island. Rosie Le Faive is a Digital Infrastructure and Discovery Librarian at UPEI. Teng Liu (Tammy) is a former Quality Assurance Manager and Customer Support at Optimum Path Inc. Tammy decided to return to school after falling into tech as a QA at a startup.

Our panelists were asked:

  • How they got started in tech and ended up in their current position
  • To share their biggest career learning opportunity
  • To list helpful support or resources
  • Whether they’d ever experienced imposter syndrome
  • What women in tech’s greatest advantage is
  • Top advice for the next generation of women in tech
  • Thoughts on their tech experience in Charlottetown, and whether the PEI has a welcoming tech community

The questions led to a lively discussion with plenty of insight.

Rosie began as an engineer. Her mother hadn’t been allowed to go to school so when Rosie excelled in math, Mom pushed her to study engineering. When Rosie moved away from engineering, she felt as if she were betraying her gender. She still feels that women are stereotyped as being weak at math, and it’s important to show positive role models. Girls need to see that women can succeed in these fields. She noted that family can offer great support. She also believes it’s tough for people starting out today, with jobs that nix paid vacations and require round-the-clock work. On her biggest learning opportunity, Rosie said, “I had a sink or swim experience and learned a lot from that. What helped me most was that I was able to reach out and build a community around myself. Seeing people go through the same kind of stuff is really helpful.”

Danielle had an unlikely experience get her started in tech – a  mandatory high school computer science class. This spurred her into the future. She majored in computer science at university, completed a masters degree. Eventually, she found her way into product development after getting headhunted for a startup. As is common with startups, Danielle had to wear many hats. She did QA, a bit of IT then found her passion in product development. One of her early challenges was thinking she always had to know everything and look like the smartest person in the room. Not true, she soon learned. She came to realize that the biggest ideas come from people asking questions.

Tammy fell into tech by accident. While working at a tech company, a colleague went on maternity leave and she took over QA. She quickly found that she really enjoyed it, so she pursued the role further. Her colleagues taught her most of what she knows, “I learn by bringing the customer’s issues to the programmers.” Her team noticed a large change in company culture and dynamics when the boss hired a woman onto the team.  She added, “It seemed as if they immediately became more productive because women have a moderating presence on men.”

When an audience member asked about getting more women leaders in the tech field, Danielle pounced on the question, She believes seeing more positive role models in film and TV would help immensely. Rosie joined in, commenting on the stereotypes seen in the media. They both agreed that the media focuses on preconceived notions and it’s a negative influence.

Thanks to food sponsor, EA Sports, and again to Startup Zone. Check back soon as we wrap up our discussions on the east coast. Full recommendations will be published this winter.

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.