By Nicole Williams
Like many corporate environments, it can be difficult for women to break into digital and technological work places. This isn’t news.
But the problem is worth addressing, especially for Girl Geeks Toronto, who hosted a panel at Ryerson University’s Transmedia Zone, called The Industry We Love But Leave: How We Can Foster Gender Equality in Tech.
The panel featured an array of female experts in the digital and technological professions, including Nicole Bogart, a former Humber College student in the Journalism program, who is currently the national technology reporter for Globalnews.ca.
“I’ve always had this sort of geeky background. During my time at Humber, I was working at Apple, so I ended up doing these kinds of geeky stories,” said Bogart.
Bogart says her time at Humber helped her form positive relationships with male colleagues. However, since starting her career, she has faced a lot of prejudice in her field for being a woman.
“Many people, especially over social media, feel like I don’t have the expertise to talk about tech because I’m a female,” said Bogart. “There were times over Twitter where I would get a message from someone criticizing me for even mentioning some new kind of technology, and it was because girls apparently don’t know things about tech.”
The panel discussed “brogramming culture” and the different ways in which women are not only excluded from tech workspaces often but are also mistreated once they get there.
Lyndsay Kirkham, a professor at Humber College was also featured on the panel, and says the top five venture capitalist firms in Silicon Valley have no female senior staff.
“Whether the sexism is intentional or not, there’s an assumption around women of not wanting to join the culture, and so they don’t get invited to the party,” said Kirkham.
Kirkham, who teaches English at Humber, says there are different levels of barriers for different women and the best solution for sexism is women mentoring other women.
“It’s important that girls find the right support from someone who’s been through those kinds of struggles before,” said Kirkham. “Girls need to not be afraid to network, and realize they’re worth it.”
The panel is one of many monthly events organized by Girl Geeks Toronto.
Organizers Anna Starstas and Caroline McGregor say that the need for these events has been growing every year.
“Our events focus on supporting women in tech, but also on exploring the newest frontiers of technology,” said McGregor.
Both McGregor and Starstas agree that its important women have a space to feel comfortable.
“It’s about creating an open and inclusive space, where both men and women are welcome to talk about tech, and women’s place in the tech world,” said Starstas.
The organization is approaching its three-year anniversary and have cultivated a quality of excellence to their events.
“We’re able to bring these amazing speakers to these events and because of that, people look forward to coming,” said Starstas. “We’ve found a group of very curious people.”