In 2016, Hispanotech, a member association in the Professional Immigrant Networks (PINs) program, launched the Women in IT project, an initiative to help Hispanic female IT professionals advance their careers in the sector. Donaji Gomez, Director, Hispanotech, shares why they started this project and the progress so far.
There are many initiatives in Toronto helping female professionals in the IT/Technology sector by addressing challenges faced by women in a traditionally male dominated industry. However, we felt that our female members, i.e. Hispanic immigrant women in the sector, face additional challenges which compound and amplify the issues that could be faced, for example, by a female professional born, raised and educated in Canada.
Factors like language, accents, education, cultural differences, and stereotypes present an additional barrier for smooth inclusion in society and the job market in Technology in Canada. Recognizing these challenges, in 2016, the female members on the Hispanotech Board proposed this initiative. I volunteered to start and run the program, which we have been doing for the last 3 years.
To begin this initiative, we started collecting additional demographic information about our members, identifying, for example, that 40% of them are female. We also found out their age range, educational level, field of work, country of origin, among other data that allow us to design and target future activities.
So far, we have organised annual women-only educational and networking events, where we invited a selected panel of female professionals that shared their knowledge and top learnings that helped their career development in the sector. We have started to identify other organizations that provide complementary services; for example, one that offers an entrepreneurship program for immigrant women. As a 100%-volunteer organization, we have limited resources, and we want to make sure we don’t spend them reinventing the wheel.
Going forward, we would like to extend the program to include activities year-round, with more and better targeted events focused on the career and personal interests of our female members. We also plan to conduct a survey of our female members, to make sure our program provides real value and how we can enhance it.
At this time, we are recruiting additional volunteers among our members, to properly plan and execute our initiatives. Interestingly, I have been away on maternity leave, which is a great opportunity for our organization to walk the talk!
For more information about Hispanotech’s vision, events, and membership benefits, please visit https://hispanotech.ca/, join their Linkedin / Facebook groups, and follow on Twitter (@hispanotechca).