An invitation to attend the Canadian Celebration for Women in Technology held in Halifax that year was an incredible opportunity that was extended to me. Not only did I get to meet a plethora of incredible women excelling in the various fields of technology but I appreciated being in a space where I saw both gender representation and an existing community . The conference was 3 days long and touched upon a variety of issues stemming from empowering the next generation of women leaders to instilling confidence in women within college campuses and schools. It consisted of the usual mini workshops, recruitment talks by industry and speed-talks by researchers on their respective topics.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t only until I spoke to my peers that I realized the ever-existing segregation and oppression that occurs constantly for my female friends at McGill. Having only been in the C.S community relatively recently, my encounter with negligent and incompetent teammates seemed more of unfortunate decision on my end - where I should’ve decidedly picked my team sooner rather than later. However, this behavior of irresponsibility occured too often to be considered an isolated event. With the majority of the C.S departments in schools being predominantly male, this masculine culture still perpetuates many computer science classes, where gender plays an important role in our expectations of success and competence of a given individual.
This conference, aimed primarily as a means of celebrating women in tech, served a greater hidden purpose that provided an inclusive and safe space for individuals to exchange experiences and solutions in introducing more gender friendly environments in institutions and workspaces. With people like Carol Frieze, director of SCS4ALL at Carnegie Mellon University, instilling programs and instituitional infrastructure that fundamentally levelled the ratio of male to female undergraduates enrollment to 1:1 at CMU, replicating these numbers across various institutitions is incredibly plausible. However, a crucially fundamental first step is encouraging and providing resources for existing female C.S majors to create a community for themselves - a place where there is frequent exposure to representation in STEM, a place that nutures and encourages individuals to break glass ceilings.
I’m excited in being a part of a movement that aims to improve work culture for the next generation of engineers. Inclusivity should be a given instead of just an after-thought and primarily begins with our attitude towards combating stereotypes and initial impressions. Perhaps, with a new genertion of young fresh minds keen on breaking stigmas, a previously stubborn systemic problem could be solvable through collaboration and teamwork.