The repeated theme one hears if they wish to join the daunting yet rewarding world of entrepreneurship is long hours, little sleep and an abundance of risk. For myself, the last point is the most intimidating. But I’m one to actively pursue new, challenging experiences so I’m not counting out entrepreneurship as a future career option quite yet.
Earlier this week, I, along with a group of colleagues from Traction on Demand, attended the Women’s Entrepreneurship Day event hosted by the BC Tech Association. It was a celebration of women’s contributions to the Canadian economy and, at the same time, a discussion about the necessity of supporting roles. I had a particular interest in this event because I was involved with a women's leadership program at my alma mater, Simon Fraser University.
The main message at the event was that there are plenty of opportunities and support for women entrepreneurs and leaders.
According to Statistics Canada, although women in Canada make up the majority of university graduates, we are still underrepresented in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. There is no straight answer as to why this is the case, but this trend is also reflected in the technology industry. Figures from the National Center for Women & Information Technology show that in 2015, a mere 25% of the technology workforce was made up of women. It’s disappointing to see that these low figures have persisted in the modern era.
Nonetheless, women are currently in a unique position. Although we’re still underrepresented in the tech industry, particularly in leadership roles, there are a variety of programs and tools out there to help us in our pursuit. Which brings me back to Women’s Entrepreneurship Day. The attendees included women of all stages of their career; some were recent university graduates looking for their big break, while others were 20-year veterans who had plenty of advice to offer. The speakers were engaging and each had a unique experience to share.
Overall, their messages had one thing in common: there are plenty of opportunities and support out there for women entrepreneurs and leaders. While we’re fighting to get those numbers higher, remember that we’re not alone and that we have an amazing community of people out there willing to push with us. It’s inspiring to see a vibrant community of intelligent, ambitious women and men out there who are ready and able to help us go-getters reach the next stage of our potential – and mitigate the risks along the way. Learn more about women and entrepreneurship: Women’s Enterprise Centre, Forum for Women Entrepreneurs, Futurepreneur and Minerva Foundation.