In 2016, co-founders Ali Close and Elena Yugai looked around at their peers and wondered why they didn’t see more women.

In 2016, co-founders Ali Close and Elena Yugai looked around at their peers and wondered why they didn’t see more women.

Questions arose: why had the tech sector grown while women in the field declined, why were skilled women not securing top tech positions, why were employers not seeing enough skilled women applicants?

Things didn’t add up, and something needed to be done about it. A movement to advocate for, and elevate women in technology began in tech startup central, Vancouver B.C.

Momentum picked up fast. In 2016, Close and Yugai co-organized Women in IT Week – 17 in five Canadian cities. With such impact, the team wondered where to go from there. Another such week, renamed to Women in Tech Week was held in 2017. This time it was 22 events in seven Canadian and US cities which attracted 60 speakers, 750 attendees and over 1K in social media followers. It became clear the movement had grown beyond seven mere days. In 2017, Close  and Yugai co-founded non-profit Women in Tech World (WinTech World).

CEO Alicia Close draws on a background of program development, a zest for social entrepreneurship and analytics. She drives operational strategy and scalability for WinTech World. Close wonders, “Since we live in a tech society, and the numbers of tech jobs increase continually, why are the numbers of women at all levels, let alone senior ones, declining?”

“Since we live in a tech society, and the numbers of tech jobs increase continually, why are the numbers of women at all levels, let alone senior ones, declining?”

WinTech World’s CGO Elena Yugai is naturally skilled at connecting and inspiring people, and is using these skills to build a global audience. She notes, “The number of women in university STEM programs or employed in those industries have declined since the 1990’s. Those stats shocked us. We were in the industry, knew women who were beyond competent, who wanted to be in tech. We met industry employers who wanted women onboard. This was a big disconnect.”

They took on a mission to investigate, discover the barriers, where the gaps widened and how to narrow them. They examined the global aspect of gender equality, the UN’s sustainable development goals, and the Canadian government’s mandate on the status of women. Our vision started to come into focus. By the second WinTech Week, in 2017, WinTech World’s vision had come into focus, with a clear strong mission.

Close describes a two year hyper-growth strategy, which starts at a grassroots level with a multi-stakeholder approach. “We set our objectives: advocating equal opportunities for women in senior tech positions, empowering women to build tech skills and develop professionally, to engage community stakeholders, to create tools and playbooks to support and promote women in tech.” Mentorships with industry influencers, and scholarships round out the plan.

After many Vancouver events, the team realized they needed to widen their data collection. Driving WinTech was created, an initiative where team members will cross the country to engage, interview and build networks with Canadian women in tech. This will create a solid foundation for WinTech and render an invaluable national report.

Canadian expansion in 2018 will see the formation of a national network with other chapters, a national summit, more advocacy and policy-building.

North American expansion is planned for 2019, with chapters in the US and various events throughout North America.

But WinTech doesn’t plan on stopping there. Yugai notes the larger vision, “By 2020, we aim to be a global organization, to be seen as an authority on women in tech policy. We also plan to pioneer WinTech World programs in developing countries.”

Questions arose: why had the tech sector grown while women in the field declined, why were skilled women not securing top tech positions, why were employers not seeing enough skilled women applicants?

Things didn’t add up, and something needed to be done about it. A movement to advocate for, and elevate women in technology began in tech startup central, Vancouver B.C.

Momentum picked up fast. In 2016, Close and Yugai co-organized Women in IT Week – 17 in five Canadian cities. With such impact, the team wondered where to go from there. Another such week, renamed to Women in Tech Week was held in 2017. This time it was 22 events in seven Canadian and US cities which attracted 60 speakers, 750 attendees and over 1K in social media followers. It became clear the movement had grown beyond seven mere days. In 2017, Close  and Yugai co-founded non-profit Women in Tech World (WinTech World).

CEO Alicia Close draws on a background of program development, a zest for social entrepreneurship and analytics. She drives operational strategy and scalability for WinTech World. Close wonders, “Since we live in a tech society, and the numbers of tech jobs increase continually, why are the numbers of women at all levels, let alone senior ones, declining?”

“Since we live in a tech society, and the numbers of tech jobs increase continually, why are the numbers of women at all levels, let alone senior ones, declining?”

WinTech World’s CGO Elena Yugai is naturally skilled at connecting and inspiring people, and is using these skills to build a global audience. She notes, “The number of women in university STEM programs or employed in those industries have declined since the 1990’s. Those stats shocked us. We were in the industry, knew women who were beyond competent, who wanted to be in tech. We met industry employers who wanted women onboard. This was a big disconnect.”

They took on a mission to investigate, discover the barriers, where the gaps widened and how to narrow them. They examined the global aspect of gender equality, the UN’s sustainable development goals, and the Canadian government’s mandate on the status of women. Our vision started to come into focus. By the second WinTech Week, in 2017, WinTech World’s vision had come into focus, with a clear strong mission.

Close describes a two year hyper-growth strategy, which starts at a grassroots level with a multi-stakeholder approach. “We set our objectives: advocating equal opportunities for women in senior tech positions, empowering women to build tech skills and develop professionally, to engage community stakeholders, to create tools and playbooks to support and promote women in tech.” Mentorships with industry influencers, and scholarships round out the plan.

After many Vancouver events, the team realized they needed to widen their data collection. Driving WinTech was created, an initiative where team members will cross the country to engage, interview and build networks with Canadian women in tech. This will create a solid foundation for WinTech and render an invaluable national report.

 

Driving WinTech was created, an initiative where team members will cross the country to engage, interview and build networks with Canadian women in tech.

Canadian expansion in 2018 will see the formation of a national network with other chapters, a national summit, more advocacy and policy-building.
North American expansion is planned for 2019, with chapters in the US and various events throughout North America.

But WinTech doesn’t plan on stopping there. Yugai notes the larger vision, “By 2020, we aim to be a global organization, to be seen as an authority on women in tech policy. We also plan to pioneer WinTech World programs in developing countries.”