CATA WIT e-news
April 16, 2008

15 | April 2008

Spring is in the air for CATA WIT's blossoming initiatives

Welcome to our April issue of CATA WIT e-news! We hope you enjoy reading this month's newsletter which focuses on CATA WIT's initiatives to address the role of women in Canada's current IT talent gap. While there has been a great deal of progress on many fronts for women in the IT sector, there are still many obstacles - specifically a lack of mentoring and positive role models - which inhibits our potential to grow in this rewarding industry. We encourage you to view the recent report on Gender Challenges of Women in the Canadian Advanced Technology Sector for further information on the under-representation of women in the advanced technology sector.

One of CATA WIT's new national initiatives to close the IT talent gap has been the very successful Circle of Wisdom Growth Series. Re-enforcing CATA WIT's commitment to the Innovation Nation platform and to draw attention to the current IT talent gap, we are offering young women the chance to advance in their careers by forming business networks and stimulating mentoring opportunities through our ongoing Circle of Wisdom Series.

As we are finally beginning to unearth ourselves from the record-breaking snowfall of this most recent winter, I would like to take this opportunity to wish CATA WIT members a warm and splendid spring and thank our dedicated volunteers, e-newsletter readers, event speakers and sponsors, and all of those who were able to attend our Chapters' events. Your collective support is helping us achieve CATA WIT's vision.

Best wishes for a productive and successful spring!

Kindest regards,

Dr. Cindy Gordon
Chair, CATA WIT National Advisory Committee
CEO, Helix Commerce International Inc.

  The Telfer School of Management at the University of Ottawa partnered with Industry Canada Small Business Policy Branch and recently released new research about women entrepreneurs in export markets.

Authored by Barbara Orser, M.B.A., Ph.D., Deloitte Professor in the Management of Growth Enterprise Telfer School of Management, University of Ottawa, Gender and Export Propensity examines the influence of gender in international trade. This study reflects the critical nature of international trade to the Canadian economy, as SMEs comprise the majority of the firms that sell goods and services abroad and women are increasingly engaged in international entrepreneurial activities.

  CATA WIT congratulates Robin McIntyre, Regional President, Rogers Communication Inc., on receiving the 2007 Business Women of the Year - Corporate award at the Women's Business Network Gala on April 2, 2008 at the Ottawa Congress Centre. Please click HERE to learn more about the Women's Business Network.

Here's a brief list of humourous "high-tech slang":

Link Rot The process by which links on a web page become as obsolete as the sites they're connected to change location or die.

Dead Tree Edition The paper version of a publication available in both paper and electronic forms, as in: "The dead tree edition of the San Francisco Chronicle..."

Graybar Land The place you go while you're staring at a computer that's processing something very slowly (while you watch the gray bar creep across the screen).

Open-Collar Workers People who work at home or telecommute.

Cobweb Site A World Wide Web Site that hasn't been updated for a long time. A dead web page.

Elvis Year The peak year of something's popularity. "Barney the dinosaur's Elvis year was 1993."

(Women in Technology) Forum is a community network designed to boost women's participation and advancement in the high-growth technology sector.

Our mission is to help women in technology companies advance in their careers and succeed as entrepreneurs through mentoring, networking, professional development and advocacy.

Our vision is to be Canada's premier "go to" forum that is committed to the advancement of women in technology under the CATAAlliance innovation umbrella.

For more information about CATAAlliance WIT Forum please visit

CATA WIT Forum National Partners

MTS Allstream


Labarge Weinstein


R3D Consulting Inc.

Merrill Lynch
Filling the gap: France Cyrenne's thoughts on the role of women in the IT Skills Shortage

France Cyrenne France Cyrenne landed her dream job right out of university. Nineteen years later, France is a senior executive with the same company. As a senior consultant with Accenture, a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, she is a good role model for aspiring young women. Following the advice of a career counselor at a young age and developing her project management skills and techniques under a nurturing female manager provided France with the knowledge and encouragement to succeed.

With the rapid decline of enrolment in the science and technology programs and the daily struggle for women to balance careers and families, France believes senior level role models - and an innovative, hip marketing campaign - are exactly what the IT industry needs to attract more young women. She is a strong advocate for the important role women play in the industry and took time with CATA WIT to explain their essential role.

Mentors Early in Your Career

"I worked under a female manager for my first project with Accenture. I remember feeling really safe working for her; she took me under her wing and encouraged me to grow as an IT worker. She was so helpful," says France. "I think every young woman, or any person for that matter, needs that sort of influence when they're first starting out. You should never feel so insecure in a new job that you think you know nothing, but rather feel comfortable in a new setting that you want to learn everything."

Helping Women Stay in their Jobs and Start a Family

While there are many companies like Accenture providing support to young women by recruiting in universities and reaching out to female professors, many women leave what could be very successful careers in IT to have children without a sense of security or encouragement. "Women leave not asking for help, because they don't think it's feasible to have both a job and a family," says France. "Women that can see their positions as long-term and see a place for them in the company are more likely to stay. It's important for women in senior roles to share their stories, to share their strengths, and prove that a balance between work and family is possible."

Reaching Young Women Early

France's aptitude for IT related business was first uncovered in high school. Unsure of what she wanted to do as a career, France sought the advice of her high school's career counselor. After administering a test and combining her strengths in accounting and computers, France's career counselor suggested the Management Information Systems program at the University of Ottawa. However, changes in high school curriculums make it difficult to recruit at the grade 12 level; marketers need to target girls at an even younger age.

"We have to advertise to students not only at the college and university level, but also at the high school level. By grade 9 students are expected to choose their career path and made to take the right courses to get them into specific programs in university and college," says France. "I think a lot of young people were turned off of IT when the industry went through a rough spell in 2000. It's time to promote IT as a rewarding career that has a high self-satisfaction element. Marketing campaigns need to show IT's fun side by promoting the video games, the self-service websites or tools of everyday life, or even the fashion that is designed with the software that IT professionals develop. We need to show the exciting outcomes of our industry, not just someone in a suit staring at a computer."

France's observations:

  • Women are an important solution to filling the IT talent gap
  • Profiling successful women and women doing interesting jobs will help attract girls to consider IT as a career path
  • Programs are required to accommodate women in balancing a career and starting a family


April 16 - Toronto - Networking is Telling, Not Selling

Join our Toronto Chapter for an informative cocktail event that will entail an interactive discussion with Colleen Clarke, career specialist and corporate trainer. This is the perfect opportunities for those networking for the first time and for those who simply want to improve their skills!

Please click HERE to see details.

April 23 - Montreal - Symposium sur l'Entrepreneuriat en Technologie

Les clés du succès pour démarrer une entreprise en technologie - découvrir comment réussir. Rencontrer d'autres passionné(e)s et apprendre de leurs expériences, connaissances et passion. Se joindre aux entrepreneur(e)s des nouvelles technologies. Découvrir et développer ses propres forces d'entrepreneur(e)!

May 15 - Calgary Chapter's Inaugural Meeting

CATA WIT Forum is pleased to announce that Elan Harper, Manager, Tax, Deloitte and Kelly Morrison, Telus are the co-chairs of the new CATA WIT Calgary Chapter. They will chair their first executive meeting on May 15, 2008.

Welcome CATA WIT Chapter Chairs!

CATA WIT would like to introduce our other chairs around the country as well: Estelle Duez and Ella Mar, Ottawa Chapter Co-chairs, Joanne Hausch and Dr. Catherine Boivie, Vancouver Chapter Co-chairs, Suzie Labonne, Toronto Chapter Chair, and Vivian Hudson, Montreal Chapter Chair. We look forward to the successful Chapter events this coming spring!


Please join existing CATA WIT members on Facebook at You can add your comments and thoughts to topics such as: Are Women Under-represented in the High Tech Sector? Current Facebook members can subscribe directly to the CATA WIT Facebook group.