Why Women Want Information Technology (IT)
October 3, 2008


Toronto, October 3, 2008...Women in Technology Management (WITM), a student group at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University, teamed-up with CATA Women in Technology (WIT) Forum to host the first-ever Canadian networking seminar targeting female university students.

The "Why Women Want Information Technology (IT)" seminar featured an all-women panel of experts who successfully work in the Information Technology (IT) industry, giving female IT students mentoring and networking opportunities. More than 50 students and women in the IT industry attended the event at the Ted Rogers School of Management on Oct. 2, 2008.

"We all know a gender disparity exists in the IT industry, which is mostly what WITM focuses on," said Maritia Singh, President, WITM. "This time we wanted to shift things around a bit and shed some light on the positives - we held this event to expose females to the true benefits and advantages of being a woman in the industry."

In recent years interest in IT-related university programs have declined, and according to a report submitted by William G. Wolfson to the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) in March 2008, women make up just 25 per cent of the IT labour force.

"Women in particular have avoided IT programs, and today represent about 20 to 30 per cent of the overall IT enrolment," said Ron Babin, Interim Director, Ted Rogers School of Information Technology Management and moderator of the event.

A report submitted to ICTC in March 2007 by Dr. Wendy Cukier, Associate Dean Academic, Ted Rogers School of Management, suggested that women do not enter the IT force because of socialization, negative perceptions of computing and related work, systemic barriers in post-secondary institutions, misalignment of job descriptions and requirements as well as a lack of workplace support.

"Canada is facing an IT talent crisis in attracting, retaining and developing women. One of the major needs of women in IT is stronger mentoring support networks," said Dr. Cindy Gordon, CEO & Founder, Helix Commerce International and Chair, CATA WIT Advisory Committee. Gordon, a panelist at the event, continued "Ryerson forums like this bringing young women and experienced women together add tremendous value and over the long term these new networks will grow stronger roots."

Dr. Gordon, along with Cigdem Aygun, Architect Advisor, Developer and Platform Evangelism, Microsoft Canada, Cathy MacDonald, Senior Vice President Business Transformation, Rogers Communications Inc. and Lori McLean, General Manager, IBM Alliance, Nortel each spoke briefly to the crowd of students and female IT industry leaders about their careers. The floor then opened for the panel to answer questions from the audience ranging from dealing with stereotypes to work and life balance.

"Senior female IT professionals need to ensure that we continually encourage students to explore the IT industry when considering their career aspirations," said panelist MacDonald. "Such a career path allows us the opportunity to learn more about the IT industry as well as the overall strategic aspects of the business. This includes educating women on the career successes and pitfalls of the industry and how they can promote and market themselves to be successful."

For further information:

Sarah Hayward
Public Relations Coordinator
Ted Rogers School of Management
Ryerson University
Office: (416) 979-5000 x 7709

Joanne Stanley
CATA Vice President
CATA WIT Forum Managing Director
Office: (613) 746-9219
Cell: (613) 298-2493, jstanley@cata.ca

The CATA Women in Technology (WIT) Forum is a national community network designed to boost women's participation and advancement in the technology sector through mentoring, networking, professional development and advocacy for women in the high tech sector. http://www.catawit.ca

The Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University is Canada's largest undergraduate management school, conveniently located at Bay and Dundas Streets in the heart of downtown Toronto. The Information Technology Management program is Canada's only Bachelor of Commerce program that integrates business management and information communications technology (ICT).

Ryerson University is Canada's leader in career-focused education, offering close to 90 PhD, master's, and undergraduate programs in the Faculty of Arts; the Faculty of Communication & Design; the Faculty of Community Services; the Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Science; and the Ted Rogers School of Management. Ryerson University has graduate and undergraduate enrolment of 25,000 students. With more than 64,000 registrations annually, The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education is Canada's leading provider of university-based adult education.