Female Entrepreneurs Optimistic At #StartUpWomen IWD 2018 Event

Last Thursday, women and men throughout the business community pressed for progress and advocated for equality as part of International Women’s Day. To celebrate the occasion, Startup Canada hosted #StartupWomen, an event full of great discussions and inspiring talks with some of Canada’s noteworthy female entrepreneurs and executives.

During the event, Startup Canada CEO Victoria Lennox led a panel of female entrepreneurs and experts in STEM — a field often regarded as one of the least diverse — to share success stories, discuss strategies to drive change, and offer advice to the girls of the future.

Panelist Eva Lau, co-founder of Two Small Fish Ventures, was encouraged by the change she’s seen over her career. “I remember when I was in engineering school; back then, my class was only 12% women,” Lau recalled. “Talking to someone from U of T engineering, this year we’re seeing 40% (female) enrollment.”

While the improvement is encouraging, Lau still urges companies to create programs that inspire and excite women to participate in STEM. She highlighted Toronto’s recently launched Associate Product Manager (APM) program as an example of one such initiative that has the potential to create opportunities for women in tech.

The rapid pace of technological change had Head of Microsoft Canada’s Partner Organization Charlotte Burke feeling likewise optimistic. “By 2020, 80% of the jobs that exist today will materially change or not exist at all,” said Burke. “I think that’s fabulous for women. When change happens fast, you can get in and redefine yourself.”

In closing the discussion, each of the panelists offered actionable advice for fellow females looking to break into STEM. Startup Canada’s Janice MacDonald, Imbritech President Cathy Imbriglio, and Ingenium Strategic Director Sandra Corbeil offered a clear takeaway to the panel’s audience of women and supporters: “Don’t wait for permission. Don’t give up. And don’t let others define you.”

The entire event can now be viewed online, and more resources are available for female founders on Startup Canada’s website.