Monday, May 29, 2023

Calgary Project Chic Geeks Opening a World of Opportunities for Women in Tech

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Carla Baker
Carla Baker is a local writer and contributor from Calgary, Alberta. She has spent the last fifteen years in the city. Frequently, she also contributes to other websites on topics about travel, food, business, and lifestyle.

There has been a noticeable trend of women leaving technology jobs prematurely, causing them to miss out on promotion opportunities. Most might attribute this to inequality or the lack of opportunities for women in technology jobs. But one organization, Chic Geek, looks to change that reality. 

Chic Geek is a Calgary-based non-profit organization that aims to build programs and initiatives that will engage and keep women in the technology industry. Their programs include events that help women network with other women in tech, open up possibilities for workplace diversity, and educate industry players and employees on the importance of women representation in technology. 

Up to half of the women who take up jobs in technology will quit by the age of thirty-five, one study by Accenture shows. That number is significantly higher than the 20% reported in over types of industries. The same study also indicated that women in tech jobs leave at a 45% higher rate than men. 

That reality is what drives Chic Geek’s initiatives. The company is led by Founder and Executive Director, Kylie Woods, who also works as a Principal in Fresh and Nimble, a strategic graphic design firm based in Calgary, Alberta. 

As noted by program specialist Hanan Chebib, the issue of high turnover among women tech professionals isn’t the lack of interest in the field but the lack of career growth and promotion opportunities. “Imagine that you are a senior developer who has been in this industry for 10 years. You don’t see anyone who is female within the leadership or executive level,” Chebib said. “Sometimes, the message those companies are giving you is that there may not be any space for you.”

Accordingly, Chic Geek is launching all kinds of initiatives. One of them is their career pathing program that hopes to give twelve different women in tech twelve months to build a support network that will help them get into leadership positions. “What women desire are actual role models and mentors that they can talk to within their workplace. And if they can’t find it in their workplace, we hope they can come to Chic Geek.”

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