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Richmond-based company encourages more women to join tech industry amid pandemic

A local tech company has been at the forefront of pushing more women to join the tech industry.
A Richmond-based tech company has been encouraging more women to join the industry.

A Richmond-based tech company has been pushing for more women to join the industry after experiencing a significant drop in job applications at the beginning of the pandemic, especially among female candidates. 

“Women, who have always been underrepresented in the tech sector, have been particularly affected by COVID-19,” said Frederika Renaud, human resources director of PressReader, which has an office in the Cambie neighbourhood.

The impact of the pandemic on women isn’t just limited to the tech industry. According to a March 2021 report by RBC, the COVID-19 pandemic has set working women in Canada back significantly as the female labour-force participation rate is at its lowest level in 30 years, and nearly half a million Canadian women who left the workforce during the pandemic have not returned to work.

Renaud explained that working females are left behind due to a myriad of reasons, including taking a bit of time for them to overcome the emotional trauma of getting laid off.

However, Renaud also found that sometimes the underrepresentation of females in the tech industry isn’t all about the lack of intention for companies to include more women. But sometimes, women are more cautious during the job application process, she said. 

When American business executive Sheryl Sandberg published her book Lean In in 2013, she mentioned that men apply for positions if they meet just 60% of the requirements, while women only apply if they meet 100% of them. 

Renaud also resonates with this finding during her hiring process. 

“For women applicants, please apply and don’t be afraid. You don’t need to be 100 per cent qualified for the job description to apply for a role,” said Renaud, adding that an applicant doesn’t need to meet every detail in the job description. 

Misconceptions also do exist, with some applicants thinking they need to be coding savvy to join a tech company. But candidates who don’t have any programming experience can also contribute as a marketing professional, content creator, or researcher. 

The most important thing for women to keep in mind during a job-hunting process is just don’t let the mindset limit yourself from chasing your passions, noted Renaud. 

Meanwhile, there are many educational programs available online that provide students with opportunities to learn coding within a short period, said Renaud, adding that females who have never learned to code before can consider trying that option as well. 

“Gender doesn’t matter. Just go with the company that resonates with you, go for it, and the tech industry is always welcome to have you,” said Renaud.