Number of women in tech growing in the Okanagan

Find your passion at the Black Press Extreme Education and Career Fair March 12

With the growing tech sector in the Okanagan, the roles in technology are diversifying.

Brea Retzlaff, director of operations with Accelerate Okanagan, said more women are joining the tech force. About 28 per cent of employees in the tech industry are women in the Okanagan, according to a study that was conducted by Accelerate Okanagan a few years ago.

“Industry average is actually usually around 18 to 20 per cent so we actually have a higher proportion of women working in technology in the region,” said Retzlaff.

The tech industry and many others will be spotlighted at The Black Press Extreme Education and Career Fair will be held March 12 from 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Okanagan College. For more information click here.

Related: Growing demand for skilled workers in wine industry

Retzlaff credits the number of women in technology to educational intuitions in the area and regular meetups that focus on women in technology which promotes awareness.

“What we’re starting to see as an overall shift in technology is the awareness that diversity is an asset when building out a team,” she said.

In the past, it was more of a male-dominated industry focusing on those with engineering degrees, but now more diversity in the workplace contributes to building a stronger team, said Retzlaff.

“One of the common misconceptions is that you have to be a developer or know code, or an engineer, but there’s a lot of other diverse roles if you’re not part of that traditional stem.”

Christien Kopas is an example of that, working in the dental tech industry as a customer relations management officer and digital implementation specialist at Schell Dental Ceramics Digital Division. Her job revolves around training dental clinics on how to use new, advanced equipment.

She entered the field as a dental assistant and used her skill-set she developed for her role in the tech industry.

“It’s a male-dominated field… so has it been challenging? Not really because what I enjoy is actually connecting people. Women that are getting into this technology are becoming connectors,” she said.

Dental teams are also formed to learn about the new technologies.

“In one moment, if a dentist makes a decision to go digital, so they want to start creating patient’s teeth in 3D and emailing them to the dentist, (the dentist’s team’s) entire job is completely changed in one day,” she said. “Our job here is to facilitate training and support for teams so they are able to do that.”

Kopas’s role with technology is just one of the many careers available in tech throughout the Okanagan.

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