Women make up 20 per cent of the high-tech workforce in B.C., far less than the national average.
But three young women at UBC Okanagan are changing that statistic.
Emily Medema, Angie Pinchbeck and Marlie Russell have each been awarded $10,000 women in technology scholarships by the Irving K. Barber BC Scholarship Society. The scholarships recognize exceptionally high-calibre students seeking degrees in computer science, engineering, and math.
Medea, of Vernon, is in her second year of an undergraduate degree in computer science.
“Computer science provides me with an outlet for both my logical and creative sides,” she says. “Sadly, there’s a lack of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and the tech industry. I believe we’re an untapped asset for any company operating in that space, and indeed for STEM fields as a whole.”
Pinchbeck, a fourth-year undergraduate student, is pursuing a double major in math and computer science.
“I never would have guessed I would end up pursuing math and computer science,” says Pinchbeck. “I was in the midst of a journalism degree that wasn’t really working for me when I took a programming class and loved it."
She plans to continue her education in machine learning, calling it "a field that will undoubtedly reshape the world in which we live.”
“As women, we need to see and support each other in these industries – especially in computer science, which was originally a female dominated field.”
Russell, from Williams Lake, is also working towards an undergraduate degree in computer science. As a former wildfire fighter, she says she hopes her past experience can help shape her future in the tech industry.
“My goal is to return to the Cariboo region and apply my skills in technology to the natural resource sector," she says.
“Encouraging more women to enter these fields will bring untold potential to the tech sector,” Deborah Buszard, UBC Okanagan’s deputy vice-chancellor, added.