I am a woman in tech - hear me roar!
This post is written by Catherine Vu, Chief Uptime Officer of Pro-Active Management IT Inc.
I AM A WOMAN IN TECH! You have no idea how difficult those 6 words have been to say. I know that seems like an anomaly as I have been running my own tech company, Pro-Active IT Management, for almost 10 years. I used to cringe every time people acknowledged me as a tech, and had to quickly explain that I do not actually do that work myself. Why did I act this way? The hard truth? I am a recovering perfectionist. It is exceptionally hard for me to take credit for something I am not doing hands on. Simply put, I don’t do the coding and troubleshooting…hence, I was not a tech.
Fortunately, I was chosen by the Canadian Trade Commissioner as one of 12 women in tech to come to Silicon Valley in May for a mentorship program called TechWomen Canada. And let me tell you: what an amazing, eye-opening, mind blowing week! We were treated like royalty and introduced to all the “cool” people of the Valley, most of them Canadian expatriates. Yeah!! The program was created to give us a taste of what life in the Valley is like, and believe me, it was incredibly challenging for me at first. I felt like a fish out of water...a fraud. Happily, and with a little help, I realized: I built this tech business and I am good at it!
Less than a week after I came back to Canada, I was at AccelerateAB. I was happy to hear more stories of successes and failures from the Valley. The whole day demonstrated how collaborative and supportive the A100 and C100 is of tech entrepreneurs and startups. That was the moment! My mind was suddenly accepting what I already decided at the conclusion of my Silicon Valley experience, that I am a woman in tech! I should do what I love, which is network and connect with people, however this time I will focus all my vast networking and relationships skills on the tech communities in Edmonton and AB. How fortunate for me that the AB tech community is so strong right here in my own backyard!
In the words of Shaherose Charania who spoke at AccelerateAB, women in tech need to stop making excuses. We are good enough, and we need to get out there and "try, try, try..." This was another revelation for me, as I have spent my whole life avoiding failures. But guess what? Failures are celebrated in the Valley! Who knew? I am kind of scared at how freeing this will be once I commit to let go of this fear. I think this is the reason why there are so few women in tech. We sometimes over complicate things and don't like to put ourselves out there to fail and be judged. But isn't this why startups are so fun? (if you think rollercoasters are fun!)
I am confident that when I stand tall, all 4'11” of me as a woman in tech, that the opportunities will be bountiful. Who knows where this will lead in the future, but I am excited about this new path, thanks to AccelerateAB and TechWomen Canada. I am now committed to seeking out other women in tech lurking in the shadows, where I once was, and together we can empower and support young girls who might be interested in tech to GO FOR IT!