Humera Malik is founder and CEO of Toronto-based industrial AI company Canvass Analytics. She is also on the jury of the Women In Cleantech Challenge, which is accepting applications until July 13 at www.womenincleantech.ca.
It is often said, but bears repeating, that women are significantly underrepresented in the innovation economy, with one recent report finding that only 5 per cent of Canadian technology companies have a solo female founder or chief executive.
Such representation is similar – and arguably worse – when the focus is on the clean-technology sector. Where women do have a presence, they typically occupy junior roles in marketing, communications or finance, not senior roles in engineering or in the C-Suite.
The federal government recently recognized that this gender gap, particularly in areas of innovation, is inhibiting economic growth by leaving skilled talent on the table. It’s also limiting diversity of perspective, which research shows is essential to building economic resilience. The 2018 budget highlighted the need to boost the percentage of female-owned companies in the technology sector by providing more women the opportunities they need to succeed, while also removing barriers holding some back. At the same time, the last two federal budgets identified the growth of Canada’s cleantech sector as a national priority.
It stands to reason that getting more female innovators to build and run companies that are tackling some of the world’s biggest environmental and climate challenges presents a great opportunity for the country.
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