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An association aimed at encouraging Canadian women to have careers in IT has gained another big enterprise backer.

The Royal Bank of Canada said today it has become a national sponsor of CanWIT (Canadian Women in Information Technology), an organization that helps recruit women in technology and technology-related roles.

RBC joins the TD Bank, CIBC, Accenture, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Cisco Systems Canada as sponsors.

RBC’s participation was in part sparked by Jennifer Stott, the institution’s vice-president of investor and treasury services for IT. “I always enjoyed science and math at school, so a job in technology seemed like an obvious choice,” she said in a statement. “But it turns out it’s not so obvious to most people. In fact, when I tell people I’m a technology executive, they’re often surprised. That perception is one of the things that we are trying to change.”

There are an estimated 5,400 women in IT across the country. Women make up 47 per cent of the overall Canadian workforce, but have only 24 per cent representation in Canada’s technology workforce. An even smaller percentage are managers. RBC says 44 per cent of its IT and operations staff is made up of women.

Stott also co-chairs RBC’s  Women in Technology & Operations (WiTO) employee group. “Ultimately, we want to make sure that the work we’re doing not only benefits our RBC colleagues, but also helps to encourage women across Canada to choose a career in technology.”

Rob Muroff, the other WiTO co-chair, said in an interview that RBC’s participation in CanWIT gives the bank’s staff an opportunity to participate in the association’s programs. At the same time, he added, it give the bank the opportunity to do some recruiting at those sessions. RBC is the second largest IT employer in the country, he said, behind the federal government.

In the near future the bank will sponsor an annual award for women and their work on an IT project, he said.

Diversity is one of the bank’s corporate values, Muroff said.  “We’ve looked  for ways to showcase RBC as an employer of choice for
women in the industry, and this was a good relationship for us to build”

“We’re thrilled to have RBC as a national sponsor,” CanWIT CEO Sandra Wear said in a statement. “Together we share an interest in building a thriving national technology community that reflects gender diversity. We will be working together to make sure we have more women in technology related roles.”

CanWIT, founded in 2005, is a branch of the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATA), and industry trade group. It offers a number of support programs for women, including mentorship initiatives, networking events, professional development and advocacy.

Wear founded DocSpace, a SaaS company that was acquired for $568M at close. She was also CEO & founder of Atalum Wireless, which makes a SaaS platform for managing ZigBee wireless networks.

CanWIT’s chair and former CEO is Dr. Catherine Aczel Boiviee, who had been senior vice-president of information technology and facility management at Vancity Credit Union.



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