Melanie Ewan, Program Director of Driving WinTech, drove across Canada with a team in Fall 2017 on a fact-finding mission to understand and record the experiences of women in technology.
Wavefront lent the team 30 devices from our Wireless Zone to conduct the community conversations, where they heard the struggles, opportunities and personal stories of women across the country. Melanie shares her experience from the trip, below.
When I arrived back in Vancouver, one of the first questions I was asked was, “if you could describe the tour in three words, what would they be?”. I took the opportunity to amuse myself by answering, “there’s no words”. Sure, it wasn’t grammatically correct, but it earned a few laughs and allowed me to deflect the question for at least a few moments.
The truth is, even after being home for three weeks, I still don’t have a succinct and satisfying answer to the question, “how was it?”. The best I’ve come up with involves a convoluted description of a wonderfully intense and transformative adventure full of learning and growth – a journey that forged deep friendships and uncovered a treasure trove of ideas to explore.
Cross Canada Tour
Between September 5th and November 6th, the Driving WinTech team managed and facilitated 31 community conversations from coast to coast in communities of all sizes, economies and demographics. We talked to over 800 people, predominantly women, who told us about their experiences in the tech industry. We listened to what is currently helping and hindering women’s success in their community, and what they would like to see included in an action plan for change.
Not surprisingly, there were a few key themes that arose as we travelled across the country. We will share these themes in depth with the release of our National Report in 2018. It didn’t take long to also learn that every community is completely unique with its own set of challenges and solutions, driven by differences in economy, history, demographics, influencers, resources and the state of their tech and startup sectors.
We have so many stories to tell, from our sold-out conversation in Sault Ste Marie to the high school tech programs in Fort McMurray; from the aurora borealis in Whitehorse to our parking lot night in Cape Spear, Newfoundland. There was duct tape, dead zones, late night drives and dinosaur parks. Pretty much anything and everything you could imagine from a nine-week cross country tour in a 1991 Winnebago; despite the bumps and bruises, we wouldn’t change a thing.
As I sit in the comfort and warmth of my home office, it’s hard to believe that only a few weeks ago we were travelling down bumpy roads in the biting winds of Atlantic Canada. While the road trip is over, our journey has just begun. Now that we’re back we are focused on analyzing and transforming the data collected, with the goal of publishing our Driving Women in Tech National Report in March 2018, followed by a set of regional playbooks for each province that we visited.
We want to take a moment to extend our heartfelt thanks to the 100+ volunteers, 85+ Community Partners and 100+ backers that helped us complete this national community-based research tour. We could not have done this without each and every one of you. Special thanks to Wavefront, who loaned us 30 devices for the research tour so that we could record 142 hours of conversations.
I’m off to transcribe some data, but look forward to checking in again in the new year. Happy Holidays!
Weren’t able to make it to a community conversation?
It’s not too late to add your voice to the conversation. Our Driving WinTech survey will remain open until December 31, 2017. Stay tuned for our National Report from the tour in early 2018, Regional Playbooks for each community that we visited and additional insights and stories from the road.