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Perspectives on technology accelerating
gender equality on International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day is a global day to recognize and celebrate women’s achievements. In honour of the day, we took to CIRA’s hallways and gathered some of our colleagues’ top resources and insights on tech and inclusivity.

This year, the theme for International Women’s Day is Invest in women: accelerate progress. Investing in gender equality enables us to transform challenges into opportunities, helping shape a better future for all.  And so, with technology and our people central to everything we do at CIRA, we asked our team to answer the same question:

How can technology help accelerate gender equality?

We partnered with talented illustrator (and .CA owner!) Katrin Emery to illustrate portraits of our team to showcase their perspectives visually. Read more about how Katrin is turning art into entrepreneurship.

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Amanda Swain, Director, Engineering

Day to day in-person encounters often result in judgement over race, class, disability, or how someone presents themself. But online, it’s often possible to mask or obscure indicators of identity or choose entirely new ones. This can have the enormous benefit of allowing those who are often excluded or marginalized to be fully included. Internet tech enables us to meet people where and how they want to be met, so they can feel empowered to engage, organize and express themselves more openly. This has allowed marginalized and oppressed communities to find effective platforms to come together and share their messages with the wider world. While, like any technology, these new opportunities come with new risks and can be misused, the power that internet tech offers marginalized peoples is truly unprecedented. It should be supported and celebrated!

Resource: Amanda recommends the Broken Earth trilogy by N.K. Jemisin—a series that showcases two women who grapple with what it means to hold power in a world of desperate people.

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Dhara Vyas, Compliance officer

Technology has opened doors to women that were previously difficult to enter, by easing access to information. It’s easier to take online courses, acquire domains, set up e-shops and get into trades. Technology makes content like videos, podcasts and e-books that showcase how women have achieved success readily available so that others can see how individuals with similar stories have achieved their goals and strive to do the same.

Resource: Dhara’s favourite podcast, Brown Girl Trending, explores work situations, success stories and career information for women of colour with host Meera Hardin.

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Glenna Tapper, Senior communications manager

Technology, at its best, grants us immediate access to almost infinite diverse perspectives and resources. Training opportunities, education, digital communities and more are readily available and can be used to help empower marginalized groups and individuals alike.

Resource: Glenna’s recent favourite read is The Syrian Ladies Benevolent Society by Toronto-based writer, playwright and journalist, Christine Estima.

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Monika Sofrenovic, Marketing specialist

Technology amplifies inclusivity by giving everyone an equal voice. Through CIRA’s success stories, I’ve witnessed how tech empowers female entrepreneurs, fostering a diverse narrative and showcasing the impact of innovation on equality.

Resource: Monika recommends The Hey Girl Podcast hosted by author Alex Elle. Alex has intimate conversations with phenomenal women on things like sisterhood, storytelling and selfcare.

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Philip Crout, Technical solutions specialist

Technology enables people to communicate. The internet levels the playing field by not caring about who you are, but by connecting you to tools and resources you need. It allows you to review new perspectives. It bridges people and ideas together world-wide, no longer limiting you to the bias of your local community and makes the world available. This is why I believe in CIRA’s mission of making internet more accessible and secure for communities.

Resource: Philip loves to converse with a childhood friend about feminist issues—this has helped shape his perspective and enabled him to recognize his own biases and privilege. He also thought Barbie was great.

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Rick Koeller, Director, Planning & risk

I’ve had the opportunity to accompany my wife as she visited schools throughout South Africa via the NetCorps program. We witnessed the internet’s impact as a great equalizer in terms of education and resources. Access to the internet is an essential tool to help reduce the gap between those who have and those who don’t, especially for girls and women. My sister is also heavily involved in a number of Women in STEM programs, and I’ve seen firsthand how technology enables educational opportunities for all. I’m proud of my wife and sister’s work and appreciate technology’s ability to help equalize education both in Canada and abroad.

Resource: Rick’s sister is involved with the Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing, an organization that promotes programs like Girls in Mathematical Sciences, GIRLsmarts4tech and Women in Computer Science.