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While some of your skills may be transferable to the tech industry, you may also need additional training.jacoblund/Getty Images

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Ask Women and Work

Question: After working in the public sector for nearly 10 years, I’m considering a career change to a space outside of my wheelhouse: tech. I feel it would allow me more flexibility on where I work (city/country) and how I work (remote vs. in-office). Plus, I know the industry is underrepresented when it comes to women and I wonder if it might give me a leg up. Is it possible to transition to the tech industry without getting another degree?

We asked Kimberly Simon, vice-president, partnerships and alliances, ControlCase, to tackle this one:

It’s absolutely possible. Transitioning to a career in tech does not require another degree, but it does require that you do some planning.

Three steps are key. The first is to think about what you want to do in tech and get clear about the kind of job you want. There are two types of roles to consider: technical roles like coding and ethical hacking, and non-technical roles like project management and helping customers. Your transition to tech may simply involve doing the same type of role you are doing now, be it HR or marketing or communications, just in a growing tech company.

Do some research about the job you want. What does a typical work week would look like in that role? Reach out to people who are doing it; you’ll find that a lot of people are happy to share. Once you choose the path you want to pursue, it has to excite you, because it’s not an easy thing to transition. That should keep you motivated as you move forward.

The next step is to boost your confidence by upping your skills. Some of your skills may be transferable, but you will likely have to invest some time into learning new ones. You may need to take a project management course or Salesforce training. Dedicate that time, energy and resources into filling your knowledge gaps. LinkedIn has free courses if you have a paid LinkedIn membership. Organizations like ISACA offer paid courses, which will cost anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000. You can also take courses from a reputable university or college.

The final thing you need to do is build your profile and brand. Take what you did in steps one and two – the research into the job you want and the new skills you’ve gained – and put that into your resumé and on LinkedIn. It’s about switching the conversation and highlighting your strengths in relation to that job you want.

Establish yourself as a knowledgeable professional. Start posting stories related to the industry you want to join. Connect with people on social media who are working in tech. Over time, this can attract followers and recruiters. Even if it doesn’t, you’ll be better prepared to confidently go into an interview in your new industry. Attend industry events and make connections there. Women make up only 30 per cent of the people working in the tech world. This creates a unique opportunity to join the field because a lot of employers are looking to diversify their teams.

Research shows that women don’t get into IT because of imposter syndrome. Silence that voice that is telling you that you cannot do it and make a plan. I think what people need to remember is tech companies value smart and creative people. We don’t care where you’re coming from. If you’re smart and creative and if you’re willing to do the work, you can do well, very fast.

Submit your own questions to Ask Women and Work by e-mailing us at

This week’s must-read stories on women and work

Women lead here – but why do so many of them leave?

“Honestly? I’m worried I’m next.”

The woman spoke plainly – there was no place for you-go-girl platitudes in this focus group. She’d just recounted the recent experience of watching a string of VP-level women colleagues burn out and bail on their impressive careers at her employer, sparking this moment of lucid revelation.

“She saw that her company was doing nothing,” says Julie Savard-Shaw, executive director of the Prosperity Project, a charity dedicated to mitigating the impact of the pandemic on Canadian women, which had convened a discussion to hash out some of the most pressing gender-equity issues affecting workplaces today in the lead-up to its annual report card on the matter. “So, she was wondering: What is it going to take for organizations to change things, so that women don’t get to that point?”

The speaker’s comment strikes a nerve. Because a lot of women are, in fact, getting to that point.

Read highlights from The Globe and Mail’s fifth annual benchmark of gender diversity in corporate Canada.

Inuk designer April Allen is bringing culture to the catwalk

Backstage at Sony Hall in New York, April Allen felt a rush of nervousness. As the lights dimmed, she stood wearing red trimmed boots with wool pom poms made by her late mother. She was at New York Fashion Week, about to present her designs in front of some of the world’s most elite fashion observers, representing not just herself, but her community, ancestors and culture.

Most of the models in her February show were from her own traditional Inuit region – Nunatsiavut, which means “our beautiful land” in Inuttitut, in Newfoundland and Labrador. They stood around her, dressed in caribou fur skirts, sealskin vests with applique blossoms and fox fur-trimmed boots glistening with beadwork. Allen crafted these designs using the same skills and traditional materials her mother and grandmother did, but with a sexy modern edge. She watched as the models strut onto the catwalk, wearing “a piece of our rich history.”

Read how April Allen is creating a booming business with the skills her mother taught her as a child.

Can negotiating tactics help close the gender pay gap?

Statistics Canada’s latest Labour Force Survey shows that the gender wage gap in Canada has declined over time, but remains persistent. In February 2024, “women aged 25 to 54 earned 87 cents for every dollar earned by men of the same age group.”

Additionally, recent findings from the Pew Research Center show that in the U.S. women earn an average of 82 per cent of what men earn. In 2002, women earned 80 per cent as much as men.

Pay gaps can be calculated in a few different ways. Some calculations may just look at base pay while others include bonuses and commissions or only look at full- or part-time employees.

“Any way you slice it, there’s a gap,” says Jillian Climie, co-founder of The Thoughtful Co., a Canadian consultancy that exclusively works with women in negotiating their compensation.

Explore the three mistakes to avoid when negotiating a salary.

In case you missed it

How to make the most out of a mentor-mentee relationship

“The first thing that has to happen in a mentor-mentee relationship is the mentee needs to be clear on what they want the mentor to help them with,” says Jay-Ann Gilfoy, chief executive officer of Meridian Credit Union. “Is it networking? Is it life experience? Is it work experience? Is it leadership skills? I think oftentimes people confuse a mentor with a coach or a manager. For me, a mentor is somebody who’s sitting alongside you as you’re going through your life, to help you, guide you and share with you some of their lived experiences.

“The role of the mentor is to break the ice and make sure the environment is set up for success. You don’t need to jump into asking the mentee their life goals. Start off with things like: Tell me about you. What do you like to do for fun? Here’s something about me. Find some common interests. You also need to establish the rules of engagement. How often are we going to meet? Let’s have a formalized kind of structure with regular check-in dates.”

Read the full article.

From the archives

Why young women should be on boards

Joanne Zhou had always wanted to serve on a board of directors. But despite years of volunteer involvement with community organizations, the Toronto-based health coach and registered dietician didn’t think she had the experience to land a role.

Ms. Zhou, 28, recalls envisioning the role of a director as something only “leaders in society” could take on.

“I wasn’t sure, as a young woman, how I would actually be able to contribute,” she says.

That changed when Ms. Zhou joined the 2020 cohort of Girls on Boards, an initiative facilitated by non-profit organization Fora: Network for Change.

Each year, Girls on Boards selects thirty diverse emerging leaders aged 18 to 25 who take on roles as full voting directors on boards of various non-profit organizations across Canada.

Read the full article.

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