Changing the Ratio in Tech: Let’s Do It Better, Waterloo Region

It’s not news that Silicon Valley, and the tech sector in general, has a problem with so-called “bro culture”. A quick Google search reveals some of the issues, for anyone who’s been living under a rock for the past few years: lack of diversity, the self-congratulatory claims of the field being a “meritocracy”, out-and-out discrimination, and the list goes on…

Overwhelmingly most important, in my opinion, is the fact that 95% of white men in Silicon Valley don’t believe diversity is a top problem.

I’m not going to waste time detailing the reasons this is important. Many, many people have shouted it from the rooftops, again and again. We need to BELIEVE them. More importantly, we need to step up and do something about it.

Waterloo Region is known for its oft-cited barnraising culture, and for lending a hand to those in need. However, we need to start making sure we’re lifting up all who need it, not just people we want to have beers with.

We are poised on the edge of an immense opportunity. Waterloo Region, with its wealth of existing tech workers and companies, world-class post-secondary institutions, and proximity to the Toronto tech ecosystem, has all the pieces to create Silicon Valley North.

My challenge, to all of us, is to create something better than that.

The diversity of our citizens in this country only continues to grow. The Canadian government is, happily, maintaining its support of the entry of newcomers and refugees. In the wake of the controversial U.S. executive order and travel ban our own Canadian tech community penned an open letter of support for diversity.

It’s time to go beyond words.

My challenge to all of us, and particularly those with the power (hi, straight white men): we’ve got the ability to change this. Tweet at us @HiveWR with #ChangeTheRatioWR (or email to join the movement. In the meantime, I hope to see many of you out next Wednesday as we celebrate International Women’s Day with our second annual Change the Ratio Waterloo Region event, featuring speakers diving into the ways we can start fixing this.

It starts with you. It starts with all of us. Let’s do this.

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Stephanie Rozek

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