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Humber presents IT options for women


Almost 300 local Grade 9 students wanting to learn about opportunities for women in IT attended the Canadian Information Processing Society's (CIPS) conference, Women in IT: Looking Towards the Future on May 15 at Humber College.
Louise Bardswich, right, dean of the Humber School of Information Technology, talks with Grade 9 students from the Toronto and Peel District School Boards about opportunities for women in IT.


"Humber has seen a 50% drop in the percentage of women taking IT programs in the past two years, yet industry tells us that they're looking for soft skills such as communications to complement IT skills in the workplace. Women have traditionally done well in these areas," says Louise Bardswich, dean of the Humber School of Information Technology. "Graduates are getting jobs now and, in three or four years, I feel that the industry will be looking at a shortage of job seekers with an IT education."

Women in IT is an annual educational event directed at high school girls. The event aims to rid girls of their misconceptions about IT careers and to teach them about opportunities in the field.

Currently, only 15% to 20% of IT graduates at Canadian universities are women.

CIPS hopes to increase the number of women pursuing IT careers through this event, along with support from the IT sector, government, educators and parents.

"We want to teach girls that IT is not about sitting at a computer all day long typing in code. In reality, IT is an exciting career that uses technologies, people and other resources to solve real-life problems such as fighting terrorism and enabling better communications," said Karen Lopez, I.S.P., CIPS Director and Spokesperson. "As well, IT is flexible and allows women to work with people from all walks of life anywhere in the world." The Women in IT event featured keynote speaker Alice Thomas discussing the courage to succeed.

"Women are now competing on equal footing with men, and we now have a choice whether to pursue a higher level career," said keynote speaker Alice Thomas, v-p. of e-commerce and customer care solutions at CGI. "Those women that are being faced with a glass ceiling also have a choice, to persevere and break down the walls, or to move on and find employers that value the leadership skills that women bring."

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Centennial College students, graduates and employees are taking the lead on an initiative to restore prosperity to Chinese and other small businesses eager to get their cash registers ringing again in the wake of the SARS scare.

"We're keen to bring our business to a community we know very well," says Centennial College president Richard Johnston. "Centennial has far more than 100,000 students and graduates. Together with their families, we represent significant purchasing power."

The Communities Helping Communities campaign is set to run for the next month. Participating merchants agree to offer a discount on goods and services to college students and grads, and in some cases, to members of the public.

As the campaign gains momentum, organizers hope to attract all kinds of small business owners who will be asked to display a campaign logo.

Centennial has deep roots in the Chinese-Canadian community, having delivered courses in Chinese, offered English as a second language, and training and small-business advice to Chinese entrepreneurs settling in Canada.

Centennial is one of the most culturally diverse post-secondary institutions in the country, with almost 100 ethnocultural groups represented and 80 languages spoken on campus.

Small business owners are invited to join the campaign by calling 416-289-5262 to get on the list of participating merchants.


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