#ImmigrationMatters in Halifax, Nova Scotia - Welcoming women to technology

Welcoming women to technology

October 9, 2018


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Ulrike Bahr-Gedalia at the Digital Diversity Awards

Ulrike Bahr-Gedalia has spent the past 15 years earning a reputation as a tireless connector, building bridges between people and jobs, industry and government, companies and opportunities.

Of course, as president and CEO of Digital Nova Scotia, that’s her job: Digital Nova Scotia is the key industry association for the province’s $2.5 billion IT and digital technologies sector. Members range from start-ups to multinationals and include universities, colleges, government and non-profits.

But those who have worked with Ulrike over the years say her work is more a calling than a job – an ideal channel for someone who seems instinctively driven to put people in touch with the resources they need to excel. And while Ulrike is passionate about encouraging everyone from children to other CEOs, she is renowned in Halifax for her support of women working to make it in technology.

Opening doors

Ulrike’s willingness to reach out to people and help them build networks and get in the door is incredible. She has been an integral part of our campaign. We need more women leaders like her for girls and women to look up to. I plan to continue to engage her in any way that I can.

Adrienne Power, development officer, Faculty of Computer Science, Dalhousie University

For example, 2018 was the third year for the Digital Diversity Awards she developed. The awards honour female leadership and organizations that focus on gender diversity and inclusion, to encourage Nova Scotia’s next generation of women leaders.

Ulrike says that there are still far too few women in the IT sector. “I’ve experienced that myself for many years, and I have a daughter”, she says. “We’re trying to bring awareness to advancing women into senior leadership roles”.

She recalls that as a newcomer in Halifax looking for work, her first thought was to contact other women. She called the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women and spoke with executive director Brigitte Neuman, a fellow immigrant from Germany who helped her land her first job in tech.

“Having lived, worked and studied in 5 other countries, I knew that networks and local connections play an important role in success”.

Ulrike has herself been a mentor to many since then, and has received numerous leadership awards. She was honoured with the WXN Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award in 2015, 2016 and 2017, and was a recipient of the RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award in 2015.

Today, along with her role with Digital Nova Scotia, she’s an elected member of the International Women’s Forum and sits on industry advisory boards with Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Computer Science and the Sobey School of Business at Saint Mary’s University.

Adrienne Power, a development officer in the Faculty of Computer Science at Dalhousie, works on a campaign called “We are all CS” that aims to double the number of women in computer science. She says having Ulrike on the board has been “incredibly important” for the initiative.

“She sees the need to support women and challenge those barriers in technology. I don’t know where we would have started without her”.

Immigration profile: Halifax, Nova Scotia (Census Metropolitan Area)

Quick facts:

  • Immigrants in Halifax make up almost 10% of the population.
  • Between 1980 and 2016, 60% of all immigrants who came to Halifax were economic immigrants, while almost ¼ were sponsored by family and 15% were refugees.
  • Nearly 500,000 immigrants working in Canada are trained in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

Did you know?

  • Halifax is home to Pier 21, a National Historic Site, which was the gateway to Canada for a million immigrants between 1928 and 1971.

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