Science, Tech, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields of study and employment offer ever-increasing career opportunities. However, there exist several disparities along gender lines between the percentage of undergraduate students studying, and later working in STEM fields.
But what if there existed a way to transition into the lucrative technology sector from another career stream? One that offers greater occasion for women to make inroads into a sector still predominated by men?
In the early 2000s, the expansion of Canadian tech companies necessitated the creation of positions that granted entry into the industry for those with what would be previously excluded backgrounds. Alongside career paths that require degrees in science, mathematics, or other STEM programs, related industries rose out of a necessity to keep the commodities that STEM advancements produced, available to a growing number of consumers. In Waterloo, Kameela Razack was able to step into one such industry.
When beginning her undergraduate degree at University of Waterloo, Razack initially aimed toward a career in teaching or business, majoring in business and professional writing. Early on in her post-secondary education, she realized the school’s courses and faculty were more geared toward the technology and engineering sectors. So Razack began looking for ways to leverage her skill set into a tech industry career before finding a position as a technical writer at Cisco Systems Inc. As she puts it, “I sometimes say that by studying at UW. I was almost forced into the tech industry because of the high demand for writers and communicators at these booming companies.”
Adjusting to a new career-path wasn’t easy. The majority of Razack’s co-workers either possessed, or were working toward degrees in software development or engineering — which might pose as a severe disadvantage in a competitive work environment — but she was able to leverage her co-workers’ technical knowledge into an understanding of Cisco’s systems, software, and terminology. However, her journey into the tech industry didn’t end there. Kameela credits the connections she made working at Cisco with providing her the opportunity to move into the next stage of her career, completing a Masters of International Business in Shanghai.
At a crossroads between returning to the tech sector, and continuing in the world of international business, Kameela opted for a career path that offered elements of both. Now working as an IT project manager, she recommends that more women enter into STEM oriented careers, either by way of formal education or personal study when the occasion arises. In her words, entry into the field offers “a huge advantage and can open doors to some amazing opportunities both at home and abroad.”
The tech industry is constantly growing alongside the level of complexity of the products it offers to consumers. The career opportunities continue to expand in tandem with the industry, offering exponential bases on which to establish and grow a career. As Kameela Razack’s journey has shown, the decision to make the transition into the tech industry is never too late, and serves as an avenue for women to enter the field. This takes great strides in addressing the gender imbalance in STEM related fields. As with any venture that champions the cause of equality, the more the merrier.