The last year has been punctuated by emerging stories around the various aspects of diversity in the workplace. We've covered them aplenty. A year ago, I filmed a conversation with Cindy Jutras who led a session at PowerPlex 2015 on women in technology. It sold out in record time and was the first fully booked session at that year's event. I said at the time I'd like to revisit the topic and that happened at PowerPlex 2016. Please see below for the vide recording.
While Cindy didn't get into too many details, it was good to hear her say:
There's now a line in the ladies room at PowerPlex
That might sound trite but it is a firm indication that women are making the kind of progress in technology roles that they are comfortable attending what are otherwise 'white, middle aged men's' events.
It was also refreshing to hear Cindy make the often but obvious point that women have to work in what is essentially a man's world. In her world view, it is up to women to demonstrate their abilities rather than plead for equal treatment. That approach is always tough but in taking that position, Cindy is ensuring that women take on board the responsibilities they can.
One nuance that's easy to miss. The manufacturing plant floor is far more automated today than it was in the past. The days of the greasy, grimy factory are not completely gone but manufacturing facilities are no longer the kind of place you'd rather NOT have a woman working. Indeed, on our tour of MFC Netform, we saw plenty of women working side by side on the plant floor.
It's always gratifying to revisit a difficult topics to assess progress and while the gender agenda may not have moved forward in leaps and bounds, steady progress is evident.
What might we see in another year? I cannot predict with any certainty but it is the efforts of Cindy and her peers that will shape the picture.