Moving the Dial for Women in Tech with Jodi Kovitz
Industry Insight Entrepreneur and women in tech activist, Jodi Kovitz, shares how she is striving to empower women and reduce the gender gap in tech.
As founder and CEO of #movethedial, an organization that aims to increase the participation of women in the tech industry, Jodi Kovitz is a dynamic force in Canada’s tech scene. Since its inception two years ago, #movethedial has scaled rapidly into a global movement and a community of thousands.
But Kovitz’ journey to success involved many twists and turns. Seven years into a successful law career, she realized she wasn’t making the kind of impact she wanted to. “I felt like I’d lost my way,” she says. “I forgot my sense of purpose.”
Armed with an entrepreneurial spirit (Kovitz started her first company at age 16), her infamous “Just Say Hello” philosophy, and guidance from inspiring mentors, she carved a brand new path. Kovitz credits her success to discipline, hard work, and the numerous mentors in her life. “My life has been a series of moments of listening to people who truly believe in my success,” she says.
After five years as Business Growth and Innovation Lead at Osler, Kovitz made her jump into Canada’s tech scene as the CEO of AceTech Ontario (now Peerscale), a non-profit organization connecting CEOs and leaders of tech scaleups. It was there she fully realized the sector’s problematic gender gap and felt inspired to create change.
We spoke to Jodi Kovitz about a career in tech and why female empowerment is the key to the future of Canada’s digital economy.
Mediaplanet: What drew you to a career in technology?
Jodi Kovitz: There were a few distinct moments. In late 2017, I had the opportunity to speak in front of 130 tech leaders. I looked around and realized that only about three percent of the leaders in the room were women. It was a stark difference from my experience in the legal industry, where I was surrounded by powerful female leaders. Standing in that room was a wake-up call for me to affect change and it’s what inspired me to start #movethedial.
MP: What are some of the challenges facing the industry?
JK: Despite being one of the fastest-moving and fastest-growing industries, the tech sector still has a long way to go in closing the gender gap. Women comprise 13 percent of the average tech company’s executive team, while 53 percent of tech companies have no female executives. If Canada wants to lead the way in innovation, we can’t let women sit on the sidelines — we have too much to gain with a more inclusive and diverse tech sector.
MP: What lies ahead for #movethedial?
JK: We recently released our first report on gender equality in the Canadian tech ecosystem called Where’s The Dial Now?, in partnership with PwC and MaRs. This report tells us that though the gender gap is still wide, there are effective ways we can move the dial for the women and girls in our lives. We’re also excited about our upcoming #movethedial Global Summit on November 7, 2018.
MP: What advice do you have for young girls and women?
JK: Seek out mentors that will support and guide you, take the time to create meaningful relationships, and build your network! Also, don’t be afraid to step into the unknown or take risks that move you outside of your comfort zone.