On March 8, Waterloo Region and its thriving tech community will be celebrating International Women’s day with a spotlight on how some of the Region’s most influential women are shaping the tech sphere. The sold out event, entitled Celebrating Women of Influence in Tech, will be hosted by CIGI and will involve a discussion panel that focuses on how women in KW are shaping the future of tech, and how to support incoming generations in creating positive change in technology focused roles.

In today’s uncertain political and economic climate, celebrating women in leadership roles and the discussion of mentoring women to feel more confident reaching such roles, is a theme that the panel hopes to emulate.

“It started as Vidyard’s idea to celebrate International Women’s Day in the KW Region and it really became a community initiative because we are such a tech based region and we wanted to celebrate the women who help make that happen,” Amanda da Silva, the moderator of the panel remarked.

The event will include Hillary Hartley, Jessica McElhone, Christine Tutssel and Dr. Timiebi Aganaba-Jeanty. These panel members all come from multiple sectors of the tech industry such as government, tech markets, strategy and academia.

The representation and experiences of the panel members reflect KW’s vibrant and diverse leaders in all areas of the tech industry. Aganaba-Jeanty, a post-doctoral fellow with CIGI’s International Law Program, is the only academic on the panel with previous experience at the Nigerian Space Agency and the executive director of the World Space Week Association. Aganaba-Jeanty’s satellite and climate change research, as well as her work for the Ladies Do Launch network, is vital in connecting the local community and the wider global technology today.

Aganaba-Jeanty wants to bring her leadership experience to the Ladies Do Launch network to provide a community of women in space leadership roles to mentor and inspire multigenerational women in the field throughout their careers.

Aganaba-Jeanty’s focus on the panel is on inclusivity and the space industry, an extremely relevant tech topic today after the achievement of Elon Musk’s Space X achievement and the growing benefits of the space industry. According to Aganaba-Jeanty, the space industry should be about inclusivity: including everyone, as space affects everyone, and involving women in the space industry beyond support roles. She will also focus on the retention of women in the STEM by providing a network of women in leadership roles to younger female generations.

“When I went to the Waterloo Women event at the University of Waterloo, there were female graduate students in STEM who did not see how they could move up simply because there are a limited amount of role models and mentors in these fields,” she said.

“After their studies or breaking in these fields, they see less advancement and poor mentorship to move past a strong sense [of] imposter syndrome. I want these young women to see women in leadership roles who will show them that they can take risks without everything crashing down.”