Qixing Zheng is a Microsoft User Experience Advisor. But she’s also the driving force at Microsoft behind both encouraging more women to join IT and to help them gain acceptance once they’ve joined the industry.
Zheng has been traveling across Canada all year as part of Microsoft Tech Days, and along the way she’s been informally networking women in IT at lunch and dinner meetings. Those meetings have already provided tangible benefits here in Vancouver, she says, with senior IT professional meeting their junior counterparts. Without this initiative, it’s likely they would have never met, Zheng said.
Though admittedly programmers have their best years behind them by 35 or older, Zheng said there are even more challenges facing women in IT. Besides high-stress and long hours, they’re also usually called upon to tend to family and have to deal with childbirth, not to mention dealing with changing but still prevalent sexism in their chosen industry.
Zheng specifically cited the CATA Women in Technology Forum as a further resource for her fellow IT professionals. The organization has chapters throughout Canada, including Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Ottawa, and is dedicated to helping women in technology advance in their careers.