Showcasing women in technology

Showcasing women in technology
Photo by Peter Kratochil via publicdomainpictures.net.
written by Daniel Boltinsky
September 30, 2011 1:00 pm

First Halifax DemoCamp held at Dal


Photo by Peter Kratochil via publicdomainpictures.net.

Photo by Peter Kratochil via publicdomainpictures.net.

Two years ago, Milan Vrekic and Tony Abou-Assaleh – founders of the company TitanFile – began discussing the idea of organizing a colloquium for budding entrepreneurs in the technology industry. On Sept. 23, the first Halifax DemoCamp was realized.

DemoCamp brings students, investors, entrepreneurs and anyone enthusiastic about the technology industry together. Organized in more than ten cities around the world, including Toronto, Boston, and Dubai, the events attract international speakers and exhibit local businesses.

Despite having the same name, events in separate locations are organized completely independently by whoever decides to host the conference. Halifax’s first was held in Dalhousie’s Faculty of Computer Science building, hosted by TitanFile. The event included seven speakers, ten demos and over 100 attendees.

The theme of DemoCamp Halifax came to Vrekic as he was examining applications for a job opening at his company. The fact that not one woman applied for the position of software engineer, he says, gave him the idea of naming the theme of the event “Women in Technology”.

Abou-Assaleh says witnessing the presentations of Julia Rivard, a former Olympian who is now president and CEO of a software and development company, and Monica Goyal, founder of Mylegalbriefcase.com, at another DemoCamp played an important role in deciding the theme.

“There are all these women doing great stuff,” he says. “We wanted to bring all of Halifax’s local talent into one room, and also show them that women are succeeding in technology.”

Rivard and Goyal were among the speakers, along with other experts, such as Tim Burke, director of development for Tether, and Brent Newsome, founder of software development firm NewPace.

In addition, 10 individuals presented their developing businesses, which included social networking sites, marketing software and a line of interactive comic books for tablet computers.

Ozge Yeloglu, the chair of Dal’s Women in Technology Society, gave the final presentation. She believes that a significant reason for the slanted gender ratio in the field is an underlying stereotype about people in the industry: the idea of the overweight computer geek living in his mother’s basement.

DemoCamp, though, displayed a radically different image. Attendees covered the age spectrum, came from various backgrounds, and had diverse motivations for being there.

Sreejata Chatterjee, for example, attended because she saw the event as a great opportunity to market her company – something she finds challenging as a full-time student. Others, such as five-year employee of Ally Financial Andrew Smith, wanted to “see the state of the industry.”

While Nova Scotia’s technology industry continues to grow, Abou-Assaleh says that the province’s market is still slack compared to others. He hopes that more tech business startups, together with similar conferences, will make Halifax more active in the area.



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