Many companies talk about DEI and the important role of women in STEM roles within their organizations. At Calian, this is much more than a talking point. We are proud to boast 45 per cent female representation across our global workforce. With four business segments, each providing products and services that rely on science, technology, engineering or mathematics, Calian offers lots of opportunity and a supportive environment for women in STEM.
In our Advanced Technologies division, for example, Helen Percival is the engineering technical lead. In that role she leads teams working with clients to design custom software solutions.
Percival joined Calian as a systems designer in 2017, working on software and algorithm design, documentation, quality assurance and acceptance testing. In 2020 Percival became the engineering technical lead, taking on the type of leadership role in which many women experience challenges.
Percival has adapted to the challenges many women face in STEM roles. “It's learning how to be heard in a room,” she says. “So, whether there’s some implicit bias and somebody doesn't listen or trust what I say and then somebody [male] in an equivalent role, with the same amount of experience, says the same thing all of a sudden that’s true—it's figuring out ways to communicate and be heard in my role.”
Percival’s experience at Calian has been positive. “I feel there’s no judgment because of my gender. I fit right in. We [women] are still definitely a minority, but the number of women that I work with directly has been growing over the last few years. It's been a really comfortable place to be heard and I’ve been given plenty of opportunities—the same opportunities as all my other peers.”
Lisa Aimable is the manager of business applications at Calian, helping the company to enable technology across the enterprise. Beginning her career in accounting, Aimable began to develop an interest in the technical side of that role, leading her to pursue a role as a business analyst, then a solutions architect and chief architect for financial systems, before joining Calian in 2019.
When Aimable began her IT career in 2006, there were few women in IT. “Fortunately I went into organizations where there were a lot of women in leadership roles, and so there was a lot of encouragement as a woman to move forward,” she says. “I have been very fortunate to have been mentored by some strong women in IT, and so I had really good role models and good people to draw on.”
At Calian, Aimable feels supported and valued. “I report to a woman and so there's never been a question about my gender or being a woman in STEM,” she says.
Jordyn Rohel is a systems designer at Calian, Advanced Technologies, where she designs, tests and integrates radio frequency systems with satellite ground stations. It’s a career that suits her well, having developed a fascination with space during her high school years.
One of only three women pursuing physics in her engineering program at University of Saskatchewan, she feels the industry is still a “boys club”, with some of the associated mentality remaining. However, she sees positive changes in the engineering culture towards inclusivity and equality among genders.
“My experience at Calian has been overall positive regarding equality among genders,” she says. “I have not been treated differently, or given different work, as a result of being a woman. I am proud to say that Calian and our customers are very inclusive in this way.”
Radhika Narayana is director, cloud and managed service operations in the ITCS US division at Calian. Growing up in India, where IT is a popular career choice for males, Narayana wasn’t sure whether she was going to like it. The dominance of men in IT roles makes it tough for women. “You have to really prove that you can do this job,” she says.
To do that, Narayana pursued a higher Cisco certification. “After that, my whole career path changed.” Because the Cisco certification is very difficult to achieve, Narayana felt it gave her the extra credibility she needed to make up for the disadvantages those of her gender experienced in STEM roles.
“At Calian I have not really seen that differentiation,” she says. “I'm given the liberty to do what is the right thing for the team and the company. So far, I have not really seen a difference [in gender treatment]. A man is given the same chair at the table, which is a great thing.”
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