For International Women’s Day, BetaKit has highlighted some of the many women in Canada’s tech community building strong companies, creating strong networks, and taking no bullshit. Amplify their voices.
This list began in 2017 with 30 names and has grown each year. This year, our focus was to expand beyond Toronto, and amplify voices from across Canada. In the interest of inclusivity, we have also decided to include people with other underrepresented genders, such as non-binary people, on this list.
The collective response to this project and our request for suggestions has been overwhelming. We were not prepared for the outpouring of enthusiasm!
It must be stated that this is not a definitive list! On this matter, BetaKit is not and cannot be the final word. In addition to the people found below, we’d like to highlight resources created by the DMZ, Women and Color, FinTech Growth Syndicate, Ria Lupton and RC Woodmass (who can be found on this list!), as well as this list by Twitter of influential female voices.
We also encourage you to continue to share in the comments below and on social media the women in the Canadian tech community that you’re celebrating today.
One final thought:
Also, in the spirit of inclusion and the many facets of an evolving and diverse movement, where we embrace the need to advance better representation, let’s also celebrate people who do not identify with a specific gender, too.
— Tanya Coyle (@heycoyle) March 6, 2019
Janelle Hinds, founder of Helping Hands App
@MobileAppQueen – Toronto
Why you should follow: Hinds works with Equal Voice to help elect more women to political office, and is a #DaughtersoftheVote delegate, making recommendations on how the gov’t can encourage women into STEM.
Jeanette Stock, founder of VentureOut
@JeanetteStock – Toronto
Why you should follow: Stock is creating an inclusive space for LGBTQA+ people in the tech world. Currently the New Venture Director at Highline BETA, and a member on its Female Funders leadership team.
Shyra Barberstock, Okwaho Equal Source founder
@ShyBarberstock – Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory
Why you should follow: Okwaho Equal Source is working towards the inclusion of diverse entrepreneurs, while advocating for Indigenous businesses in Canada and around the world. Follow for highlights on Indigenous businesses and diversity.
Karen Schulman Dupuis, Social Design founder
@karensd – Hamilton
Why you should follow: Self-described “shift disturber” Schulman Dupuis is a frequent public speaker on diversity, social justice, and entrepreneurship. She also sells amazing t-shirts.
Huda Idrees, founder at Dot Health
@hidrees – Toronto
Why you should follow: Idrees is the founder of Dot Health, which gives Canadians access to their personal health records. Idrees is a well-known advocate about issues related to women and people of colour in tech.
Melissa Sariffodeen, CEO of Canada Learning Code
@melsariffodeen – Toronto
Why you should follow: Sariffodeen has grown Ladies Learning Code’s mission of more women in STEM into Canada Learning Code, a national initiative providing women, Indigenous peoples, immigrants, and people with disabilities digital skills for the workplace.
Melissa Nightingale, founder at Raw Signal Group
@shappy – Toronto
Why you should follow: An advisor for The Dresscode Project, which provides safe spaces for the LGBTQA+ community to get their hair cut and styled. Formerly Wattpad’s Head of Creators, Nightingale is now a best-selling author and can unfuck your management via Raw Signal Group.
Nadia Hamilton, founder of Magnusmode
@Magnusmode – Waterloo
Why you should follow: While Hamilton doesn’t have Twitter, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t follow what Magnusmode is doing. Magnusmode develops apps that help adults living with autism become independent in their daily life by guiding them through tasks like shopping and cleaning.
Heather Anne Ritchie, co-founder of Repable
@HeatherAnne – Ancaster
Why you should follow: Named one of CIX’s top 20 startups in 2016, Repable provides analytics for entertainers in the video game industry. Ritchie has gone from a recovering publicist to a startup mentor in her own right.
Ashley Jane Lewis, programmer/diversity advocate
@AshleyJaneLewis – Toronto/New York
Why you should follow: Lewis spent a year leading development of Girls Learning Code, and has made diversity in tech education a key part of talks at forums like TEDx, FITC, and International Women’s Day. To date, she has helped 3,000 youth learn to code.
Saadia Muzaffar, founder at TechGirls Canada
@ThisTechGirl – Toronto
Why you should follow: TechGirls Canada supports women of colour, LGBTQA+, and Aboriginal women, and advocates for resources and public and private-sector partnerships on their behalf. Follow her if you love no-bullshit conversations around supporting marginalized people in tech.
Maayan Ziv, founder of AccessNow
@MaayanZiv – Toronto
Why you should follow: AccessNow’s app allows users to pinpoint areas in their city that are accessible to people with disabilities, and Ziv, a recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal and Startup Canada Awards, is an outspoken advocate for creating a more accessible world.
Kylie Toh, founder of ChicGeek
@kywoods_ – Calgary
Why you should follow: Calgary-based Chic Geek is a non-profit that works to build a community for female entrepreneurs. In 2016, Toh represented Alberta in the prestigious International Visitors Leadership Program and was a voice for women in STEM on an international stage.
Shahrzad Rafati, founder and CEO of BroadbandTV
@shahrzadrafati – Vancouver
Why you should follow: Behind the largest multi-platform network in the world and recognized as one of the 100 most creative people in business. In 2018, Rafati was appointed to be Canada’s representative on the Business Women Leaders task force by Prime Minister Trudeau.
Chakameh Shafii, Head of Product at MEDIGO
@ChakamehShafii – Toronto/Berlin
Why you should follow: Founder of TranQool, a platform that helps people access mental health services, which was acquired by HumanaCare. Shafii then bounced to Berlin to help people access healthcare while they travel at MEDIGO.
Arlene Dickinson, District Ventures Capital
@ArleneDickinson – Calgary
Why you should follow: One of Canada’s most well-known entrepreneurs, the Venture Communications CEO has her own VC fund and is back on Dragons’ Den. Follow for earnest tweets and #dragontips.
Alyssa Atkins, VP Marketing at CareGuide
@alyssaatkins – Toronto
Why you should follow: A Next 36 alumni and VP of marketing at CareGuide, Atkins was key to launching HeartPayroll, the company’s payroll offering.
Sarah Stockdale, founder and CEO of Valkerie
@SkStock – Toronto
Why you should follow: Following Tilt’s acquisition by Airbnb, Stockdale launched growth marketing conlutancy Valkerie. Creator of wntta newsletter. Follow for more feminism in your timeline.
Aisha Addo, founder of Power To Girls Foundation
@AishaAfua – Toronto
Why you should follow: Power To Girls is a nonprofit that empowers Afro-diaspora girls in the GTA and across the world. Addo also developed the ridesharing Drive Her app, which connects women with female drivers.
Elena Yunusov, CryptoCamp founder
@communicable – Toronto
Why you should follow: With bylines at Yonge Street Media, StartUp Here, and BetaKit, Yunusov is in the know when it comes to Toronto’s startup scene. Runs a startup marketing agency, a blockchain unconference, and Shyft Network’s marketing.
Ria Lupton, founder of WomenWhoCodeTO, Head of Marketing at GrowthGenius
@RoastedKeyboard – Toronto
Why you should follow: A founder of WomenWhoCodeTO and Community Builders, Ria is an advocate for inclusivity in tech.
April Dunford, Ambient Strategy founder
@aprildunford – Toronto
Why you should follow: If you’ve ever seen Dunford speak at public events, she’s both hilarious, yet on-point when it comes to giving entrepreneurs advice on growing startups thanks to years of experience as a founder.
Emma Williams, Breathe Life Director of Marketing
@emwilli – Vancouver
Why you should follow: The former lead for one of Montreal’s most popular startup hubs, Williams has packed her bags for the Best Coast, but still plays a key role the city’s startup ecosystem.
Avery Francis, goodrecruiter founder
@AveryFrancis – Toronto
Why you should follow: The former head of HR at Rangle, Francis splits time between Bright+Early and her new recruiting company. Outspoken about encouraging inclusion in all tech companies, follow for conversations on combating bias in the workplace.
Eva Wong, COO of Borrowell
@eva_toronto – Toronto
Why you should follow: She doesn’t come from a financial background, but Wong leads one of Toronto’s fastest-growing FinTech startups. Recently named one of the top 35 women in FinTech, and a frequent public speaker thanks to Borrowell’s policy of not participating in all-male panels.
Heather Payne, CEO of HackerYou
@heatherpayne – Toronto
Why you should follow: Also a co-founder of Ladies Learning Code, Payne’s reputation for fostering women in tech has followed her to her coding school, which enrolls 70 percent female students with 61 percent female staff.
Eva Lau, co-founder of Two Small Fish Ventures
@MrsEvaLau – Toronto
Why you should follow: Lau worked on Wattpad with husband Allen Lau before leaving the company in September 2013, and now supports early-stage internet companies in the Toronto and Waterloo region through Two Small Fish.
Malgosia Green, CEO of PlentyOfFish
@HeyGosia – Vancouver
Why you should follow: The former CPO at Top Hat, one of Toronto’s fastest growing startups. Green departed in 2018 to become CEO of Vancouver’s world-renowned online dating site.
Vicki Saunders, founder of SheEO
@vickis – Toronto
Why you should follow: Saunders’ SheEO works to get more funding for women-led companies, by asking 1,000 women to commit $1,000, which is pooled into a fund dedicated to investing in female entrepreneurs.
Nadya Khoja, Chief Growth Officer at Venngage
@NadyaKhoja – Toronto
Why you should follow: Khoja started part-time at Venngage with a theatre and digital media background, and climbed up the ranks to Chief Growth Officer. Also the creator of web series Drunk Entrepreneurs.
Carol Leaman, CEO of Axonify
@CarolLeaman – Kitchener/Waterloo
Why you should follow: Leaman is the CEO of one of Waterloo’s rapidly growing companies, which was recently named one of the best workplaces for women. Leaman is also outspoken on diversity, having written op-eds for BetaKit.
Sarah Marion, Associate at iNovia
@SarahMarion – Toronto
Why you should follow: A BetaKit contributor, Marion spends her time supporting inovia’s portfolio, and spearhed the firm’s Empower Initiative. Founding donor of the Sarah F. Marion Foundation, she’s raised over $1.14 million for organizations focused on equality for marginalized populations.
Haidee Thanda, founder of Hacking Health Ottawa
@me_andmind – Ottawa
Why you should follow: Thanda is passionate about health promotion. Through Hacking Health, Thanda connects people to solve health problems through tech. She’s currently a senior learning platform architect at Shopify.
Jennifer Moss, co-founder of Plasticity Labs
@JenLeighMoss – Kitchener/Waterloo
Why you should follow: Helping workplaces foster happier and healthier employees at Plasticity, Moss was recognized as international female entrepreneur of the year at the Stevie Awards in 2014. In 2016, she was recognized as the Canadian Business Innovator of the Year.
Lauren Robinson, Partner at Highline BETA
@LR_Ventures – Vancouver
Why you should follow: Robinson is a general partner Highline BETA, while also acting as executive director of Female Funders, an investor accelerator focused on empowering the next generation of women angels.
Béatrice Couture, President at CyberEco
Follow on LinkedIn – Montreal
Why you should follow: CyberEco aims to turn the talent and resources in Québec into a expertise collective in cybersecurity. A corporate lawyer by trade, Couture was previously at InnoCité, a startup accelerator bringing businesses and cities together to solve urban issues.
Annalea Krebs, CEO of Social Nature
@AnnaleaKrebs – Vancouver
Why you should follow: After the acquisition of her previous business, EthicalDeal, Krebs has continued her mission of helping consumers find deals on natural products with Social Nature. Her platform has a community of 350,000 influencers and raised $1 million in funding.
Kathryn Loewen, founder of Control
@kathryn_loewen – Vancouver
Why you should follow: Loewen has been working in the payments space for more than 15 years on solutions for Apple, Toyota, and Oakley. She was most recently at the helm of Control, which helped businesses monitor their Payments from services like Stripe and PayPal.
Natalie Cartwright, co-founder of Finn.ai
@NatCartwright – Vancouver
Why you should follow: Through Finn.ai, Cartwright is part of a growing FinTech movement of embracing AI to create intuitive financial solutions. Cartwright has been recognized among the top 40 under 40 by Business in Vancouver, and was a 2017 Women of Distinction Nominee by YWCA.
Anna Foat, Director GDTO at Sun Life Financial
@annafoat – London
Why you should follow: Through her work, Foat encourages entrepreneurship in future generations. A former EIR at Communitech, director of executive education at Future Design School, and current Design Thinking instructor at Western University.
Solmaz Shahalizadeh, Shopify VP Data Science
@solmaz_sh — Ottawa
Why you should follow: As the VP of Data Science and Engineering, Solmaz oversees the teams at Shopify dedicated to building critical data foundations. Described as “so badass” by her colleagues, Shahalizadeh is a strong supporter who encourages young women to leap into STEM fields.
Jodi Kovitz, founder and CEO of #MovetheDial
@jodilynnkovitz — Toronto
Why you should follow: Kovitz launched #MovetheDial in January 2017, an organization with the goal of increasing participation and leadership of women in technology. She is also on SickKids Hospital’s cabinet and is the co-chair of Tech4SickKids.
Bianca Wylie, founder Open Data Institute Toronto
@biancawylie — Toronto
Why you should follow: Wylie has been a vocal critic against Sidewalk Labs, ensuring corporate tech does not supercede social good. She is also a co-founder of Tech Reset, an group looking at public policy and tech and advocating for innovation for public good.
Jessica Yip, COO at A&K Robotics
Follow on LinkedIn — Vancouver
Why you should follow: Co-founder and COO of a self-driving technology company and a community volunteer. Named a 2018 Most Influential Women by BC Business for her contributions to STEM in the province.
Nagar Rahmani, Kensington Capital Partners
@NagarRahmani — Toronto
Why you should follow: A principal at Kensington, Nagar previously served as the executive director of technology investment conference Canadian Innovation Exchange, helping connect entrepreneurs to capital.
Meron Berhe, co-founder Bantu App
@meronabella — Ottawa
Why you should follow: Co-founder of Bantu App, a platform “dedicated to connecting black women with a large pool of hair stylists.” Berhe is also the regional coordinator at Better Outcomes Registry & Network (BORN), Ontario’s pregnancy, birth/childhood registry and network.
Michelle Scarborough, managing director BDC WIT
@michelle_scarb — Toronto
Why you should follow: Responsible for BDC’s investment fund for women-led companies. Notable roles: senior VP Kensington Capital Partners, launched Ontario Emerging Technology Fund, founder of Women’s Angel Network in Canada.
Jessica Galang, staff writer at The Logic
@jessicagalangg — Toronto
Why you should follow: The original author of this list. A rising Canadian tech journalist, Galang has always dedicated time and column inches to telling the stories of underrepresented peoples.
Layial El-Hadi, Associate Professor at Concordia
Follow on LinkedIn — Montreal
Why you should follow:El-Hadi is program director for the Graduate Certificate in Innovation, Technology and Society. She’s also the Head of Responsible Finance & Curriculum at FormFintech, which works to build FinTech leaders within the city.
Jill Earthy, head of Female Funders
@jearthy — Vancouver
Why you should follow: A self-described “champion of gender equity with a focus on increasing the number of women in investment sector.” Former CEO of Forum for Women Entrepreneurs BC.
Nora Jenkins Townson, founder at Bright + Early
@NoraJKS — Toronto
Why you should follow: Bright + Early, an HR consultancy helping companies looking to scale. The company notes diversity and inclusion as a key focus, helping companies with “custom diversity and inclusivity workshops.” Formerly director of People Operations for Wealthsimple.
Elaine Kunda, founder Disruption Ventures
@Elaine_Kunda — Toronto
Why you should follow: Disruption Ventures launched in early 2018, with the goal of investing in women-founded companies. Kunda is also an advisor to G(irls)20 an organization looking to put women and girls at the centre of G20 economic decision making.
Chioma Ifeanyi-Okoro, My African Corner founder
@Chiomaio — Toronto
Why you should follow: An active part of the Toronto tech scene, Chioma founded My African Corner, a platform dedicated to accelerating black founders. She is also a founding executive of the Black Professional In Technology Network.
Siri Agrell, managing director OneEleven Toronto
Why you should follow: Formerly the director of strategic initiatives for Mayor John Tory and deputy director of communications for former premier Kathleen Wynne. Joined as managing director of OneEleven in September 2018. Follow for no bullshit tweets.
Vivian Chan, Vancouver ecosystem booster
@vchan — Vancouver
Why you should follow: Chan serves a number of roles in the Vancouver tech startup scene. Events coordinator Yell Canada, events and communications for BC-based Digital Technology Supercluster, manager of partnerships for New Venture BC, co-chair of Vancouver Startup Week.
Jamie Petten, president Kanata North BA
@nutpetten — Ottawa
Why you should follow: Co-founder SAAS North, L-SPARK accelerator. Committees: Invest Ottawa, MindBridge AI, Startup Open House. Mentor for Technovation Challenge.
Jennifer Francis, mentor, advisor, angel investor
@JenFrancis261 — Ottawa
Why you should follow: Sits on a number of boards: Invest Ottawa, Capital Angel Network, Technovation Challenge, Women Powering Technology. A mentor at L-SPARK, board member at Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health, a charity working with Ottawa’s Aboriginal population.
Nicole Verkindt, founder, CEO OMX
@nicoleverkindt — Toronto
Why you should follow: In 2011, Verkindt founded OMX, a procurement platform driving diversity in supply chains and measuring economic impacts. A ‘Dragon’ on CBC’s Next Gen Den, and was named Canada’s Woman Entrepreneur of the Year by Startup Canada in 2017.
Melissa Kargiannakis, founder, CEO skritswap
@melkargi — Sault Ste. Marie
Why you should follow: Kargiannakis states her “adult life mission” as working towards “eradicating inequity in society.” Also the founder, executive director ZeroZero Foundation, which uses Social Impact Bonds to help students with “exorbitant student debt and stagnant salaries.”
Alejandra Porta, co-founder Shine Bootcamp
@alejandraporta — Vancouver
Why you should follow: A senior interactive designer at legal tech software company Clio, Porta is also the co-founder of Shine Bootcamp, a workshop for women in technology, marketing and startup environments that want to “kickstart speaking careers.”
Lisa Cashmore, head accelerator programs Communitech
@LisaCashmore — Fergus, Ontario
Why you should follow: When not supporting Communitech startups, Cashmore is a director at Canadian Digital Media Network.
Jacqueline Cook, chief strategy officer at Vendasta
@jackiecook21 — Saskatoon
Why you should follow: Cook is also an active member of the Saskatchewan tech community. She serves on the boards of Saskatchewan’s first tech incubator Co.Lab, and inner-city schools program Care and Share. Previously co-founded Triumph Mobile Rewards.
Katherine Regnier, CEO, founder Coconut Software
@katRegnier — Saskatoon
Why you should follow: Not only is she the founder and CEO, Regnier is also a founding board member of Co.Lab. She was also named by Startup Canada as the 2018 Canadian Woman Entrepreneur of the Year for the Prairies.
RC Woodmass, founder of Queerit
@rwoodmass — Montreal
Why you should follow: Identifying as non-binary, Woodmass is the founder of a feminist and anti-capitalist web design by and for queers. They also work as product designer for Crescendo, building an AI-based application to help increase inclusion and belonging in workplaces.
Emily Key, strategy and operations lead at Shopify
@theemilykey — Vancouver
Why you should follow: Prior to Shopify, Key served as the VP of operations for Vancouver-based SaaS company Bench Accounting. Also co-founded Reverb Software, which provided web-based applications for healthcare, ecommerce and financial industries, and was acquired in 2014.
Tamar Huggins, Tech Spark Canada founder
@tamarhuggins — Brampton
Why you should follow: An award-winning entrepreneur and tech educator who founded Tech Spark, an organization committed too empowering girls and children of colour through innovative education. Tamar’s work has impacted over 1,200 students in the Durham region.
Humaira Ahmed, founder and CEO of Locelle app
@humairaaa — Victoria
Why you should follow: Ahmed’s Locelle is a networking app for women, providing a space to connect and meet up with like-minded women locally. Her app, which launched in October 2018, is available for Victoria and Vancouver for women in STEM fields, as well as women entrepreneurs.
April Alayon, organizer of TechInColour
@aprilapple — Vancouver
Why you should follow: Front end developer at New Mode, a values-based advocacy and civic engagement platform. Also an organizer of TechInColour. She has previously helped organize Sister Spit, an annual queer literary and spoken word tour.
Cassie L. Rhéaume, GM Lighthouse Labs
@cassierheaume — Montreal
Why you should follow: Along with leading Lighthouse Labs Montreal, Rhéaume is also the lead of the Montreal chapter of Canada Learning Code, which provides education around coding to women, kids, teens, and teachers.
Chloé Freslon, founder of URelles
@f_chloe — Montreal
Why you should follow: A tech journalist and active member of the Montreal tech scene. Founded URelles, the first French-language podcast on women in tech, also a columnist for Moteur de recherche. Part of the Women in Tech Manifesto/le Manifeste des femmes en technologie.
Rachel Jean-Pierre, digital marketing BDO Canada
Follow on LinkedIn — Montreal
Why you should follow: Started the Montreal chapter of Lesbians Who Tech and was one of the founders of the Women in Tech Manifesto. She is an active member of the tech community focused on creating diversity and inclusion in the space.
Brie Code, CEO and creative director of Tru Luv
@briecode — Toronto
Why you should follow: Code works at Tru Luv, a studio that creates artificial intelligence companions focused on self care and helping deal with stress. She was previously a lead programmer at Ubisoft, working on AAA games.
Jacqueline Leung, Founder at Pressed
@jacquelinegyl — Toronto
Why you should follow: Founded Pressed in 2016, a digital media startup that makes news easy to understand. Made it her mission to help people understand different perspectives, join in on conversations, and make important decisions. Named Notable Life woman of the year in 2016.
Adeola Olubamiji, founder of STEMHub
@adexmee — Indianapolis, Indiana
Why you should follow: Olubamiji is a Canadian living in the US. She is the founder of STEMHub, a not-for-profit promoting STEM programs for youth and women from underprivileged communities in Canada and Nigeria.
Erin Blaskie, director of marketing for L-SPARK
@ErinBlaskie — Ottawa
Why you should follow: An active part of the Ottawa tech scene, Blaskie has worked as community manager and now director of marketing for SaaS tech accelerator L-SPARK. She is also a TEDx speaker and Google Certified Speaker.
Cynthia van Sundert, ED at The A100
@cvansundert — Calgary
Why you should follow: van Sundert works with a non-profit working to help grow the upcoming generation of tech entrepreneurs in Alberta. She is also a committee member for SAAS North conference and on the advisory board for the Calgary chapter of #MovetheDial.
Tammy Meyers, co-founder WIT Founders Canada
@TammyMeyersBC — Vancouver
Why you should follow: Co-founded Women in Tech Founders along with Kari LaMotte after noticing she was often the only women in the room at tech conferences.
Rita Orji, Comp Sci prof Dalhousie University
@ritapurity — Halifax
Why you should follow: An assistant professor in computer science, Orji was named to the top 150 Canadian Women in STEM by hEr Volution. She is also an ambassador for SIGCHI, an international society of academics interested in human-computer interaction.
Jennifer Couldrey, The Upside Foundation Canada
@jencouldrey — Toronto
Why you should follow: Couldrey helps Canadian companies “give back” through Upside’s equity for charity program. Also an expert advisor for The Big Push, an equity-for-service, all-female-led accelerator.
Eléonore Jarry-Ferron, investments, Brightspark
Follow on LinkedIn — Montreal
Why you should follow: Co-founded student-run Front Row Ventures. Volunteers at Founder Institute, and Technovation. Said one WIT on this list, “when Eleonore invites you, you go.”
This article was originally published on March 8, 2017, and has since been updated.