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Diversity in the tech sector has been in the news a lot lately.

Google revealed in 2014 that only 17% of its tech workers are female.

Ellen Pao, interim CEO of Reddit, sued her former employer for gender discrimination.

Two UBC women science professors resigned from a prize committee over a lack of women nominations.

But there’s also been a lot of good news. Many institutions and companies, including Lighthouse Labs, have decided to do something about the low numbers of women and minorities in Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) and they are making progress.

This is great for everyone. Studies have shown that when you improve the situation for women and minorities, everyone benefits.

By increasing the participation of women, we not only increase the talent pool in these fields, but also the potential for innovation and increased profit.

Creating Connections 4.0, which is coming to Simon Fraser University on May 22-23, is one great example of something that is being done to improve diversity in STEM. It is a networking and professional development event where STEM professionals and students from across BC will gather to further the dialogue about diversity in STEM. Both men and women are invited to participate. The mission of this conference is to create a world where everyone can explore and participate in the opportunities provided by engineering, science and technology to improve our world.

The main conference on Saturday May 23rd includes career development workshops, exciting panel discussions and inspiring keynote talks. The leadership essentials workshops and career development panels on entrepreneurship, non-traditional careers and strategic career planning are equally applicable to men and women. Panelists and speakers include the first woman Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Honourable Kim Campbell, Dr Diane Finegood, CEO of the Michael Smith Foundation, and 5-time Olympic medalist Hayley Wickenheiser.

This year’s conference also includes a new half-day program on Friday May 22nd aimed at leaders/managers as well as self-identified future leaders in technology, engineering and science. The goal is to help them create and maintain a gender diverse workforce for their company.

The highlight of Creating Connections 4.0 is sure to be the Evening Keynote Panel on Friday May 22: "Diversity in Leadership: A Real Value Driver or Just an Image Thing?" Industry, political and academic leaders will be asked tough questions about the lack of diversity in STEM leadership positions.

Lighthouse Labs is excited to be the social media sponsor for this event. Stay tuned to the Twitter account @lighthouse_labs, and the hashtag #CC4STEM for live tweets from Lighthouse Labs alumni.

We’re also proud to announce that Lighthouse Labs' co-founder Jeremy Shaki will be speaking as part of a panel on Saturday: “Not Just Our Problem: Motivating People to Care About Women in STEM”.

Thank you Jeremy for being a leader in making the tech sector more accessible and welcoming for everyone!

Click here to register for Creating Connections 4.0!