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Women entrepreneurs in southern Alberta get free STEM resources

Click to play video: 'Southern Alberta women get free STEM-related business resources' Southern Alberta women get free STEM-related business resources
Female entrepreneurs in southern Alberta will be eligible to apply for free courses in STEM to help advance their businesses this year. As Emily Olsen reports, the courses range from app creation and augmented reality, to cybersecurity training – Feb 11, 2021

Co-founder of VR game studio Simulacrum Interactive and Lethbridge College instructor Allyson Cikor says she’s thrilled to have an opportunity to offer her hard-learned lessons in tech to other women starting out in STEM-related fields.

STEM sectors are science, technology, engineering, and math.

Read more: Women in STEM: the ongoing struggle against inequality

“I’m seeing a lot of women, especially during the pandemic when we’re spending more time at home, pick up pet projects or take coding courses online or join these communities and just get involved in the discussion,” she added.

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These entrepreneurial women in southern Alberta are getting a boost thanks to Economic Development Lethbridge and Tecconnect, which are offering Women Entrepreneurs in STEM or “WESTEM” courses led by women in STEM to teach complementary technologies that are crucial to business.

“[It’s] everything from artificial intelligence to machine learning, block chain, VR, augmented reality,” VP of Entrepreneurship and Innovation for Economic Development Lethbridge Renae Barlow said.

“Those are all potentials for what we can bring to training for women who are identifying that as something that they’d like to do or just want to learn more about.”

The program is completely free to any women looking to start a business or up their game and will be offered through March 2022 thanks to funding from Western Economic Diversification Canada.

Read more: Lethbridge educators say more girls are going into science-based programs

“If you’re in Calgary or Edmonton, you have ready access to almost anything,” Barlow said.

“So the geographic disadvantage that we had was one that we felt was really hurting women’s opportunity to engage in these fields, which is why we brought this programming down.”

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Click to play video: 'International Day of Women and Girls in Science' International Day of Women and Girls in Science
International Day of Women and Girls in Science – Feb 11, 2021

Lori Olson says her first attempt at building an app took three years, despite her extensive software development experience, and she can’t wait to help other women avoid common pitfalls.

This community of women is not ending its networking efforts there.

Read more: International Day of Women and Girls in Science

“I’m going to be setting up monthly coaching calls [in the future] if they have any problems and they need help,” Olson said.
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Women in southern Alberta who are interested in participating can fill out the online survey and find applicable courses online at any time.

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