News / Calgary

Calgary Heroes: Kylie Toh, YYC’s Chic Geek

Since 2013, Chic Geek has become an invaluable resource for Calgary’s women in tech

Kylie Toh sits among her wonderful team of Chic Geek volunteers at Start Up Calgary.

Aaron Chatha / Metro

Kylie Toh sits among her wonderful team of Chic Geek volunteers at Start Up Calgary.

Kylie Toh is a smart, talented and motivated woman in the technology industry - a description that’s not too common in a field often criticized for lacking diversity.

In 2013, Toh set out to change that (remember how we said she was motivated?).

She became the founder of a Calgary organization called Chic Geek, an entirely volunteer-run community that supports women exploring technology and entrepreneurship through tech talks, meet-ups and mentorship programs.

She saw a gap in the beginner-friendly tech market and sought to fill it.

“This is a place where women – and actually men too – who want to explore technology can come and learn,” she said. “There are no stupid questions. Everyone is welcome. It’s just a really friendly place to get started.”

The most recent Statistics Canada data – from 2011 – states women accounted for 39 per cent of graduates from university STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs, compared to 66 per cent from non-STEM programs.

Also, most women who do pursue a career in STEM fields usually go into biology or science, as opposed to engineering, computer science or mathematics.

“We need to see more women in tech because it’s part of building diversity in this sector,” Toh explained. “We know that diversity leads to more background questions and problems being solved – which leads to more innovation. Innovation is what drives our economy and our future, especially in our current economic state.”

Since Chic Geeks inception, it’s helped a wide-range of entrepreneurs in Calgary, from recent university graduates to an 11-year-old girl starting her own robot business at home.

Toh said it’s about inspiring women in tech – and being inspired by them as well.

Now that the organization has cemented itself as an invaluable resource to Calgarian entrepreneurs, they’re taking the next step – a flagship conference called Geeky Summit, which will take places on Nov 16.

A full-day event with international speakers, the theme will be celebrating imperfections.

“It’s been this pipedream of Chic Geek since we started and we’re finally at a place where we can launch it,” beamed Toh, incredibly proud of Chic Geek’s accomplishments.

“It’s like I’m walking on cloud nine. Also, I’m extremely humbled by the passionate volunteer team that helps me build Chic Geek by being driven and curious individuals.”

Aside from their annual Meet n’ Geek meet up, the group also hosts learning opportunities, like a beginner’s intro to iOS app development at the end of June.

For more information, visit www.thechicgeek.ca.