2018 Digital Diversity Award Winners Announced! – Digital Nova Scotia – Leading Digital Industry
2018 Digital Diversity Award Winners Announced!

Acknowledging & Celebrating: Female Leaders and Diversity Champions at Digital Nova Scotia’s 3rd Digital Diversity Awards

Recognizing women in a traditionally male-dominated sector, DNS has announced our 2018 Digital Diversity Award winners.

Over 110 people came to celebrate and applaud female leaders and diversity champions in ICT through the Digital Diversity Awards, held in partnership with the Centre for Women in Business Spring Finale, and sponsored by Maplewave. By highlighting diversity, we are encouraging and inspiring Nova Scotia’s next generation of women ICT leaders. During the evening’s event, Digital Diversity Awards were presented to winners in the following categories:

Power IT Up: Next Generation Leadership
Winner: Sarah Ryan – Program Director – Brilliant Labs

Women Leaders in the Digital Economy
Winner: Dr. Rita Orji – Assistant Professor, Computer Science at Dalhousie University

Diversity Champion of the Year
Winner: Harbr – An owner-oriented construction tech platform based in Halifax

“Since 1843 women have led major advances in programming and software development, yet today women still represent less than 25% of the industry.  Our awards were established to address the gender gap, and actively promote role models and champions of diversity in our ICT sector. We firmly believe that a more diverse sector, workforce and community will result in a more productive and prepared country overall” says Ulrike Bahr-Gedalia, former President and CEO, Digital Nova Scotia. “Our award recipients are change-makers and leaders in gender diversity, and they continue to showcase the magnitude of opportunities that exist within Nova Scotia’s fastest growing industry, and beyond. ICT is a global industry after all.”

Through Digital Nova Scotia’s partnership with the Women in Communications and Technology (WCT), all award recipients will also be automatically vetted and nominated for WCT’s own national annual awards program held in 2019.

“We are proud of the talent and tech companies that come out of Nova Scotia, and are thrilled to be able to offer a unique opportunity and platform to recognize the significant efforts and contributions of our Digital Diversity Award winners,” says Bahr-Gedalia. “Our 2018 award winners have proven themselves as leaders, vocal and proactive diversity champions, and an ongoing inspiration to many in the ICT industry.  They’re also role models for other sectors that have been facing similar challenges for many years.”

Congratulations to our winners!

Our Winners 

Power IT Up: Next Generation Leadership – Sarah Ryan

An advocate and role model for girls and young women, Sarah Ryan has been active in the science and technology education field for over nine years. A graduate of Mount Saint Vincent University, Sarah is the Program Director at Brilliant Labs, a not-for-profit organization established to grow creativity, innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit in youth. Sarah has participated in events, panel discussions and has been a guest speaker at conferences and initiatives across the province, discussing gender divide in science and technology, digital literacy, the opportunities of technology and entrepreneurship, and youth tech education.

“It’s truly an honour to be selected as the winner of the “2018 Power IT Up: Next Generation Leadership” award. Digital Nova Scotia has continued to be a passionate supporter of female leaders in ICT. Encouragement such as this enables female role models to not only overcome obstacles often found in male-dominated sectors, but motivates them to mentor and inspire each other along the way. This recognition celebrates positive change for the next generation of female leaders.” – Sarah Ryan, Program Director, Brilliant Labs.


Women Leaders in the Digital Economy – Dr. Rita Orji

Dr. Rita Orji is a Computer Science Professor at Dalhousie University. Her research focuses on investigating how interactive systems can be designed to help people move towards improved health and wellness. Rita has won many prestigious awards both nationally and internationally in recognition of her Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) leadership, both within and outside the academic environment. In 2017, she was named one of the top 150 Canadian Women in STEM by the hEr VOLUTION, was among the top 50 Young Most Influential Best Brains in Enugu State, Nigeria, and was invited to speak to the Canadian Parliament and at a United Nations Commission on the State of Women’s Panel. Above all, Dr. Orji is a Champion of diversity and inclusion in STEM through her numerous activities and using herself as a practical example. She founded the Education for Women and the Less Privileged foundation.

“Nothing is more fulfilling than being recognized for doing what I love! I feel honoured and hope to keep inspiring more young women to believe in themselves and pursue their passions. Nothing is impossible!” – Dr. Rita Orji, Assistant Professor, Computer Science at Dalhousie University.


Diversity Champion of the Year – Harbr

A construction technology startup company based in Halifax, Harbr manages construction-scheduling data to create insights, analytics and predictions that help projects stay on-time, on-budget and expose opportunities. Harbr was born when construction minds and technical intelligence collided through a renovation project, and now their team is focused on building easy to use products that create enormous value for the construction industry.  As a team, they have over 20 years experience working with and for general contractors, and collectively they want to help drive the construction industry towards more efficient and thoughtful construction. Working within two male-dominated industries, construction and technology, Harbr vocally committed to gender parity, and achieved their goal in 2017.

“We feel truly proud and honoured to receive this award from Digital Nova Scotia.  This is a great recognition of the progress that Harbr is making towards creating diversity and empowering women in male-dominated industries.  As a company, we see the value in diversity and believe we have been able to create better products because of it. It is very rewarding and humbling to know that we are making a small difference and if we, as a company, can influence even one individual or one company to follow suit, then our efforts have been successful”. – Ashley Kielbratowski, Co-Founder & Product Development, Harbr.


Sponsor – Maplewave

“The under-recognized power of diversity is the effect it can have on a company’s mindset. I firmly believe that the more varied and open your workplace is, the more successful your organization will be. Different perspectives can help you approach problems from a different angle, recognize opportunities that weren’t seen before, and ultimately make better decisions. At Maplewave, we reap the benefits of encouraging diversity every day.” – Leigh Anne Dingwall, VP Human Resources, Maplewave

Maplewave is the premier provider of software and retail optimization services for the telecommunications (telco) industry. Over the last three decades, they have evolved from a retailer-designed software provider, to one of the most comprehensive retail optimization companies in the industry.