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International Women's Day

Breaking Barriers: A Female Tech CEO’s Insights on Entrepreneurship, and the Future of Women in STEM

Sponsored by:
Sponsored by:

Laurie Clark

Founder of Onyen Corporation, Canchek Corporation, and Smarten Up Institute

Mediaplanet sat down with Laurie Clark, entrepreneur and founder of Onyen Corporation, Canchek Corporation, and Smarten Up Institute, to share her story and educate Canadian’s how they can better support women in STEM.

What has your journey looked like as a female entrepreneur in the tech industry?

My journey as a female entrepreneur in the tech industry has been both arduous and immensely fulfilling. It began with a fiery passion to pioneer innovative solutions, driving me to establish two more groundbreaking ventures — Canchek, a firm dedicated to combatting money laundering and terrorist financing, and Onyen, a trailblazer in providing accessible global environmental, social, and governance (ESG) reporting. Despite the daunting odds stacked against us as smaller players in a field dominated by giants, our triumphs speak volumes. In fact, Onyen clinched two prestigious Canadian Regulatory Technology Association awards in conjunction with Ernst & Young —Best ESG Reporting Solution and Best RegTech Start-up. And let’s not forget the honor of being named Entrepreneur of the Year in 2023 by the Royal Bank of Canada as well as Onyen as the “company to watch”, a testament to our relentless pursuit of excellence.

What advice would you give to other aspiring women in STEM?

To my fellow aspiring female entrepreneurs in STEM, I offer this counsel: Seek out supportive communities and mentors and immerse yourself in the stories of trailblazing women who have paved the way before us. Delve into the rich legacy of Canadian women in STEM, from luminaries like Mabel Bell and Elsie MacGill to modern-day icons like Donna Strickland and Vicky Kaspi. Their journeys inspire and illuminate the path forward, reminding us that greatness knows no gender. A great starting point would be to research these important women below:

Harriet Brooks– she was the first Canadian female nuclear physicist. She made important contributions to the field of atomic physics and was the first woman to receive a master’s degree from McGill.

Donna Strickland– a pioneering physicist, known for her work on ultrafast lasers. She has authored more than 90 publications and in 2018 was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for her work.

Ursula Franklin – who was a physicist, educator, feminist and social activist. She pioneered the development of archaeometry, which applies modern techniques of materials analysis to archaeology.

Roberta Bondar – astronaut, neurologist, physician, space medicine research pioneer, and first Canadian woman (and second Canadian) in space. Roberta reminds us: “Canada needs individuals to whom educators can point, and of whom we can be proud, whether athletes or astronauts or anything else. I think the role each Canadian plays is not so much ‘Look at me,’ but rather, ‘Look at our country.’”

Women in STEM make up only 24% of the workforce. Why do you think women are so rarely seen in the tech space?

The glaring underrepresentation of women in the tech realm stems from a myriad of complex factors, but I’ll pinpoint one area ripe for transformation—STEM education. We possess the tools and the talent to effect change, but our true potential lies in harnessing the collective brilliance of Canadian women across all levels of society. By fostering inclusivity and championing STEM education for women of every background, we can propel Canada to unparalleled heights of innovation and excellence.

How do you and your businesses support women and girls in STEM?

My commitment to empowering women in STEM extends far beyond mere rhetoric. Through initiatives like the Smart Mentor Program and originally with the SUI Top Under 40 Award (now the IIAC Top Under 40 Award), I actively cultivate a culture of mentorship and recognition, ensuring that talent knows no gender or race boundaries. Moreover, by sponsoring initiatives like the Northern Secondary School robotics team, I seek to nurture the next generation of female STEM leaders, instilling in them the confidence and skills needed to thrive in a male-dominated industry. And on a global scale, my dedication to gender diversity remains unwavering, as evidenced by my employment and mentorship of women across continents, from North America to Africa to Europe.

What do you see as the future of women in the tech industry?

The future of women in the tech industry is undeniably bright, marked by the meteoric rise of young trailblazers like Zainab Azim (a future astronaut) and Greta Thunberg (climate activist). However, our journey toward gender parity and leadership must be relentless. By championing initiatives like board diversity and leveraging compelling data on the superior performance of women-led companies, we can pave the way for a future where women occupy their rightful place at the helm of innovation and decision-making. My own experiences at the many companies I led, underscore the transformative power of gender diversity, proving that when women ascend to leadership positions, businesses thrive, and societies prosper.

Visit, a canadian women-run-and-operated company launched into the stratosphere two years ago providing affordable, quality ESG reporting and monitoring services, which helps clients improving access to capital sources.

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