Celebrating Women Innovators in Canada’s Tech Space

March 8, 2024

On International Women’s Day, we recognize the role women have played throughout history to advance our civilization forward, often in the face of misogyny and oppression. Today, Focus FS is proud to highlight some contributions and achievements of women who have made significant impacts in Canada’s technology space.

1. Donna Strickland: Pioneer in Laser Physics and Computing Education

Although Donna Strickland is widely acclaimed for her groundbreaking work in laser physics, she also has a significant impact on computer science education. As an accomplished physicist and Nobel laureate, Strickland has advocated for the integration of computer science into the curriculum, recognizing its fundamental role in shaping future generations of scientists and engineers.

2. Shawna Pandya: Astronaut, Physician, and Tech Innovator

Dr. Shawna Pandya exemplifies the intersection of multiple disciplines, including medicine, space exploration, and technology. As a physician, astronaut, and entrepreneur, she has demonstrated the potential for collaboration between medicine and computer science. Dr. Pandya’s work emphasizes the crucial role of technology in enhancing medical research, space exploration, and healthcare delivery.

3. Maria Klawe: Academic Leader and Advocate for Diversity in Tech

Maria Klawe, a renowned computer scientist and academic, has made significant contributions to both the field and the promotion of diversity in technology. Serving as the president of Harvey Mudd College, she has actively worked to increase the representation of women and underrepresented minorities in computer science and engineering. Klawe’s efforts highlight the importance of fostering inclusivity and diversity to drive innovation in the field.

4. Suzanne Fortier: Champion for Scientific Research and Women in STEM

Dr. Suzanne Fortier, a distinguished scientist and academic leader, has been a strong advocate for scientific research and women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). As the Principal and Vice-Chancellor of McGill University, Dr. Fortier has championed initiatives to support women pursuing careers in science and technology. Her contributions extend beyond the laboratory, emphasizing the need for gender equality and diversity in the entire STEM ecosystem.

5. Huda Idrees: Tech Entrepreneur Transforming Healthcare

Huda Idrees is a Canadian tech entrepreneur and the founder of Dot Health, a platform designed to empower individuals with control over their health data. Her innovative work showcases the transformative potential of technology in healthcare. Idrees’ commitment to leveraging computer science for social impact exemplifies how women in Canada are actively contributing to solutions that address real-world challenges.

At Focus FS, we are humbled to stand on the shoulders of the women who have built the Canadian tech sector into what it is today, from pioneering research to fostering diversity and inclusion. The stories of Donna Strickland, Shawna Pandya, Maria Klawe, Suzanne Fortier, and Huda Idrees highlight the diverse paths and impactful contributions of women in the field. As we celebrate their achievements, it’s crucial to continue supporting and empowering women in STEM, ensuring a more inclusive and innovative future for the discipline and the world.


Strickland, D. (n.d.). Faculty Profile – Donna Strickland. University of Waterloo.

Nobel Media AB. (2018). The Nobel Prize in Physics 2018 – Press Release

Astronautics Institute. (n.d.). Members – Shawna Pandya.

Nature. (2023). Editorial: Overcoming gender bias in science. Nature, 602(7896), 525.

Harvey Mudd College. (n.d.). About Harvey Mudd College – Maria Klawe.

Forbes. (n.d.). Maria Klawe.

Harvey Mudd College. (2012). Harvey Mudd College President Becomes U.S. Citizen

McGill University. (n.d.). Past Principals – Suzanne Fortier (2013-2022).

University Affairs. (n.d.). The Struggle for Gender Equity in University Leadership.

University of Toronto Engineering Alumni. (n.d.). Alumni Bios – Idrees Huda.

The Globe and Mail. (n.d.). The startup CEO dragging Canadian health care into the future.

Please note that for online sources without a publication date, “n.d.” (no date) is used.

International Women's DayWomen in Science and TechnologyWomen in Technology