Image of Samara Rincon Rodriguez and Ana Avendaño

On campus

HERizons dismantles gender barriers to help women get ahead

More than 7,000 have received training, support and networking opportunities

February 13, 2024

Funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Women’s Employment Readiness pilot program, Seneca HELIX HERizons is a nationwide initiative founded in August 2022 that seeks to dismantle gender barriers in the workplace by providing free career support and training for women.

To date, more than 7,000 women have benefitted from the HERizons program.

Delivered in partnership with the College of the Rockies in Cranbrook, B.C. and NorQuest College in Edmonton, Alta., HERizons offers targeted workshops, access to HELIX, Seneca’s innovation and entrepreneurship hub and to technology, including laptops and computers.

HERizons provides an assortment of women-focused programming that individuals can take based on their unique needs. Participants can choose from targeted, interactive workshops or immersive virtual reality simulation sessions on a range of topics, like how to prepare for interviews and public speaking. Career development, networking events and courses to help develop essential math and English skills are also available.

“As an international student whose native language is not English, it will always be necessary to continue learning and strengthening those communication skills that are indispensable for success in the workplace,” said Ana Avendaño, a HERizons participant. “HERizons’ Business English allows women of all ages to break the barriers of ‘I can’t’ or ‘I’m bad at English’ and understand that the important thing is to have the tools to communicate, not to become a perfect English speaker.”

HERizons offers flexible course delivery off-hours, such as in the evenings and on weekends, allowing women in primary caregiver roles, or those in different time zones to participate. Registration is available on a first-come, first-served basis and interested attendees must complete an assessment to determine eligibility for select courses, like the math and English literacy training.

“As an international student whose native language is not English, it will always be necessary to continue learning and strengthening those communication skills that are indispensable for success in the workplace”

“I have always embraced new challenges and pursued a results-oriented approach as an engineer, but it was through the HERizons initiative that I found strength and purpose in supporting women like me, who are seeking a successful career path,” said Samara Rincon Rodriguez, a Seneca graduate and Co-ordinator for HERizons. “Our mission at HERizons is to empower women in various aspects of their professional lives, whether it’s entering or re-entering the workforce, changing careers, or even starting their own businesses.”

“Women are severely underfunded when it comes to entrepreneurship for several reasons,” said Lindsay James, Senior Development Officer, Major Gifts, Advancement & Alumni. “This is a missed opportunity, because we know that Ontario’s economic recovery will largely be driven by entrepreneurs engaged in launching and scaling new enterprises. The inclusion of women and other marginalized groups in the entrepreneurial ecosystem is necessary for both their own recovery and development and that of the entire province and country.”

Image of Samara Rincon Rodriguez and Ana Avendaño

Samara Rincon Rodrigues (left), Co-ordinator, HERizons, and Ana Avendaño, Student Ambassador, team up to create workshops for women.

Findings from the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s 2020 report, The She-Covery Project, further show that women entrepreneurs face unique challenges in starting and scaling their businesses due to significant barriers.

For example, many women continue to shoulder a double burden of work as they remain responsible for most domestic duties while participating in the workforce at nearly the same rate as men. According to the report, closing the gender gap in entrepreneurship alone could add up to $81 billion to Canada’s GDP.

The HERizons initiative provides wrap-around supports including free childcare services, offered through a partnership with Seneca’s Early Childhood Education program, as well as bus passes and micro grants for female entrepreneurs to assist in removing barriers to participation.

Together with The Scotiabank Women Initiative, the second annual HELIX RISE Summit will take place virtually on Nov. 13 from 1 to 6 p.m. It will feature a series of female keynote speakers and thought leaders who will share valuable insights for entrepreneurial success.

To learn more about HERizons, click here.

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