Students gathered to listen to Julia Slanina talk about femtech. Photo credit: Zaynab Safa

Students at Algonquin College started off their third Thursday of March by learning about “femtech” with Julia Slanina.

“This issue is important. Julia was talking about this thing called Femtech Canada, which is this amazing new organization driving women into driving technology,” said Kevin Holmes, who runs the social innovation lab at Algonquin.

During the Third Thursday event, students gathered around at the AC Hub in the Student Commons to listen to Slanina go through slides about the importance of femtech and what femtech is about.

Femtech is a phrase used to describe a group of programs, tests, products and services that frequently use technology to concentrate on the health of women. The word “femtech” was first used in 2016 by Ida Tin, the creator of the well-known menstrual cycle-tracking app “Clue.”

Femtech’s main objective is to assist women in understanding their bodies and making wise health decisions. To improve maternal health, this includes creating tools to detect and monitor menstrual cycles, ovulation and fertility.

“My role on campus has a large connection to women’s health initiatives. The parallels (are) to sexual health education provided through Project Lighthouse and Treehouse which are organizations connecting pregnant women and new moms to allied health care professionals,” said Sarah Crawford, manager of sexual violence prevention, harm reduction and wellness at Algonquin.

Students were offered cookies and free coffee while listening to Slanina’s presentation. Slanina also reserved the last half an hour for the audience to ask any questions.

“Femtech is great for students to learn about because tech world is traditionally a male-dominated industry. It is great to see women-led initiatives, and tech initiatives that are interested in women’s health and women’s healthcare. It is great for all students to hear more about the different companies taking over the tech world,” said Crawford.

“I’m in healthcare and hearing her talk about how women need so much more help in healthcare, I feel like it’s given me a better direction on how to deal with some of my more vulnerable or younger clients,” said Panayiota Kioulos, an occupational physiotherapy assistant program student.

“My sister who recently just had a son and is a young mom, I feel like maybe even she can benefit from learning or talking to someone like Julia,” said Kioulos.

“Julia is one of my clients in the social innovation lab,” said Holmes. “Third Thursdays started before the pandemic. It was about bringing people together in different places in the college to talk about issues that are harder to talk about or aren’t talked about.”