Professional development in engineering can serve two important roles for the goal of gender equity. Firstly, professional development opportunities need to improve the understanding of diversity of the entire workforce in order to create a culture shift. The role of men as allies is crucial to making welcoming workplaces for women and through dedicated professional development opportunities, men can be supported to become diversity champions.
Secondly, resources need to be created and implemented to ensure women who are in the profession can access the same levels of professional development as their male counterparts. Professional development that is targeted towards women can help women advance their careers in engineering within an organization, engineering faculty, or engineering company. By dedicating specific programs to the professional development of women, employers show their commitment to supporting women in a male-dominated field and in addressing the barriers to women’s professional success in engineering.
Engineers Canada recognizes the hard work of advocates for women in the engineering profession through an annual Award for the Support of Women in the Engineering Profession. The Award recognizes engineers who, through their engineering and career achievements, have demonstrated noteworthy support for women in the profession and have established a benchmark of engineering excellence. It is presented during the Awards Gala held each year in conjunction with Engineers Canada’s Annual General meeting in late May or early June.
Engineers Canada also supports various research initiatives, events, and professional development opportunities that support women in the engineering profession and that encourage more diverse and inclusive engineering workplaces. For example, there are several national opportunities and events, supported by Engineers Canada, that allow women to engage, network, and build a sense of community. They include:
- The Conference on Diversity in Engineering (CDE): Hosted annually by the Canadian Federation of Engineering Students, this conference brings together engineering students and engineering professionals to explore ways to advance diversity and inclusion in engineering education and in the profession. Engineers Canada supports workshops and facilitates connections with local regulators each year.
- CCWESTT Conference: For over 25 years, the CCWESTT conference has been a biennial event that brings together national and international subject matter experts, employers, senior executives, government representatives, and others in science, engineering, trades and technology (SETT) at all phases of their career to share their knowledge and experience around diversity and inclusion.
- The Global Marathon: Global Marathon is an annual, free, set of online webcasts and webinars that empower women in engineering across the globe. Engineers Canada participates on the DiscoverE (US) Thought Leaders group, helping to organize Canadian speakers and promote the Global Marathon to the Canadian audience each year.
- WinSETT Centre: The Canadian Centre for Women in Science, Engineering, Trades and Technology advances women’s leadership in the technically skilled workforce by delivering workshops to advance the retention and leadership of women in science, engineering, trades, and technology fields and to create a positive culture for women in the workplace.