By Marg Latham, Chair of the Canadian Center for Women in Science Engineering Trades and Technology (WinSETT)
Given WinSETT’s focus on promoting the critical issue of diversity in STEM fields, Engineers Canada has frequently helped promote the organization’s initiatives, including their support for Canada’s engineering regulators, who have regularly worked with WinSETT to provide workshops on women’s leadership and diversity for their members. Marg Latham, Chair of WinSETT Centre and President of Aqua Libra Consulting Ltd., recently described her organization’s work to increase women’s participation in science, engineering, trades, and technology…
So much is being written in the news these days about increasing the number of women in leadership roles, on boards and in occupations, such as in science, engineering, trades, and technology, where they are underrepresented. The business case has been made over and again. Better results, more ethical decision-making, more creative solutions that mirror those organizations are serving, and many other powerful reasons have been given for why increasing women in these areas should be an imperative for any organization. Creating a positive environment where women and all employees can thrive maximizes Canada’s human resource potential, increases innovation, and drives economic development. As with any long-ingrained issue, the difficulty is in the how. What actions are needed and how successful are they?
The Canadian Centre for Women in Science, Engineering, Trades and Technology or WinSETT Centre, as we have come to be known, is an action‐oriented, non‐profit organization that was launched at the Canadian Coalition for Women in Engineering, Science, Trades and Technology (CCWESTT) Conference in 2010 in Winnipeg, following regional consultations and three national forums with key stakeholders, including women in Science, Engineering, Trades and Technology (SETT). WinSETT Centre is focused on fostering opportunities that encourage women to enter, stay, grow, and lead in SETT careers. Our work is supportive of the Engineers Canada’s goal of having 30 per cent of newly registered engineers be women by 2030. However, we see achieving that goal as one small step in the longer-term vision. We envision a world where women participate fully in science, engineering, trades, and technology.
Our theory of change involves a multi-faceted approach.
- WinSETT positions women for success by giving them the tools that they need to stay, grow and lead in SETT workplaces. WinSETT Centre does this by offering our Women in SETT Leadership Program coast to coast in Canada. The program includes six facilitated, day-long workshops for women that are based on the experiences of Canadian women in SETT and the latest Canadian and international research. We have delivered over 150 workshops to over 2000 women in major centres across Canada. WinSETT has also developed close to a dozen special topics for mixed-gender audiences to help women in SETT and to improve SETT workplace culture.
The program includes assessments of the level of organizational capability before and after each workshop. Women who have taken the workshops stay in touch and continue to focus on their progress through the WinSETT Leadership Network, a forum that includes upcoming events, discussion boards, blogs, news, and research for women in SETT. Our program helps to retain women in SETT careers.
- WinSETT works to influence and improve workplace culture by helping employers assess their current state, set objectives, and build a plan that includes suitable and proven policies, training, and interventions. The overall aim is to help employers create more respectful and inclusive workplaces for all of their employees. Through our projects, we have worked with researchers and industry partners to develop tools and training to assist employers who are taking the lead in making changes in their workplaces.
- WinSETT acts as a national hub for information and research about women in SETT to provide partners, employers, women in SETT, and other like-minded organizations with the information they need to facilitate culture change within their organizations and beyond. WinSETT Centre takes a national focus on advocating for women’s full inclusion in SETT workplaces and fosters links between academia, industry, governments, associations, unions, and non‐governmental organizations.
- WinSETT celebrates women in science, engineering, trades and technology so all Canadians, and especially girls and young women making career choices, hear about the women who have made great contributions in their fields and led the way for others.
The time has come to act. Let’s work together to create a world where women participate fully in science, engineering, trades and technology.
If your organization has the will but is struggling with the way to increase women in these fields in your workplace, WinSETT Centre can help. We are also always seeking like-minded partners and sponsors who support our vision and mandate.