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On International Women’s Day and everyday, the engineering profession continues to #PressforProgress

2018.03.06

Russ Kinghorn

By: Russ Kinghorn, MBA, FEC, P.Eng., IntPE

On March 8, 2018, Engineers Canada joins organizations, groups, governments, and individuals the world over in celebrating International Women’s Day.

With movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp, the past year has seen a growing momentum behind global activism for women’s equality. Now, more than ever, there’s a strong call to press forward, to press for gender parity, and to #PressforProgress.

This year’s International Women’s Day theme, #PressforProgress, is a strong call to motivate communities to think, act, and be gender inclusive.

In the engineering community, we have been pressing for progress for many years, and will continue to do so until the engineering profession more accurately reflects the demographics of Canadian society. Women make up 50 per cent of the Canadian population, and yet only account for less than 13 per cent of practising professional engineers.

But through purposeful collaboration and valuable partnerships, Engineers Canada is dedicated to increasing the participation of women in the engineering profession by identifying initiatives that attract greater numbers of women to engineering, promoting their retention in the profession, and demonstrating the value of diversity and inclusivity in engineering education and in the workplace.

For example, Engineers Canada and the provincial and territorial engineering regulators have committed to raising the percentage of newly licensed engineers who are women to 30 per cent by the year 2030—a number that is currently at 17 per cent nationally. Engineers Canada and each regulator has assigned a dedicated 30 by 30 champion, and these champions, along with representatives from post-secondary institutions and other engineering organizations held their first in-person meeting in January to discuss how they can amplify each other’s individual efforts to make 30 by 30 a reality.

But in order to address the issues that are affecting women’s entry into the profession, engineering stakeholders need to also be supported by national, government-driven policies that encourage youth—and especially girls—to consider pursuing post-secondary engineering education and an engineering career. For this reason, Engineers Canada has been actively advocating to the federal government to fund and support initiatives that encourage girls and women to pursue STEM subjects, and engineering in particular.

In the same vein, Engineers Canada has also been advocating changes to the current maternity leave system so that once women enter the profession, they are able to balance their career with the demands of family care. Inflexible leave options and limited regulated opportunities for alternate work arrangements are often contributing factors to the attrition of women in the engineering profession. In our recommendations to government, we have advocated for flexible alternatives, including working part-time, teleworking, or job sharing, so that more women join and remain in the engineering profession.

These are just a few of the ways that Engineers Canada is working towards gender parity in our profession. And it is with the support of the whole engineering community, of government, and of like-minded stakeholders that we will be even stronger in our #PressforProgress.

So this International Women’s Day, I encourage you to tell us below what you will do to #PressforProgress towards gender parity in the engineering profession (only available in English).