After almost a year of hearings, testimonies, and written submissions, the House of Commons Standing Committee on the Status of Women recently presented its report entitled Women’s Economic Security: Securing the Future of Canada’s Economy in the House of Commons. In its report, the Committee calls on the Government of Canada to implement measures to increase women’s economic security and ensure their full participation in the Canadian economy.
The Committee decided to undertake this study because, although women’s economic security and participation in the Canadian economy has undergone a transformation over the past 50 years and women now make up some 47 per cent of the Canadian labour force, significant barriers to their full and equal participation in the economy remain.
Engineers Canada submitted a written brief to the Committee in May 2017 with a series of recommendations on how to increase women’s economic security through their increased participation in the engineering profession. Engineers Canada’s Vice-President of Corporate Affairs and Strategic Partnerships Jeanette M. Southwood, FCAE, FEC, LL.D. (h.c.), P.Eng., IntPE, testified in front of the Committee in May 2017, and was one of 108 witnesses who the Committee heard from during this study.
Engineers Canada was proud to contribute to the Committee’s work and was encouraged to see that the Committee found the information provided in our submission and testimony to be of value to its study.
The Committee’s final report cited Engineers Canada’s input more than 20 times and some of its 86 recommendations directly reflected Engineers Canada’s recommendations and input.
For example, in its submission and testimony, Engineers Canada had recommended that the Government of Canada fund research to investigate why women are not pursuing postsecondary engineering education. “In order to attract young women into engineering education programs, as well as the engineering profession, federal research funding is required to gain a better understanding of why young women are not pursuing engineering as an educational path,” Southwood said during her testimony to the Committee.
“This research should focus on identifying and addressing the factors that are deterring young women from pursuing post-secondary engineering disciplines, even though they have the necessary qualifications and credentials to enrol in those programs. Having this knowledge will be critical in allowing stakeholders to implement the appropriate interventions for addressing what deters young women from engineering.”
Recommendation 64 in the Committee’s report reflected this input and suggested “that the Government of Canada conduct research on the reasons and possible solutions for women’s under-representation in the skilled trades and in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.”
Similarly, Engineers Canada had also recommended that the federal government investigate measures to address the gender wage gap. Recommendations 9 and 10 of the Committee’s report suggested the government study factors that contribute to the gender wage gap, and that it fund initiatives for employers and employees that would raise awareness and counter some of the root causes of the gender wage gap.
Finally, a number of the Committee’s recommendations are intended to foster economic leadership among women in Canada, including women working in traditionally male-dominated professions such as the skilled trades, the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, and entrepreneurship.
The report will provide guidance to the federal government, who is currently working on efforts and initiatives to be implemented that will improve women’s economic security.