Did you know that Alberta has one of the highest rates of income inequality in Canada, when comparing the wages of men to women? On average in Alberta, women will earn about 40% less than men. It has been suggested that this income inequality is based in part on Alberta’s industrial economy (oil and gas, agriculture, etc.) which tends to hire more men than women, and higher compensation for traditionally male-dominated jobs, such as engineering, but this view ignores the fact that women have been making up an increasingly large proportion of those graduating from advanced science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields in increasing numbers for the last 25+ years. Other factors, such as insufficient childcare, hiring bias, and an extra 35+ hours of unpaid work done every week by women in and out of the home, are more likely contributors to this inequality.
The Alberta Women’s Science Network (AWSN) Work Re-Engagement Program, funded by Status of Women Canada, seeks to increase the number of women working in STEM fields in Alberta by removing the barriers many women (including immigrants and refugees and those with visible and invisible disabilities) face in joining STEM occupations. Of particular relevancy to CIES are the highly skilled female doctors, engineers and scientists that immigrate to Canada but find themselves unable to work due to needed educational upgrades, language barriers and family caretaking. As a first step towards increasing the participation of women in STEM fields, the Work Re-Engagement Program is conducting surveys among Alberta companies that hire STEM women. Respondents will be polled on topics related to the STEM workplace, such as the perceived benefits of workplace diversity, the unique contributions that women and minorities can provide to the workplace, and potential barriers to workplace equality. Data from this survey will inform a series of best practices and recommendations put forward by AWSN at a later date, with the aim of increasing diversity in the STEM workplace. Five employers (from among those that completed the survey) will be chosen to implement these best practices, at which time they will receive a certificate of recognition from AWSN and Alberta Status of Women.
What can you do?
If you or someone you know is a woman working in STEM or has a STEM background, check out the Work Re-Engagement Program’s new website, and consider becoming a general member. As a part of the AWSN network, you will have access to career connections, mentorship programs, and advance notice about upcoming events. Let AWSN advocate and prepare you for success in your chosen career.
If you are a STEM women employer, the Work Re-Engagement Program can provide you with a community of STEM women that will have access to your job postings, reports, and services.
For more information on AWSN and the Work Re-Engagement Program, please contact Mikayla Kardynal, Public Relations Officer, at 587-439-7909.