New Report: Do Women (and Men) Face Barriers to Advance Their Careers?

OSPE releases new report identifying how STEM employers can change the gender landscape in Ontario

In 2017, thanks to funding from Status of Women Canada and the engagement of OACETT and our many partners, OSPE’s Breaking Barriers team embarked on a study to understand the systemic barriers women (and men) experience in STEM fields and programs.

“The feedback OSPE received was phenomenal – with over 3,000 survey responses from across the country, the survey truly resonated with Canadians and sparked a national conversation about gender equity in STEM,” said Sandro Perruzza, Chief Executive Officer of the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers (OSPE).

The project team also conducted interviews and focus groups with 81 participants, and analyzed 2016 Canada Census data, to better understand these complex barriers and complete this new report.

What type of responses informed OSPE’s new report?

New Report - sound bites

Today, OSPE is pleased to release our new report entitled Calling all STEM Employers: Why Workplace Cultures Must Shift to Change the Gender Landscape. The report reveals that the challenges experienced by women working in STEM fields or pursuing post-secondary STEM programs are quite similar.

Among the barriers encountered by women in STEM workplaces were the following:

New report stats

Key FindingsInterestingly, the study found that workplace challenges identified by women in STEM decrease as the number of women increases. Six common strategies women in STEM use to overcome workplace barriers are also outlined – ranging from communication techniques to finding a mentor/support system.

The new report concludes by outlining actions STEM employers, post-secondary institutions, and high schools can take to change the gender landscape in traditionally male-dominated fields and to create equitable workplaces and environments.

“OSPE encourages all STEM employers in Ontario to download the report and consider what role they can play to address the barriers women experience. Organizations benefit in terms of recruitment and retention of talented employees when there is an equitable and inclusive workplace culture,” says one of the project leaders, Annette Bergeron MBA, FEC, P.Eng., President Engineers Canada. “As the report notes, breaking down these barriers will require a cultural shift, and we believe employers have a significant role to play.”

Next Steps


Next steps for the Breaking Barriers team include developing a technology-based tool and sharing best practices with employers.

Download a copy of the new report. To view our key findings at-a-glance, download OSPE’s infographic. Join the conversation online by using the hashtag #LetsBreakBarriers.


For more information about OSPE’s Breaking Barriers project, contact Tess O’Mara at

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