Today is International Women’s Day (IWD), a time when we celebrate the amazing women in our lives and come together to work towards a common goal – gender equality in our workplaces, communities and society. As a champion of Engineers Canada’s 30 by 30 initiative, and the lead organization behind the Breaking Barriers project for women in STEM, funded by Canada’s Department for Women and Gender Equality, OSPE is committed to #InnovateForChange and to help make the STEM fields more equitable, diverse and inclusive.
This year for #IWD2019, the Department for Women and Gender Equality is calling on everyone to harness technology to eliminate the gender gap that currently exists in the STEM fields. The goal is to use technology to remove barriers of entry for women into STEM and to create innovative solutions that will transform industry and strengthen the Canadian economy. How can OSPE members support this goal?
Angela Wojtyla, P.Eng., Chair of OSPE’s Women in Engineering Advocacy Champions Task Force (WEACT), explains, “When innovating, technology is usually the focus. Women are natural problem-solvers, and we can utilize this attribute to deliver personalized technology experiences. This human touch will lead to innovative change – be energized to look beyond the technicalities!”
How else can we #InnovateForChange in the engineering profession?
According to Status of Women Canada, only one in every three STEM graduates are women, and this figure is even lower in the fields of engineering and technology. To address this, OSPE’s ‘Let’s Break Barriers’ initiative has focused on increasing women’s participation in STEM by working with STEM professionals, employers, educational institutions, students, governments, and others to:
- Collect and analyze grassroots perspectives;
- Create and promote evidence-based workplace and government policy recommendations; and
- Develop and pilot strategies to address systemic barriers including using technology-based tools designed to support women in STEM.
OSPE intends to drive change by harnessing both these research findings and technology to create the soon-to-be-launched DiversifySTEM app. In collaboration with OACETT and other partners, the new app for STEM employers will deliver fast, bite-sized, actionable microlessons on promoting gender diversity in the workplace.
The app will provide practical tips for shifting the gender landscape and changing workplace culture. It will be ideal for anyone looking to better understand not only the barriers that women face in STEM, but also how they can directly break down those barriers in a variety of ways. Stay tuned for updates as the app development approaches completion!
OSPE’s Women in Engineering Advocacy Champions Task Force will also host the 17th Annual Claudette MacKay-Lassonde Forum on June 18, 2019, bringing together industry professionals and thought leaders for a day of critical thought that will further discussion just like this. This year’s theme, “It’s Time We Build”, will focus on the importance of strong professional networks, including what it takes to succeed in the modern workplace.
Attendees will have an opportunity to engage with each other on several topics including leadership, negotiating skills, licensing, confidence and career transitions, and employers can connect with talented women who may be seeking new opportunities.
Check in with the It’s Time We Build event page regularly for more details.
Everyone benefits from a more diverse and inclusive engineering profession, so in honour of #IWD2019, let’s all be tenacious in accelerating gender parity and collectively #InnovateForChange.” Today and every day.