We are going to translate it and distribute it afterwards.
Good morning, witnesses. Welcome.
Today, we have the pleasure of hearing from Marie Connolly, a professor at the Department of Economics, Université du Québec à Montréal.
From the Canadian Association of Women in Construction, we have the pleasure of having Ms. Tammy Evans, who is the president. By video conference from Halifax, Nova Scotia, from Irving Shipbuilding Inc., we have Madame Anna Marenick, who is the director of community relations and value proposition; and from the Women Unlimited Association, we have Ms. Doreen Parsons, who is the manager.
By video conference from Toronto, Ontario, we have, from Unifor, Ms. Lisa Kelly, director, women's department—thank you for waving—and by video conference from Windsor, Ontario, we have, from Unifor, Ms. Teresa Weymouth, national skilled trades coordinator.
We're all looking forward to your testimony. We especially want to thank you for coming today.
Has someone been left out? Pardonnez-moi.
By video conference from Umea, Sweden, we have, as an individual, Ms. Kathleen Lahey, professor, faculty of law, Queen's University.
Thank you all very much for being here. Without further ado, each presenter will have 10 minutes, and then we will have the rounds of questioning.
Ms. Connolly, you have the floor for 10 minutes.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you, members of the committee, for hearing me today.
It's my first experience testifying in front of a committee, so bear with me.
I will make my presentation in English.
I'm fully bilingual so ask questions in either language.
What I'm going to present to you today—and you should have the notes from my presentation—are the results of the study I did. I'm going to skip the introduction on who I am; I'm a professor. It's a study I did with my colleague Brahim Boudarbat, which was published a couple of years ago in the Canadian Journal of Economics. We looked at the gender wage gap among recent post-secondary graduates in Canada. It was about men versus women, not specifically women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. However, I do have a few things to say about that based on the research. I'm happy to present the relevant results of the study to you.
In this study, the broad objectives are not about women in STEM. It describes the trends in the gender wage gap between 1998 and 2007. It's an empirical study. We looked at the difference between the mean wage for men and the mean wage for women. We also looked at differences in men's and women's wages for low wages and high wages.
The data we used is from the national graduates survey from Statistics Canada. This survey is a representative sample of post-secondary graduates by cohort, so you have people who graduated from post-secondary institutions in Canada in 1986, 1990, 1995, 2000, and 2005. The most recent time period in my study is the 2005 cohort, which was surveyed in 2007, two years after graduation. There is also data from 2013 on the 2009-10 cohort, but it's not part of the study. It wasn't available when we performed our analysis but it is now available.
We selected a sub-sample from the survey of full-time salaried graduates with college or university degrees, aged 50 or less at the time of graduation. In 2000, that amounted to just over 9,000 men and close to 12,000 women, for a total of 21,000 people. We looked at the differences between men's and women's hourly wages—not earnings, not income—for the mean wages, as well as for low wages, which we define as wages at the 10th percentile of wage distribution, and high wages, which are at the 90th percentile of wage distribution.
We used a methodology called a decomposition. It's a description of the differences between male and female wages. It's a sort of accounting exercise where we look at the differences we can explain and the differences we can't explain. Part of the difference that is explained is due to different characteristics of men and women. I'll give a quick example.
Suppose there's a 10% difference between men's and women's earnings. We look at the characteristics we can observe and we see that, on average, men have more experience than women. People with more experience earn more, so there could be a part of the wage difference that we can attribute to the fact that, on average, women have less experience than men. That's just an example.
We're going to try to apply that methodology to account for the differences. We're going to look at the wage gap, and then we're going to try to account for differences that come from various characteristics, which are: education level; number of years experience; province of residence; field of study; permanence of jobs, meaning whether or not someone holds a permanent job; occupation; industry; presence of children; age of the youngest child; and marital status. For this presentation today, I'm going to focus on the field of study and occupation because they are broad-level categories from which I can identify who's in STEM and who's not. We're going to show results from those.
In the general findings for the 2005 cohort in 2007, at the mean, women earned 5.9% less than men. The average wage for a woman was close to 6% less than the average wage for a man. This has been relatively constant since 1988, as shown in my study.
We also see that for what are considered to be low wages, the difference is less. The gap is smaller, 2.6% less for women. For higher wages, it is bigger, 8.2% less for women. The other thing that's interesting is that the gap for low wages has been decreasing over time, and that for high wages has been increasing over time. Another thing to note is that the gap generally increases with time after graduation.
I will skip the next slide in the interest of time, but you have it. It is the overall results from the decomposition. I'm skipping it to have more time to look at the field of study, which I think, is the most interesting for this committee. The first column shows the 10 broad categories of fields of study. I have highlighted in yellow the ones related to STEM. You have physical and life sciences and technologies; mathematics, computer and information sciences; as well as architecture, engineering and related technologies.
The two columns after that, “Men” and “Women”, show the distribution. If you look at architecture, engineering, and related technology for men, 25% of the men in my sample have a degree in architecture, engineering or related technologies. That figure is just 4.1% for women, so it's more than six times higher for men than it is for women. The same can be observed for mathematics, computer and information sciences. Almost 9% of men have a degree in that field and only 2.2% of women do. What's interesting is to look at the difference in the wage gap. The 38.5% that you see in the column, “Mean,” under “Fraction explained by %” means that, at the mean, if you consider mean wages for women and mean wages for men, 38.5% of that difference can be explained by the fact that women don't study in architecture and engineering as much as men do. If we look at the characteristic of having a degree in architecture and engineering, more men than women choose to get that degree and that translates into there being a bigger wage difference between men and women than there would be if the same proportion of women chose that degree.
I'm going to switch now, for science and technology purposes, to occupation. Now we do the decomposition again. For occupation, one of the 10 broad categories is directly related to STEM occupations. We find that the distribution is the same; 24% of men have an occupation in that category and only 7% of women hold a STEM-related job. That translates into, at the mean, an 18.7% wage difference. For low wages, the difference is 72%. For the top wages, it is only 9%. A very significant part of the gap can be explained by the fact that women don't have STEM-related occupations.
What do we do for this? I was asked to give recommendations. These don't come straight from the research that I just presented, but they're based on other research and general reflections. These are a few bullet points that you can take more time to read.
To hold a STEM job, one needs to have made the choice to study in STEM. We also know that parental aspirations and expectations matter a lot when it comes to educational attainment and choices. Beliefs and biases about gender differences in cognitive abilities are probably larger than the actual differences, and skills can be improved. We also know that impacts of policies and interventions tend to be larger when done earlier in an individual’s life.
I think that before even thinking about changing the work conditions, you need to provide girls and women with role models and you need to aim to modify their expectations and aspirations. In terms of policies that could be implemented, I think there should be a tax credit for scientific activities for kids similar to the credits for physical activities and arts, or you could just lump them all into one credit. You could also fund awareness campaigns about women in STEM to give girls access to female role models in science. You could also fund public outreach and mentoring activities through federal research granting agencies. I know of one such activity called Synapse, through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. I don't know of a similar thing with NSERC, but I may be wrong.
You can also ask for more STEM courses in the curriculum at the high school level, especially mandatory ones, and just generally more funding for research in science and technology.
You can reach me. This is my contact information. I give you two links for reports, including one by the American Association of University Women that cites a lot of research in that area. I don't know if you're already aware of it, but it's a very worthwhile read for this topic.
Thank you very much, Madame Chair, and good morning to you and the committee members.
It is a distinct privilege to address this committee today on women in skilled trades, and I thank you on behalf of the board of directors and members of CAWIC for allowing me to do so.
My presentation today will include a summary review of preliminary results, only, of CAWIC's research to date on women in construction. It's called the CAWIC level best women’s advancement project, and it is federally funded by Status of Women Canada.
I will first briefly provide a little bit of background on CAWIC. CAWIC is a not-for-profit, non-partisan association, initially organized in the early 1980s as the Toronto chapter of NAWIC, which is a U.S.-based organization that's been around since the fifties. Ten years ago, in order to focus more directly on the Canadian construction industry, CAWIC became independent of NAWIC both financially and operationally. We're still affiliated with NAWIC in the U.S.
Our mission is to support women across all sectors of the Canadian construction industry—civil, industrial, commercial, and residential. We represent those who work or who desire to work, as we call it, “on the tools” in the skilled trades or those who supervise, own, service, or supply equipment, materials, or labour to the industry. We actually represent a broad range of women working in the construction industry, and that is emphasized in all of the initiatives through CAWIC.
We received funding through Status of Women Canada to conduct a 36-month project into women's entry, retention, but primarily advancement, within the Canadian construction industry with the end goal to develop an action plan in collaboration with the industry to provide specific measurable action results in the industry. This is to increase women's movement into leadership roles. The project is the first of its kind in that it's collaborative with the industry. The industry stakeholders are developing the program themselves. They are voluntarily participating in the project, responding to the research, and developing the action plan with us. It's a well-known statistic that, where there are more women at the decision-making table, doors are open to more women's entry, retention, and advancement into leadership roles, and those businesses excel right across the world.
CAWIC launched the level best project in 2014, with the knowledge going in that, although women hover around 54% to 57% of the Canadian workforce, women make up only 11% of the construction industry workforce, and less than 4% on the tools. On top of that, we're less than 2% in the boardroom in the industry. These are staggering statistics that have not changed for the past 30 years, so although discussion is incredibly important, action is more important.
CAWIC is currently deep in its needs assessment or research phase of the project, which includes documentary research, as well as directly engaging female participants from across Canada, in primarily three centres. We went coast to coast, to the east coast starting at Newfoundland and Labrador, to Ontario for centre, and to Alberta for west. We're directly engaging the female participants as well as employer partners and the industry leaders in extensive surveys, round-table discussions, and direct interviews to identify the needs and the challenges, both from the female employee side and from the employer side. In order to facilitate the females' participation, we had to ensure that everything was strictly confidential, and all results are aggregated so that there are no identification concerns.
This actually became very important. As we were going through the research, the reluctance of the female participants to participate without the assurance that everything was strictly confidential was actually quite overwhelming. In this way we were able to really solicit very honest and frank discussion and responses, and more complete responses to the extensive surveys. All data has been preliminarily reported, and at the end it will be reported in the aggregate, both to the industry and back to Status of Women Canada.
The needs assessment focused on the following broad target questions, and dived very quickly into very detailed questions under those categories. There were four broad questions. What are the needs of women working in construction? What challenges do women face in entering the industry, staying within the industry, and also being promoted within the industry?
Then we went on to employers. What are the employers' challenges in hiring women, retaining them, and promoting them within their organizations? What actions, at the end, which is where the action plan comes into play, can be taken? What very specific, measurable actions can be taken to improve the numbers?
We first started with a documentary review. There is no end to research on women in construction over the past 10 years. It's incredible the amount of research that is out there. However, none of it really brings in the employers enough. It centres around employment statistics, and those are very valuable in dollar values and contributions to the economy from the industry; however, we needed to drill down specifically to the individual.
From the results that came out, the female participants identified the following primary needs and challenges: a lack of or insufficient or inaccessible training, support, or feedback for promotion; inflexible or hyperintensive work schedules; a generally unwelcome work environment, particularly on the site or in the field; pervasive gender stereotyping; overt and subtle harassment or discrimination; pro-male biases in hiring practices; pay inequity; isolated or remote work locations; extensive travel and project duration; and the challenge of balancing personal family life with work needs.
Females generally responded, through the documentation review, with the following strategies to address these needs: an improved public perception and reception of choosing a career in construction—in other words, an industry awareness campaign—which was top on the list; a demonstrated business case for women's entry into the industry; clear and measurable procurement policies that involve an increase in women's presence and employment in the industry; and career advancement policies to promote women into higher positions.
They also went on to talk more about emphasis on skills competence, so removing the gender language, removing the pro-male biases in human resource policies, and removing language such as “accommodation”, because that terminology brings about negative connotations—so gender neutralizing and more promotion based on skills. For example, removing the names on a resumé, removing the gender in a resumé, brings much greater intent to hire a female than if you have the names present. That came out of a U.S. report, and it was quite interesting. Canada is actually perhaps a little bit ahead of the U.S. in this area.
It also talked about mandatory reporting of female participation and representation in the industry; government labour and employment policy development; investment in human capital by the employers; and participation by the education system at the lower levels, at the primary levels, rather than waiting to get to the high school levels.
Although the female-participant research in our study is preliminary, we did have two extensive surveys with female participants. I've left you my material with some of the statistics that came out of that; some of which I'll identify for you.
The level of education of the female participants was interesting. It actually ranged from apprenticeship training to university degrees, at a rate of 65% all being post-secondary educated. This is important for us, because traditionally a career in skilled trades has been seen in the education system, and generally in society, as the alternative rather than the parallel to university education, in terms of a career. This was an important statistic that we wanted to draw out and understand.
The income levels varied for women from less than $20,000 to 65% having an income greater than $60,000 a year. That's also important in terms of society's view of what a career in construction is. We have to professionalize that view. We have to change that view.
In the employers very preliminary research.... We're only just getting into the employers research stage, but employers who have responded so far represent approximately 15,000 workers in construction. The employers responded that their perception was that women were primarily seeking a good salary, benefits, and flexible schedules in terms of their work. Note that females responded that opportunity for career advancement was their number one, so there's a disconnect here.
Employers also responded that their most critical challenge in recruiting, retaining, or promoting women has been the lack of supply. They said they would invest in policies or measures that would increase the talent pool if it were reasonable. So—
Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak with you today.
As you mentioned, my name is Anna Marenick and I am the director of community relations and value proposition here at Irving Shipbuilding.
Irving Shipbuilding is one company in the J.D. Irving group of companies, with 15,000 employees across its divisions. Most of our businesses are in traditional space: forestry and forest products, construction, transportation, shipbuilding, and marine, are some examples.
JDI is committed to increasing the number of women in STEM careers. We are investing in not only entry level jobs but in advancement of women throughout our organizations. A woman currently leads our white pine lumber operation, the largest of its kind in North America, and the president of Engineers Nova Scotia is a technical director here at Irving Shipbuilding.
Today I want to focus a little bit on some work we're doing at Irving Shipbuilding. It's something called the Irving Shipbuilding Centre of Excellence.
In 2012, following the 2011 award of the combat vessel package under the national shipbuilding procurement strategy, Irving Shipbuilding began a partnership with Nova Scotia Community College to build something called the Irving Shipbuilding Centre of Excellence. We are investing $250,000 annually at NSCC over the life of the NSPS with the mandate of the centre being to create pathways and opportunities for Nova Scotians to participate in shipbuilding with a specific focus on under-represented groups: women, African Canadians, aboriginal persons, and persons with disabilities. Currently women represent 4% of Irving Shipbuilding's trades workforce, a small number to be sure, so this investment sets out deliberately to change that.
From the outset the community told us clearly that this 30-year investment in shipbuilding was something they saw as game changing. The long term nature of NSPS allowed us really to critically examine what barriers existed for under-represented groups to get into STEM.
The centre of excellence is managed by a steering committee with representation from industry, provincial government, academia, organized labour from Unifor, and community representatives like Doreen Parsons who's here with me, and you'll hear from her momentarily.
The phrase we heard again and again from the community was to build this with them in collaborative partnership. Initially, I will tell you, this was met with incredibly great skepticism. While the community felt strongly that capitalizing on NSPS and its impact on Nova Scotians was important, they also worried that no tangible outcomes would materialize. This would be yet another committee, yet another report, and another make-work project. But the time horizon in front of the opportunity was such that we could really take our time to get it right.
In 2014 we held a full-day strategic planning session and we identified three main areas for focus. The first one, and I know the one that Doreen will talk about more, is early pathways to create an environment where women and other under-represented groups could even see themselves in a trade like this. What are the barriers that preclude STEM careers from even being an option for under-represented communities? These barriers existed long before jobs were advertised. This is why, from my perspective in industry, it's critical to have partners in the community who can help identify those barriers and work to overcome them.
The second area of focus is moving to learning to make sure that we are creating a diverse and inclusive learning environment. The third focuses on the workplace itself is to ensure that the workplace is appropriately welcoming for a diverse and blended population.
From that strategic planning session we began our first funding activities. We fund an organization called Techsploration, which works with grade nine girls in Nova Scotia schools to introduce them to mentors in STEM careers. The centre of excellence funded five schools from diverse communities to participate in the Techsploration program.
We are funding 12 two-year bursaries to Nova Scotians from diverse backgrounds to attend NSCC in shipbuilding trades with several teacher investments to come later on this year. But most notably is our partnership with Women Unlimited, a very established program in Nova Scotia that you will hear about more in a moment.
As we speak, 20 diverse women are sitting in a classroom at NSCC on a targeted path for employment at Irving Shipbuilding. You will hear specifics in a moment. Through the centre of excellence, participants in this program receive bursary funding for up to 50% of their tuition costs.
After we made the announcement that the centre of excellence would fund 50% of the women's cost of tuition, two other worker partners voluntarily came forward to support these women, one to support the other 50% of their tuition and the other to cover all of their program-related tools and equipment. These were unsolicited requests and, to me, go to show that there are lots of organizations who want to do more work in this space and who recognize that getting more women into trade careers benefits us all.
This $250,000 investment is one that Irving Shipbuilding will make over the life of the contract in support of increasing diversity in our workforce. Changing buildings and processes are one thing, but changing the lives of 20 women and 20 families in Nova Scotia is game changing, like the communities said in the beginning.
I will also say that getting to this point took several years of hard, dedicated work. Under-representation in any career and fixing that is complicated. We worked hard at creating an environment at the centre of excellence steering table where everyone felt comfortable being honest with each other, to support the same end goal.
I'm quite sure this work won't always be easy, but our position is that having good partners at the table, doing it collaboratively, is the only way it will work. Experienced partners are and will continue to be at the centre of this strategy.
Now I'm going to turn it over to Doreen.
Thank you, Madam Chair and members of the committee, for the opportunity to speak regarding your study on women in STEM occupations.
My name is Doreen Parsons and I am the manager of the Women Unlimited Association, a not-for-profit organization in Nova Scotia promoting the full participation of diverse women in the skilled trades and technology fields.
The Women Unlimited model was established through a collaborative partnership with industry, governments, educational institutions, apprenticeships, and the community to address the systemic barriers that limit the full participation of diverse women in these fields. Since 2005, 570 women have participated in our programs across Nova Scotia, and 94% have successfully completed them. Our programs are offered at four Nova Scotia Community College campuses.
Our model is women-centred and comprehensive in scope, and it provides a continuum of services and supports. It is long term by design, supporting a woman through her full journey from career exploration through to college-level training and into employment. Women are with us for between three and five years.
The Irving Shipbuilding-Women Unlimited pilot program was launched in April 2015. Twenty diverse women were recruited through a joint selection process between Irving Shipbuilding and Women Unlimited. They are participating in a 14-week Women Unlimited career exploration program focused on the metal trades.
Upon successful completion, and with educational funding from Irving Shipbuilding, they will enrol in welding and metal-fabrication training programs at the Nova Scotia Community College in September 2015. I should note that the Nova Scotia Community College has designated seats for these women. The women who successfully graduate from those two-year diploma programs and who meet employment eligibility criteria will be employed by Irving Shipbuilding as positions become available in 2017 and beyond.
In my opinion, the Irving Shipbuilding-Women Unlimited pilot program is groundbreaking as an excellent example of a promising practice. Why? I believe there are five reasons.
The first one is that we have an intentional partnership among Irving Shipbuilding, Unifor, Women Unlimited, the Nova Scotia Community College, and the Government of Nova Scotia through the Irving Shipbuilding Centre of Excellence. This is an innovative, collaborative, and Nova Scotia-grown partnership.
The second reason is that we have a common vision with clearly defined goals. We will contribute to Irving Shipbuilding's workforce strategy, to the centre of excellence mandate, and to Women Unlimited's mandate to increase the number of diverse women trained and working in the marine industry, and we will collaboratively design an inclusive, respectful model.
The third reason is that we have a well-defined action plan and strategy with diverse women at the centre. This strategy includes: a partnership team that will work together for the program duration of three to five years; a customized Women Unlimited program focused on the metal trades, specifically, welding and metal fabrication; a connector pathway designed to address issues related to the success and retention of women in the Nova Scotia Community College training programs; and a commitment from Irving Shipbuilding and Unifor to work together to prepare the ISI workplace.
The fourth reason is that we have well-established trusting relationships and open communication. Women Unlimited has been working in partnership with the Nova Scotia Community College and the Government of Nova Scotia for more than 10 years and building relationships with Irving Shipbuilding and Unifor for almost five years. We respect each other, communicate openly and honestly, and provide joint leadership on this initiative.
Finally, the fifth reason is that we remain flexible and responsive, engaging new members in the partnership and expanding the strategy as required. For example, as Anna mentioned, we have recently engaged two new corporate partners that will contribute educational bursaries as well as tools and equipment for the participating women and significant industry expertise.
In March 2015, Women Unlimited received funding approval from Status of Women Canada's women's program to increase economic prosperity for tradeswomen in the marine shipbuilding industry in Nova Scotia. This project will focus on addressing issues related to the retention and advancement of women in this industry, creating the capacity for more respectful and inclusive workplaces that promote and foster the full participation of diverse women in skilled trades occupations.
Women Unlimited works with women who—
Thank you, Madam, for the opportunity to address you and members of the committee.
I'm going to take a short period of time and then have my colleague Terry Weymouth conclude with some specific examples around skilled trades.
Unifor is an organization representing 305,000 employees and workers across the country in very diverse occupations, from members who make cars right up to pilots. About one-third of our membership is female, so just around 87,000 members. Of our membership, we represent over 40,000 skilled trades.
For our skilled trades numbers, we track about the same as the numbers you've been hearing here, which is around 4% female membership in the trades. In the STEM occupations it's a little bit more difficult to get the numbers on those because as you heard from one of your presenters in an earlier session, there isn't complete agreement on what makes up STEM occupations. But I can tell you that we represent significant numbers of members in aerospace, telecommunications, health care, and the education sector, and I'll give you some examples from those areas.
Across the board we hear from our female members that they have issues with accessible, affordable child care. That is a fundamental issue that affects many of our members no matter which of the areas they're going into. Where we have members who work in shift work or in intensive work scheduling, there is also a difficulty in balancing the roles that women play in taking care of their family members—their children, their parents—and fulfilling other roles, and balancing that with work as well.
We've identified some of the same issues you're hearing from others, the streaming and the lack of role models. You'll hear from Ms. Weymouth about how you need to see it to be it, and you'll hear about some of the role modelling that we've been trying to be party to. There is attitudinal barriers not only within young women in what's open to them but there still remain attitudinal barriers of employers in giving opportunities. Again, I won't go through all of our brief but you'll see some more examples in there.
We have looked at the women in our STEM occupations and found that they still cluster in the lower wage and lower security occupations. The example I've given is that we represent a university that does a lot of health care research, and the principal investigators who have more secure jobs tend to be male, and the women tend to be the research assistants working on one-year and 18-month contracts. Eventually we hear from our members that they need to leave that precarity in order to seek out something more secure that might take them out of a STEM occupation and certainly take them out of the trajectory they might have otherwise been in. So movement within the careers is identified there.
Harassment is still an issue where an employer is not giving a clear signal that women are welcome and that women are there because of their ability. We do find there is resistance to women being in workplaces where they are the overwhelming minority.
I'm going to throw it over to skilled trades specifically and to some promising examples. But before I do, again on a broad basis, in our trade union education we try to make sure people are exposed to diverse members delivering that education from different occupations.
I'm happy that we're going just after the Irving Shipbuilding example and that it's not just white women. It's also women of colour, it's also women with disabilities, and it's also racialized men. We try to bring in our anti-harassment, respectful workplace education. We also have a program of joint investigation where there are allegations of harassment or of a lack of a respectful workplace.
We have a scholarship offered to women going into a male-dominated field. That was put in place by one of our predecessors, the CEP, following the Montreal massacre, and tries to encourage women and give them the support they need in order to take steps that at the time when that scholarship was put in place were usual for women.
I'll throw it over to Terry.
Thank you, Madam Chair, and distinguished members of the committee.
My name is Teresa Weymouth and I'm the Unifor national skilled trades coordinator for Chrysler. I'm here to speak to you about women in skilled trades. I come to you with 26 years of experience as a journeyperson and an electrician, and 10 years as the national coordinator.
Employment and Social Development Canada has reported within the next decade 25% of skilled trades in Canada will be eligible to retire and that is over one million jobs. Sector councils are currently forecasting skilled shortages in mining, construction, petroleum, automotive, and in electricity. While discussing this impending loss to the workforce it must be addressed that while women make up 48% of the Canadian workforce, the Conference Board of Canada reports that typically less than 3% of all apprentices that are in construction, automotive, and industry trades are women. This clearly indicates that women are an untapped resource, poised to serve the future of both the skilled trades and on a greater scale the Canadian economy.
A few of the barriers for women in trades that we will look at, while also looking at Unifor's promising practices, are: sector awareness, language and terminology, and a lack of access to apprenticeships.
The first barrier I would like to address is the lack of sector awareness. It is important for women to seek out trades as a career option. It is one thing to not choose a pathway, it is another to not know the opportunity exists. Our country's superstructure is built by trades, but women are not a part of it. The question is, why? Unifor has addressed the under-representation, stereotypes, and lack of skilled knowledge through education. The development of the Unifor women's skilled trades and technology awareness program utilizes practical and hands-on workshops. We have delivered this program in various forms since 2001. We will go into more detail in promising practices.
The Unifor skilled trades department is in the process of doing a comprehensive gender, sector, and classification survey. This survey of skilled trades testimonials will be used as a form of outreach to students. The process of uncovering testimonials provides a link to potential mentors and provides a network to other trades.
Our trades are in the most technical areas of the country. When we lose jobs in this area, we lose skilled trades, which results in the loss of transfer of knowledge. This means there's no longer an opportunity for skilled tradespeople to mentor the apprenticeships.
The second barrier I would like to address is language and terminology. The term non-traditional implies that these jobs are not normally associated with women and reinforces the negative notion placed on these occupations. Adjusting terms goes a long way in changing work environments from exclusive to inclusive. To explore this notion of exclusive language, Unifor conducted a survey of 500 women to better understand what the phrase “women in non-traditional occupations” meant to them. Participant responses highlighted how language reinforces gender bias. For example, women associated this term with women doing men's work.
A literature review conducted for this survey indicated there is no internationally standardized definition of what constitutes a non-traditional occupation. StatsCan and the U.S. Department of Labor define a non-traditional occupation as a job in which one gender makes up less than 25% of the total number of workers in that occupation. Agencies in Saskatchewan and Quebec report that a non-traditional job is an occupation where 45% and 33% respectively of the workers are women.
This enforces the notion that the term “non-traditional job” is no longer a useful term in this time of change for women's roles in the workplace. To address this issue, Unifor has proactively presented our study findings on terminology and language to the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum, changed references of “non-traditional” in all skilled trade presentations, and in 2009, changed the designation “journeymen” and “journeywomen” to “journeyperson” in our collective agreements.
Finally, as to the lack of access to apprenticeship, we took a look at Unifor promising practices. We see more pre-apprenticeship programs readying women to opportunities in the trades. Our skilled trades department and master bargaining committees recognize the need for a collaborative, innovative strategy to build diversity in our skilled trades workforce.
Change often requires intervention and positive actions. Our union has participated in a number of promising programs to increase the participation of women in trades.
In 2009 one of our former unions to Unifor, the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union, participated in a joint venture with the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology. The women in trades program, through the CEP humanity fund, educated over 20 aboriginal women in the Regina area on the basics of the construction industry.
In 2010 CAW, now Unifor, partnered with the Saugeen First Nation education department to promote skilled trades for indigenous women. A three-day program was offered at the CAW Family Education Centre. The women assembled and participated in workshops on the apprenticeship system, basics of electrical wiring, and health and safety. They also programmed robots and participated in mock interviews—
Thank you very much for this opportunity to speak to you about this. I am not going to focus on the question of skilled trades so much as address the educational trends concerning STEM-area educational programs. I would like to pick this up by noting that despite all of the recommendations that were made by this committee in its 2010 report, which was entitled “Building the Pipeline: Increasing the Participation of Women in Non-Traditional Occupations”, the situation in Canada has actually gotten worse, not better.
I would like to begin by unpacking some of the statistics that were presented to this committee in this particular study in earlier hearings this year. Namely, Statistics Canada presented information that suggested that there has been a great improvement since 1991 in the whole STEM education area. It is true—and I think this committee should be aware of this—that between 1991 and 2005-06 the number of women in various STEM education programs in universities and colleges in Canada did improve. In fact, in some areas, the programs had enrolments of women as high as 44%, which is headed toward equality.
However, as of 2007-08, in every single one of the sub-disciplines that are classified as STEM educational programs, the number of women has not only fallen significantly, but it is lower than it had started out in the early 1990s, so there is a significant reversal that has been taking place over the last 10 years.
The only exception to that is programs in geology, but that is really just because there were a few percentage points above the original 2002 levels that this particular study I am referring to looked at. This is based on data that was assembled by the National Council of Deans of Engineering and Applied Science and the professional association of engineers, Engineers Canada.
In particular, I would draw this committee's attention to the fact that in the most male-predominant sectors of the STEM educational areas—namely electrical, mechanical, software and computer engineering, and mathematics departments—the percentage of women is between 9% and 12%, which is an unbelievably low number of women. This is with the large number pilot projects, and so on, that have been aimed at this particular problem. I would say the time has come to face the fact that the ways in which the government of Canada is tackling this problem are simply not working. In order to assist this committee in looking for perhaps more robust solutions, I would like to draw attention to the fact that Canada's methodology for studying the problem of STEM enrolments in universities and colleges does not stand up when compared with the approaches taken in the United States, or the EU, or other advanced economies.
Specifically, the difference is that Canada has continued to use the methodology of collecting first-person accounts, small sample studies, pilot projects, and community, cooperative, or industry-led projects that are of a very localized level and not particularly embedded in any kind of regulatory framework.
At the same time, the employment equity laws have become almost dysfunctional in terms of correcting gender imbalances as the result of long-standing practices of discrimination, and the federal contractors program, which is meant to ensure that the corporate sector is non-discriminatory even though it's not fully regulated under employment equity laws in all jurisdictions, is nonetheless going to be subject to some sort of regulation. The difference is, I believe, in addition to the non-use of the regulatory tools, which the government has and should be using for the well-being of everybody in Canada, it is not rigorously using scientific methodologies that are easily available to the government of Canada to get a close understanding of what the problems are.
When the U.S. and when the EU went about studying what the problems were in the STEM areas educationally, they assembled independent blue ribbon panels of leading gender, employment, labour, and industry experts to collect as much information as they could, not only with desktop interviews and studies but also with on-the-job scientific studies that calibrated what was going on. They came up with a remarkably similar set of recommendations, none of which have ever been seriously made in the Canadian context.
What have these independent studies shown? They have shown that, consistent with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women—the UN convention which has produced a significant number of policy requirements that are binding on all governments that signed that convention, including the Canadian government—that it's going to take full stream or full force gender mainstreaming and gender-based analysis on a continuing basis in every aspect of the educational structure in order to correct these kinds of deficiencies. The recommendations are as follows.
First, ensure national sex equality laws and government departments responsible for their application have effective means of monitoring for gender imbalances on a continuing basis in all occupations and particularly in the STEM areas with respect to trades education and employment.
Second, establish a high-level ministry for women's affairs at each level of government including local levels that have independent statutory authority and funding to carry out investigations and address departments in deficiencies that do not meet sex equality standards that guarantee parity or 50-50 representation for women and men in all aspects of Canadian life.
Third, governments need to actively commit to and carry out ongoing gender analysis of all of the programs. For this purpose I would like to remind you that just a few years ago with the Canadian chairs program, 19 multi-million dollar chairs were established in universities to ramp up Canada's performance in innovation and scientific research. Every single one of those appointments was to a male candidate, and part of the reason for that was that the entire short list consisted of nothing but male candidates.
Industry Canada became concerned about this enough to put the program on hold for a short period of time, brought it back, and this time—the second time around—14 appointments were made, and all but one were men.
The continuing inability to even maintain a semblance of gender balance in the chairs program had originally led to a Canadian Human Rights Commission case and a settlement agreement in which there was to be gender equity in all of those chairs from that time on, which was in the early 2000s. This is something that is just simply not being done at all.
Further recommendations that came out of the U.S., EU, and other highly scientific studies included the requirement of funding on a permanent basis and not on a mere project basis; active, independent, and professionally staffed networks for women in science, who are both supported in their own research as scientists and as gender experts in overcoming the gender barriers.... It's a sort of double burden that has to be funded by the government, because women in the STEM educational areas cannot possibly do both jobs at the same time.
The list goes on to require that there be adequate resources for returnees and immigrants who experience tremendous amounts of discrimination, even though a lot of effort goes into recruiting people in the scientific areas to come to Canada. Also, the strong recommendation in both of those studies and others like it is that flexible, affordable child-care programs and meaningful paternity leave are maintained in all aspects of skilled trades and STEM education employment and research areas.
Finally, there is a strong set of findings that a great deal of the responsibility lies on the shoulders of the corporate culture, where—as has already been noted—very few women are even on the boards of directors. The management pipeline for management in the areas that do the most STEM hiring has been shrinking for the last 10 years, and the supply of women moving up into the CEO levels has been shrinking year after year, with no solution in sight.
First of all, I would point out that the Canadian Academies has already done a very comprehensive study that encompasses the kinds of problems that exist in the STEM educational areas in Canada. It's a very recent report. It contains a lot of very concrete proposals and scientific findings of the same nature as those produced in the U.S., the EU, and some of the other countries.
It has been ignored, but it should not only be taken into very serious consideration, it should also be redone and updated. The government has a very serious role to play in carrying out a profoundly detailed investigation. I would hasten to add that the Canadian Human Rights Commission settlement that was reached in relation to the under-appointment of women to some of the prestigious chairs in universities should be reactivated. That is something that is completely withering right on the vine.
Beyond that, the whole tax transfer system, because it has been subjected to so much austerity, has placed a great deal of pressure on universities, with the result that tuitions have been rising rapidly. Young women going into university are facing larger amounts of debt than young men going in. Even at the age of 16, there is now a wage gap in Canada that grows rapidly by the time women reach the ages of 32 to 34, and it just doesn't go away.
Women who do undertake to gain these kinds of expensive educations and put their whole employability on the line by daring to enter into a very discriminatory area of education and employment after graduation also come out with higher levels of debt, lower incomes compared to their male cohorts, higher debt repayment payments every month, and longer repayment periods. In the long run, they end up with much less net wealth, much less economic security, and much less ability to attain financial stability, compared to the very same men they went through their educations with.
It's a very complex, multi-layered problem, and as it's permitted to persist in Canada, it's simply going to grow and become more difficult to solve.
What's working there is the list that I started down. It contains a total of 15 particular programs, all of which need to be mounted by and monitored by governments. It begins with putting effective non-discrimination laws and programs into place with commissions and compliance bodies that have enough funding to be able to go out in the field and see what is actually happening on the ground by collecting contemporary data, making sure that every possible inequality is being addressed immediately, and having sufficient remedial powers to take steps to correct them. That's the number one, most effective tool that has been shown in a study in the EU involving the 27 core EU countries and the 10 new EU countries. It was carried out by using all of the tools of econometrics and statistical analysis to find out what factors really make a difference.
Then going down the list it's the items that I mentioned in relation to gender mainstreaming and having a fully effective and enforcingly capable Status of Women organization at every level of government to carry out this ongoing kind of invigilation, because these problems are not unique to STEM. As I was going to say at the end of the last question that I was asked, people have held up the example that women lawyers are doing so much better so it must be a unique problem in the STEM area. In fact, that's just simply not the case.
When the Law Society of Upper Canada carried out a comprehensive study a few years ago of how women in law were doing, they found that, number one, the number of women has been falling as the costs of law school tuition have been going up; number two, that full-time women lawyers who have children perform an average of 35 hours of unpaid work each week in caring for children, caring for elders and other members of the family, and caring for their homes. They're the same age, it's the same year of graduation, the same type of work, but male cohorts only performed an average of 13 hours of unpaid work each week.
Canada can pick up a huge burden off the shoulders of women in all sectors, all occupations, by taking the $22 billion that will be spent this year to subsidize women's unpaid work in the home and use just half of that to set up a national child care program that would immediately transform the range of options that are realistically available to women. That has also been demonstrated to be true in this massive EU-EC study that was carried out very recently. The reality is that until all of the caring functions that women, because of their sex, are expected to perform out of the goodness of their hearts or perhaps out of the lack of alternatives, are lifted from them and shared equally by society as a whole—using government as part of the way society expresses its goals and aspirations—this problem cannot be solved.