Upcoming workshop will provide strategies for attracting, supporting, and retaining top female talent admin May 22, 2015

Jenny Keleher

More Canadian women are choosing education and training in SETT fields (science, engineering, technology, and trades), an important trend given the reported skills shortage that is projected to put Canada’s level of productivity and growth in jeopardy over the next decade. Unfortunately these tech qualifications aren’t translating into equitable employment, compensation, and retention for women when compared to their male counterparts. Why is this happening? And what can we do to change the story for women in SETT careers?

June 3rd, leading up to the Atlantic Connections Conference, BioNB’s Executive Director is co-hosting “Attracting and Retaining Top SETT Talent: A Workshop on Understanding and Creating Gender Inclusive Workplaces” along with the President of Engineers and Geoscientists NB. This workshop module is aimed at managers, executive leadership and human resources professionals, and is designed to raise awareness of the factors that influence the success of women in their organizations, assess current workplace conditions, and share effective policies and strategies to attract, support, enable, and retain talent.

BioTalent Canada published their “Opening the Door” salary and demographic profile for science careers this year. One startling statistic reported women’s starting salaries were $6,728 less than their male counterparts for comparable jobs. SETT-educated women are trained to be technical and attentive to detail, rather than to be leaders and to negotiate their worth.

SETT-trained women also experience higher rates of unemployment than men: only 26.9% of SETT-educated women end up employed in SETT careers, compared to 43.6% for men (source). Meanwhile, they comprise a disproportionately low  percentage of the SETT workforce and make up only 16.9% of directors for the country’s largest ICT firms’ boards. To tackle this disparity, the Canadian Federal Government recently announced a “comply-or-explain” model for companies to put a gender diversity policy in place and will soon announce requirements for female representation on boards of publicly-traded companies.

In addition to these low figures, attrition rates are arguably a worse problem. 52% of highly qualified women quit their SETT jobs, with 48% of them moving onto other tech firms and 52% abandoning their field altogether (source). Consider these numbers and how they translate to the overall productivity and bottom line of your organization.

In today’s modern world, why is this still happening?

  • 39% quit due to extreme work pressure;
  • 38% quit due to a “hostile macho culture”;
  • 27% quit to due compensation;
  • 63% reported workplace sexual harassment;
  • 35% reported a lack of mentorship;
  • 44% reported feelings of isolation. (source)

This discouraging reality represents a lack of sensitivity,  awareness and effective practice on the part of employers in Canada.

The June 3rd workshop will aim to address the workplace issues that are driving talented women away from SETT careers. Sexual harassment, a lack of mentorship, and feelings of isolation do not have to be a reality for talented Atlantic Canadian women. Let’s change the story for women in SETT careers in Atlantic Canada.

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