New Coalition Set to Tackle a Major Engineering Challenge: The Profession’s Lack of Women

A group of Manitoba’s major engineering employers have joined together in an effort to solve a massive engineering challenge: The lack of female representation in their profession.

 

The Manitoba 2030 Coalition launched this month with representatives present from several of the province’s most prominent engineering employers, including the Province of Manitoba, Boeing, Manitoba Hydro, Hatch, AECOM, StandardAero and the University of Manitoba.

 

The group will develop policies and share tactics aimed at furthering Engineers Canada’s new “30 by 30” initiative, which is working to ensure that women comprise at least 30% of the country’s newly licensed engineers by 2030.

 

The Manitoba 2030 Coalition is a direct response to “Dear 2030,” a spring 2018 campaign developed by Engineers Geoscientists Manitoba in partnership with Toronto-based creative agency, Juliet, which helped facilitate conversations between students and companies.

 

The “Dear 2030” initiative saw students across the province sign petitions demanding that Manitoba’s engineering employers share their plans for welcoming and retaining more women in a traditionally male-dominated profession.

 

Engineers Geoscientists Manitoba subsequently delivered the petitions to the province’s major engineering employers in custom-built boxes. The boxes also housed a video from students as well as resources aimed at helping companies raise the issue both internally and via social media platforms.

 

The Manitoba 2030 Coalition held its first meeting at the Manitoba legislature on Nov. 13 with students from Manitoba schools meeting with employers and the Hon. Rochelle Squires, Minister responsible for the Status of Women. Company leaders listened to students’ thoughts on how women can achieve greater parity in the engineering profession, as well as their thoughts on the changes needed to get there.

 

According to Engineers Canada, the number of female engineers has grown steadily over the past decade – to more than 26,000 in 2016 – yet just 17% of the country’s newly licensed engineers are women.

 

Engineers Geoscientists Manitoba saw a 10% dip in the number of newly licensed female engineers between 2014 and 2016 according to Engineers Canada data. While that was the most of any industry association in the country, this number is in constant flux, with the association often experiencing year-over-year variation of 10%. The group has formally adopted “30 by 30” as one of its organizational objectives.

 

“We have worked hard to address conscious bias, but we are still dealing with systemic inequality in engineering,” says Squires. “We have to confront this unconscious bias head on.”

Engineers Geoscientists Manitoba will spend the coming weeks developing a strategic plan and identifying key priorities. Regular meetings are expected to commence in January 2019, and students will be granted opportunities to meet with the group and provide feedback that could inform its actions.

 

The Vision statement of the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Manitoba states that we seek to have participants reflect societal diversity.  While we have a long way to go to get to equal gender balance and 30 By 30 is a good start, it has been an explicit and consistent Faculty of Engineering initiative for a number of years.  The number of women in our engineering programs has increased in every year for the last 10 years, so that women now make up 22.5% of all students in engineering, and we are committed to ensure a learning culture that supports everyone’s engineering career goals.  Reaching 30 By 30 requires attention to all phases of career decision-making and as Manitoba’s only engineering school, we are invested in outreach initiatives to raise the visibility of engineering in the K-12 curriculum, and we are proud to house the WISE-KidNetic program which reaches 35,000 Manitoba youth per year.  Most of our graduates start their careers in Manitoba, and we are also highly engaged in a large mentoring initiative that supports female graduates and early-career women in their transition to professional engineering practice.  It was inspiring to see the variety of stakeholders present at the Coalition launch, and in particular, the enthusiasm of high school teachers who are nurturing their female students’ love of science, math, and design. 

Client: Engineers Geoscientists Manitoba

Chief Creative Officer: Ryan Spelliscy

Chief Strategy Officer: Sarah Stringer

Head of Art: Denise Cole

Creative Director: Laurent Abesdris

Art Director: Maria Jose Arias

Designer: Duncan Collis

Copywriter: Rachel Harding

Agency Producer: Jes Watson

 

Director: Orlando Braun

Editor: Caitlin Durlak

 

Integrated Producer: Karla Ramirez

Senior Production Artist: JS Wick

Printing Company: PDD Studios Inc.

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