Action and remembrance - APEGBC Moves Forward on Promoting Gender Diversity

Posted on December 05, 2013
This week marks a mournful anniversary, as APEGBC remembers the 14 women who were killed during the tragedy at L’École Polytechnique on December 6, 1989. As we take this opportunity to reflect on the contributions of women in engineering and geoscience, we are reminded that though the need for skilled professionals in these fields increases, the gender imbalance is still very much a reality.
When APEGBC’s Women in Engineering and Geoscience Task Force (WIEGTF) presented its final report to Council this past summer, it shared critical data and findings that highlighted the continuing gender inequity in the engineering and geoscience professions.  We learned that, in comparison to other professions, engineering and geoscience recruit substantially fewer women and that more women leave these two professions than others requiring a similar level of education. In fact, only 11% of professional engineers and geoscientists in BC are female.
Since its inception in March 2013, the task force has helped APEGBC to work towards addressing this imbalance and enhancing the retention and advancement of women in the professions. The WIEGTF report presented a number of recommendations, including assessing APEGBC policies to ensure they don’t create unnecessary barriers to the retention of women; providing non-traditional mentoring structures in the mentoring program (e.g. virtual mentoring); and benchmarking our efforts by developing key performance indicators (e.g. number of women entering/staying in the professions, compensation equity, etc.).
From these recommendations, an implementation plan was created and various initiatives for implementation are already underway. A full list of the recommendations can be found on the APEGBC website. As implementation continues, APEGBC will continue to benchmark its efforts and to underscore the value of a gender-diverse workforce through career awareness resources, networking opportunities, and education.
The need to address the presence of women in the professions has been at the forefront of APEGBC’s initiatives since the early 1990’s with the inception of the Division for the Advancement of Women in Engineering and Geoscience (DAWEG). This special interest division is a group where members can exchange ideas in order to help develop policies and initiatives to change the face of the professions to a more gender-inclusive one. DAWEG membership is open to any member of the association. For more information, see the Divisions section of our website.
DAWEG will be hosting a December 6th Memorial and Holiday Social that will memorialize the 24th anniversary of the tragedy at L’École Polytechnique as well as acknowledge the importance of women in the professions. The event is open to all APEGBC and DAWEG members and their guests. A portion of the registration fee will go to the Canadian Engineering Memorial Foundation. For more information, please visit APEGBC’s events page.
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