Women make up more than half of the Canadian population but are significantly underrepresented in the engineering profession; less than 13 per cent of practicing licensed engineers are women.
Over the past decade, the number of women in the engineering profession in Canada has steadily grown. Engineers Canada’s National Membership Report contains valuable data on the state of the engineering membership. This annual report has tracked an increase in the number of women who are practising professional engineers from 12,740 in 2006, to 26,113 in 2016. Women now account for12.8 per cent of practising professional engineers in Canada.
Engineers Canada also collects information on engineering education through its annual Enrolment and Degrees Awarded Report. As of the 2016 report, the percentage of women enrolled in engineering programs is slightly higher than in the membership of the engineering profession, with women accounting for 20 per cent of total enrolment in accredited undergraduate engineering programs at Canadian post-secondary institutions. Enrolment of women in these programs had peaked in 2001 at 21 per cent of total enrolment, and has been increasing at a rate of about one per cent per year since 2008.
Despite a steady increase in the representation of women in engineering—both within the profession and in university engineering programs—women still remain under-represented in this field. Engineers Canada is committed to increasing the representation of women in the profession so that it is more diverse, inclusive, and reflective of Canadian society.
Engineers Canada’s advocacy for women in the engineering profession
Engineers Canada actively supports and promotes a number of programs, activities, resources, and events that aim to spark young women’s interest in engineering, that encourage women to pursue engineering in their post-secondary studies, and that promote the retention of women in the engineering profession. Engineers Canada also supports research initiatives that investigate the root causes of the under-representation of women in engineering, with the goal being to improve upon the factors that dissuade women from pursuing an engineering education and career, or that lead to the attrition of women once in the engineering workforce.
Engineers Canada also advocates on behalf of the engineering profession to the federal government on issues that affect women in engineering. For example, Engineers Canada engages with members of Parliament and other decision-makers on changes to maternity and parental leave legislation, on pay inequity, on labour market and workforce research, and on funding for STEM learning activities for Canadian youth.
Engineers Canada recognizes the hard work of advocates for women in the engineering profession through an annual Award for the Support of Women in the Engineering Profession. The Award recognizes engineers who, through their engineering and career achievements, have demonstrated noteworthy support for women in the profession and have established a benchmark of engineering excellence. It is presented during the Awards Gala held each year in conjunction with Engineers Canada’s Annual General meeting in late May or early June.