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The Future of Women in STEM: A Multifaceted Approach


Katie Bieber is an IT Recruitment Consultant in Roevin’s Edmonton branch. She brings over three yearKatieBiebers of professional experience to her role and in Edmonton’s tech sector.  Katie focuses on clients in the IT realm and has developed exceptional connections and a network of candidates in the STEM field. She works with many passionate and pioneering candidates who overcome impressive hurdles as the only women applying for a role or being the only women on a team. Their perseverance and success have inspired her own passion for promoting women in the tech arena.

With March being National Engineering Month – coupled with International Women’s Day falling on March 8th — Adecco is continuing our look at the underrepresentation of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields.

The topic has become an increasingly important point of discussion. Various government bodies, reports, studies, organizations, mission statements and think tanks have explored it in recent years.  The problem has almost unanimous support — both from diversity advocates and the STEM sector itself. In 2010,  Natural Sciences and Engineer Research Council of Canada (NSERC) released an 84-page report on Women in Science and Engineering in Canada which explored the “under-representation of women in the various fields of science and engineering” and noted that this long-recognized problem was “of concern to the…NSERC”.

Are women really underrepresented in STEM?

Undeniably, yes!


According to the 2011 National Household Survey, women accounted for only 39% of university graduates aged 25-34 with a STEM degree, compared with 66% of university graduates in non-STEM programs.  Moreover, the percentage of women working in the fields has barely changed in 30 years. In 1987, 20% of the STEM workforce were women. Today, it is still only 22%.

And as NSERC pointed out in their report, “Virtually all countries in the world, to varying levels, have fewer women than men studying in the NSE” (natural sciences and engineering).

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Women in STEM: An Interview with Réjeanne Aimey

March is National Engineering Month — a celebration of engineering excellence commemorated by Engineers Canada since 1992. This year’s theme of “There’s a place for you” recognizes inclusion, diversity and opportunity in the engineering field. Coupled with today being International Women’s Day, we thought it the perfect occasion to profile inspiring women in the engineering profession and show budding young female technicians and scientists how rewarding a career in engineering can be. Below is Adecco’s interview with Réjeanne Aimey, P.Eng, MBA — an experienced and inspirational engineering professional based out of Toronto — discussing not only her experience as a woman in STEM but also a woman of colour in this highly competitive and historically exclusive field.

RejeanneAimeyRéjeanne is Canadian born and was raised in Trinidad and Tobago from the age of 3 to the end of high school. While in Trinidad she became heavily involved in music from the age of 6, learning music theory and playing the piano to achieve the highest grade certifications possible from the Trinity College of Music in London, UK. She attended the prestigious Bishop Anstey High School, a school for girls where entrance is determined based on academic ability. After her return to Canada, she attended the University of Western Ontario, in London, where she completed a Bachelor of Engineering Science in Mechanical Engineering. Réjeanne’s professional pursuits have been multiple and included work in R&D, structural, noise and vibration, and durability analysis using finite element techniques, lean continuous improvement, nuclear reactor engineering, heavy industrial equipment maintenance, software implementation, and SR&ED consulting. She is also a member of Professional Engineers Ontario and the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers. While working, she completed a Master of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix.  Réjeanne’s goal is to increase her visibility in the hope that it will encourage others to exceed their goals, to foster STEM learning among youth, and to advocate for the engineering profession in Ontario.

What made you first fall in love with STEM?

I’ve had a curiosity about the world for as long as I can remember. It first started off at a very young age with my toys. I remember wanting to learn how they worked and most importantly — how they moved. I realized quickly that, at first, my brother’s toys seemed much more engaging than those given directly to me. Even today, boys’ toys seem to have pre-determined motion built into them while girls’ toys are stationary and require the child to use her creativity to create motion! So I played with them both, but the boys’ toys immediately satisfied my curiosity and developed my intellect much more.

Also, there was always some interesting project happening around my home that I was curious about. These ranged from the mixing of cement and gardening to building a dog house, an outdoor pond, or baking a cake. Lots of stimulation for me there.

When I started school and was first exposed to science, there was no question that it was for me. As I was exposed to more and more topics, my interest grew and there was no looking back.

Growing up, did you always want to get into the engineering field?

To tell you the truth, I always knew it was an option, but I wasn’t completely sure in my teenage years because of my love of art. I am no Monet, but I recall thinking that I loved them both equally and considered architecture to be the perfect marriage between art and science. In the end, though, I chose engineering because I felt it was much more stable and I could always pursue my artistic endeavours through other avenues.

I should add that my father is a civil engineer and there are many other types of engineers in my extended family. Many people that I’ve mentioned this to think that an engineering path was guaranteed for me, but my family never sat me down and told me to do engineering. When I did mention my decision, they were happily supportive nonetheless.

Did you have a mentor/role model in STEM that inspired or encouraged you to get into the field?

“I can’t recall one black female engineer or scientist whom I looked to for inspiration, but I recall many women who had broken gender barriers…”

The high school I went to instilled in us that there is no limit to our pursuits. I can’t recall one black female engineer or scientist whom I looked to for inspiration, but I recall many women who had broken gender barriers in various other fields. All I knew is that I liked motion and science, I did well at it academically, I could do whatever I wanted, and engineering was it.

Have you encountered sexism and/or racism in your technical education and profession?

I would answer “yes, ” but it did feel more like racism than sexism. I feel that I can make that determination because though I was born in Canada, I was raised in another country that is a melting pot of a variety of races and cultures. My family members held positions in their chosen fields, most country leaders looked exactly like me, I was surrounded by others who mostly looked like me, no one’s ambition was tempered in academia due to their family’s socio-economic status — so there was no question about my abilities or pursuits. I attended one of the best high schools and studied alongside some of the most intelligent and successful women I will ever meet in this lifetime. So I know what equal and preferential treatment feels like and there was a definite shift in that feeling once I arrived back in Canada.

How did you overcome it — mentally and practically?

“My character is defined by a variety of pursuits — when things appear to not go well in one area, my other interests keep me happily engaged and entertained.”

My ambition, resolve, drive, and determination is strong — qualities instilled in me by my family, friends, teachers, and elders. It definitely helped growing up in the environment that I did. For the most part, I ignored any slights I noticed along my journey and was grateful for the opportunities I did receive. A valuable opportunity always seemed to become available to me when I needed it, and that has made up for all the treatment I received that I felt was racist, sexist, or unfair. To be fair to those who introduced these unnecessary barriers, I truly do not believe some of them were fully aware that decisions they made were based more on perceptions of my race and culture than on my actual abilities.

Also, I suppose that because my character is defined by a variety of pursuits — when things appear to not go well in one area, my other interests keep me happily engaged and entertained.

How do you think we can better encourage girls and women — particularly women of colour — to get into engineering?

First off, I think that kids should always be bombarded with opportunities to learn about science and technology. STEM can be applied to practically every interest area in today’s world, so there really is no excuse for not including a demographic due to their perceived lack of interest. I think that when introduced with qualities that all excellent teachers should exude – intelligence, patience, caring, attentiveness, fairness, and equality – any child would excel in STEM.

Whether male or female, I think we need to start from youth. If we don’t inspire kids through the toys that they play with as a child, or from the positive influence of family members or family friends, then we should be able to attract them to STEM through a fair and equal education system. There are also many extra-curricular endeavours available that can help. One such endeavor I am involved in is the Women in Engineering and Science (WIES) Design Competition which runs over 2 weekends in the summer and is open to kids ages 11 to 14. Last year, we taught kids how to design, build, and market apps for common sports injuries. This year we are hoping to include mechanical design and 3D printing. The solutions that the kids came up with last year rivalled those of professionals. We are looking for sponsors, volunteers, and participants for the competition coming up in July so it would be a great venue for educators and corporate sponsors to get involved and make a difference on the ground.

As a society, we tend to only value those we know, or who look and sounds like us, so until we overcome that, I believe that girls of colour need to see and be engaged by women of colour in STEM fields to know what is possible for them. Profiles like this — along with the recent ‘HERstory In Black’ feature from CBC and How She Hustles — definitely help, so I’d like to express my gratitude to Adecco for including me in your feature.

What practical steps can educators, legislators and employers take to make engineering a more welcoming profession for women?

Educators can help by ensuring that all kids are equally exposed to STEM topics and directing them to resources that foster their interests.

Legislators can help by pushing to eliminate streaming or phasing in schools to ensure all kids (regardless of race or gender) have equal access to information and continue to be stimulated by those who are both more and less intellectually advanced than they are.

Employers can help by providing worthy opportunities to women and minorities, and by establishing audited mentorship programs so that they can advance.

What advice do you have for young women of colour who are considering a career in engineering?

“Giving up is not an option. You can do it.”

My advice would be to go for it. Make sure you keep your grades up and if you need help, keep seeking it until you get it. The right people will always be made available to you once you put in the effort, and you must be prepared for the ‘right people’ not having anything in common with you apart from your love of engineering. Push the boundaries of your learning if you can by becoming involved in STEM projects after school. Disassociate from those who discourage you. If you cannot disassociate, ignore those who discourage you from pursuing what you value, whether it is family or ‘well-meaning’ friends. Giving up is not an option. You can do it.

Employment Report – January 2017

Employment Rates


Employment rose by 48,000 (+0.3%) in January, building on gains observed in the latter part of 2016. The unemployment rate fell by 0.1 percentage points to 6.8%.

On a year-over-year basis, employment rose by 276,000 (+1.5%), with most of the increase occurring from August to January.

Following a significant increase in December, full-time employment held steady in January. Compared with 12 months earlier, full-time employment was up 86,000 (+0.6%), with increases totalling 141,000 since August.

Despite little change in January, part-time employment was up on a year-over-year basis (+190,000 or +5.6%). In January, 19.6% of employed persons worked part time, compared with 18.8% the same month a year earlier.

In the 12 months to January, the number of hours worked declined by 0.8%. In general, changes in actual hours worked reflect a number of factors, including changes in the composition of employment by full-time/part-time status, industry, occupation, age and sex.

From December to January, employment increased among core-aged men and women (25 to 54 years old). There was little overall employment change among the other demographic groups.

Compared with December, employment rose in Ontario, British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador. In contrast, there were fewer people working in New Brunswick. Employment was little changed in the remaining provinces.

Nearly all of the employment growth in January came from the service sector, with increases in finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing; business, building and other support services; transportation and warehousing; and public administration. On the other hand, there were fewer people working in information, culture and recreation.

The number of private sector employees edged up in January, while public sector employment and the number of self-employed workers were little changed.

Employment increases for the core working-age population

In January, employment for men aged 25 to 54 rose by 30,000, and their unemployment rate fell by 0.3 percentage points to 5.9%. The employment increase in January was the largest in over two years. On a year-over-year basis, gains for men in this age group totalled 69,000 (+1.1%).

Employment among women aged 25 to 54 increased for the second consecutive month, up 27,000 in January. Their unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 5.3%. The recent gains for core-aged women boosted their year-over-year employment growth to 76,000 (+1.3%).

In January, employment among youths aged 15 to 24 was little changed on both a monthly and a year-over-year basis, while their population growth continued on a downward trend. With more youths searching for work in January, their unemployment rate increased by 0.7 percentage points to 13.3%.

Employment among men aged 55 and older was little changed in January. However, their unemployment rate decreased by 0.5 percentage points to 6.5% as fewer men in this age group searched for work. In the 12 months to January, employment among men aged 55 and older rose by 65,000 (+3.2%) and their population increased by 156,000 (+3.1%).

Employment among women aged 55 and older was also little changed in January, and their unemployment rate was 5.3%. Compared with 12 months earlier, 64,000 (+3.8%) more women aged 55 and older were working and the number of women in this age group was up by 159,000 (+2.9%).

Provincial summary

Employment in Ontario rose by 29,000 in January. The unemployment rate for the province remained at 6.4% as more people participated in the labour market. Compared with 12 months earlier, employment in Ontario was up by 90,000 (+1.3%), with all of the gains from August to January.

In January, employment increased by 11,000 in British Columbia, continuing an upward trend that began in the spring of 2015. In the 12 months to January 2017, employment increased by 82,000 or 3.5%, the fastest growth rate among the provinces. Over the same period, the unemployment rate fell by a full percentage point to 5.6%, the lowest among the provinces.

There were 4,200 more people working in Nova Scotia in January, and the unemployment rate fell by 0.6 percentage points to 7.7%. On a year-over-year basis, employment in the province increased by 9,800, partly due to the low reached in January 2016 and the fact that employment in the province has picked up recently, with most of the gains occurring since October 2016.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, there were 2,200 more people employed in January, and the unemployment rate fell by 1.3 percentage points to 13.8%. Employment in the province has been trending downward since May 2016.

Following an increase in December, employment in Quebec held steady in January. As the number of unemployed decreased (-15,000), the unemployment rate declined 0.3 percentage points to 6.2%. Compared with January 2016, employment in Quebec was up by 97,000 or 2.4%, powered by gains in the second half of 2016.

In Alberta, employment was unchanged in January, with part-time gains (+25,000) offsetting losses in full time (-24,000). The unemployment rate rose by 0.3 percentage points to 8.8%, as the number of people searching for work edged up. On a year-over-year basis, employment in Alberta was little changed.

In January, there were 3,000 fewer people working in New Brunswick, leaving employment for the province at about the same level as 12 months earlier. The unemployment rate edged down by 0.4 percentage points to 8.9%, the result of fewer people participating in the labour market.

Unemployment Rates


Industry perspective

Employment in finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing increased by 21,000 in January, bringing gains from 12 months earlier to 59,000 (+5.3%), with most of this increase concentrated in the last six months.

There were 16,000 more people working in business, building and other support services in January. On a year-over-year basis, employment in this industry was little changed.

In January, employment was also up in transportation and warehousing (+11,000), contributing to an increase of 23,000 (+2.5%) from 12 months earlier.

Employment in public administration rose by 7,800 in January, bringing total gains to 52,000 (+5.7%) from 12 months earlier. Over this period, gains were strongest at the local, municipal and regional level, with increases also observed at the federal and provincial levels.

Information, culture and recreation employment declined by 13,000 in January. Compared with January 2016, employment in the industry edged up 21,000 (+2.8%).

The number of private sector employees edged up in January (+32,000), building on the strong growth in the second half of 2016. In the 12 months to January, the number of private sector employees rose by 257,000 (+2.2%), with increases in a number of service sector industries as well as construction.

Both public sector employment and the number of self-employed workers were little changed in January. On a year-over-year basis, the number of public sector employees rose by 68,000 (+1.9%), the result of additional employment in public administration and information, culture and recreation. Self-employment edged down over the same period.

Canada–United States comparison

Adjusted to the concepts used in the United States, the unemployment rate in Canada was 5.7% in January, compared with 4.8% in the United States. In the 12 months to January, the unemployment rate fell by 0.5 percentage points in Canada, while it was little changed in the United States (-0.1 percentage points).

In January, the labour force participation rate was 65.8% in Canada (adjusted to US concepts) and 62.9% in the United States. The participation rate in Canada was unchanged compared with 12 months earlier, while it increased slightly in the United States (+0.2 percentage points).

The US-adjusted employment rate in Canada stood at 62.1% in January, compared with 59.9% in the United States. On a year-over-year basis, the employment rate rose by 0.4 percentage points in Canada and by 0.3 percentage points in the United States.

Historical perspective on the Canadian labour market

As 2017 marks the 150th anniversary of Confederation, we take a brief look at the history of the Canadian Labour Force Survey (LFS).

After the Second World War, Canada experienced massive changes as the country transitioned from a war economy to a peace economy. The LFS was designed to meet the need for reliable and timely data on Canada’s labour market conditions. It started as a quarterly survey in November 1945 and has been a monthly survey since November 1952, producing leading economic indicators each month, such as the employment rate and the unemployment rate.

In 1946, the employment rate was 53.1%, increasing to 61.1% in 2016, as a result of a number of factors, most notably higher labour force participation among women over the course of this period.

The unemployment rate more than doubled during the history of the LFS, from 3.4% in 1946 to 7.0% in 2016. There was variation over time due to historical and economic factors. The unemployment rate was higher during periods of economic downturns, reaching a high during the recession of the 1980s. It was lowest during the post-war period of the late 1940s.

Source: Statistics Canada

Take the Lead: February 8, 2017

Have you ever considered working in a contact centre? If you imagine a warehouse with rows and rows of headsets, you’re likely picturing a call centre from days gone by. Modern contact centres have changed quite a bit in recent years and encompass client support through not just calls, but often emails and chats as well.

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Canada Ranks 13th in the 2017 Global Talent Competitiveness Index

gtci-2017-full-reportThe Adecco Group has once again partnered with INSEAD and the Human Capital Leadership Institute to produce the Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI) — an annual benchmarking report that ranks 118 countries according to their ability to grow, attract and retain talent.

Launched for the first time in 2013, The GTCI provides a tool-kit for governments, businesses, organizations and personnel throughout the world to prepare them for the future of work. Its wealth of data and analysis is intended to help countries overcome talent mismatches and be competitive in the global marketplace.

Why is talent so important?

Talent has become the ‘currency’ of the global labour market and therefore something that decision makers in business, policy and academia need to understand in depth.

Talent is increasingly becoming the subject of intense debate, and these arguments are not simply about skills shortages. Talent competitiveness lies at the heart of important societal issues, such as unemployment, immigration, education and economic growth — whether in the context of restoring post-crisis prosperity, creating jobs for the young, maintaining momentum in high-growth economies or lifting entire nations out of poverty.

The global workforce must recognize the skills they will need for the future, governments must understand how they can secure the right to work for their citizen and countries need to ensure they remain competitive in the global economy.

What global talent trends have emerged?

The 2017 study focuses on how technology is affecting talent competitiveness and the nature of work, exploring both significant challenges and opportunities, and important shifts away from traditional working approaches.



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Webinar: How to answer the 15 most common interview questions

  This year marks a significant shift in the workforce. Millennials now represent the largest percentage of the workforce for the very first time, with 28% already sitting in management positions and 2/3 seeing themselves in management roles within the next ten years. As more millennials assume management positions, you may be noticing changes in […]

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