Katie Bieber is an IT Recruitment Consultant in Roevin’s Edmonton branch. She brings over three years 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?
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).
Not that long ago, it was common for only one parent – typically the father – to work, supporting a family of three to four children and a stay-at-home mom. But, of course, times changed and women entered the working world in droves. Currently, they make up more than half of the North American workforce, and this cultural and socioeconomic shift has presented women with many choices and challenges: Forego a family for corporate success? Sideline career goals to raise kids? Or somehow juggle both? And with time, these questions have become even more daunting as work-life balance becomes more out of whack and the cost of living, including child care expenses, continues to increase despite more than 20 years of virtually stagnant income growth. In fact, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Canada’s highest earning two-working-parent families spend 18% of their net income on child care expenses – the fifth highest out of 30 industrialized countries that were studied. Considering this statistic, it’s no wonder that over two-thirds of Canadian women with children under the age of five are in fact working. Conversely, in some regions, a woman may choose to be a stay-at-home mom simply because the cost of daycare outweighs what she would make going back to work. But what happens when that stay-at-home mom decides to go back to work? Read more
Women in engineering have, unfortunately, always been a rarity. The same can be said of women in technology, specifically information technology, as well as other technical fields, including mathematics and science. In Canada alone, the amount of women in engineering programs has declined from 21% in 2001 to just 17% in 2009, with only 10% of licensed engineers being women. Likewise, according to the Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC), in 2009, women only made up about 25% of those in information and communication technology studies. And this trend is not unique to Canada; engineering and technology suffer the similar deficits in the US and the UK. In fact, according to the American Association of University Women (AAUW), women make up only about 25% of those pursuing an education in science, technology, engineering, and/or mathematics – the so-called STEM segment.
Once upon a time, ridiculous stereotypes perpetuated the idea that women aren’t as capable in the technical fields as men. Of course, long since those stereotypes began, study after study has disproven them. So, if women can perform just as well as men in engineering and technology roles, the questions remain: Why aren’t there more women in engineering? Why aren’t there more women in technology? Some of the possible answers to these questions are disturbing, suggesting widespread sexual discrimination within the engineering and technology industries and/or that our society still clings to long-held, incorrect assumptions about half of the population. In fact, the absence of nearly half the potential workforce in what are arguably Canada’s most crucial sectors is not only a moral shame, but possibly also a looming economic one. Diversity, be it among the sexes, among cultures, or among age groups, allows for more creativity and innovation. Without diversity, teams, companies, and entire industries can easily become intellectually stagnant. Read more
Last month’s article on the “office mom” – in honour of Mother’s Day – examined stereotypes of women in the workplace and how characteristics typically associated with femininity, such as compassion and affection, may be a welcome instillation into today’s world of work, especially with regard to leadership styles. So, in honour of Father’s Day this month, we’re taking a close look at the upheavals and discoveries that are forcing us to rethink what it means to be a man and a father – and how employers should respond to these new perspectives, particularly when it comes to paternity leave. Read more
Many of us know her. She’s always cheerful, quick to provide professional and personal advice, frequently brings in homemade goodies, and is everyone’s shoulder to lean on. And now, thanks to The Wall Street Journal as of about a month and a half ago, she has joined the illustrious likes of the office gossip, the office grump, the office clown, and many more. She is the “office mom”; the mother hen of the white collar world, and the latest addition to a long list of office stereotypes – and specifically female stereotypes based on women in the workplace.
In honour of Mother’s Day this month, let’s take a more critical lens to the so-called office mom who, as The Wall Street Journal notes, may not even necessarily be an actual mother. Despite that, however, every office mom out there earned that title by embodying all the wonderful characteristics associated with motherliness: compassion, attention, and affection. She’s the warm ray of sunshine in an otherwise cold corporate slough. So what’s wrong with that? As female stereotypes go, especially surrounding women in the workplace, is that not a welcome foil to the high-powered “wicked witch”? Or, like the wicked witch, is the office mom simply today’s version of a Shakespearean archetype, plodding through the same tired plot in which all powerful women are definitively evil, and all good women are innately weak?
To celebrate Administrative Professionals Week – not to mention Administrative Professionals Day on April 24th – we’re shining a spotlight on the role of the administrative assistant and how it has evolved from the stereotypical secretary – the exclusively female, coffee-fetching eye-candy – to the respected, relied-upon cornerstone of any organization’s daily operations whose tasks range from office management to event planning to presentation creation, whose boss, like them, may be a male or a female, and whose colleagues account for 476,000 of Canada’s workforce. Read more