FILE - Tina Strehlke, CEO, Minerva BC (right) Launi Skinner CEO, First West Credit Union at the signing of the document promoting gender parity. (Submitted photo)

OPINION: Steps taken in right direct, still a long way to go for gender equality

A column from Minerva BC CEO Tina Strehlke

As Canada observes the second annual Gender Equality Week, it is both an opportunity to celebrate progress made, while acknowledging there remain significant gaps in achieving gender parity. The glass ceiling might have cracks in it, but it’s far from broken.

On a positive note, the number of women in the workforce has doubled in the last 40 years. More women in the workforce means that we are generating a larger portion of household income than ever before.

So, while in 1976 it was normal to expect that mom and daughter would rarely contribute financially to the family unit, today women form not only an important part of the family economic engine, but increasingly, women are earning half—sometimes more—of a family’s income.

Women’s gendered role as the bearer of children is evolving as well. In 1976, women could expect to have their first child—if not second or third—by age 24. But now, women are more likely to delay having children to pursue education or employment opportunities, meaning the average Canadian woman’s pregnancy is now taking place at age 29.

READ MORE: Extra weeks of parental leave now available across Canada

Traditional roles also continue to evolve when it comes to child rearing, especially parental leave. At the turn of this century, only 3 per cent of fathers took paternity leave; but now, nearly 30 per cent said they would take advantage of it.

These are all indicators of positive change for women in Canada. But focussing solely on the progress would be turning a blind eye to the chasms that still exist.

As prominent figures like Melinda Gates reminded Americans last month, it will take 208 years for the United States to achieve gender equality, according to a 2018 World Economic Forum (WEF) report. For Canadian women, the number is far less — and still staggering: it will take 122 years at the current rate of progress.

READ MORE: France takes torch passed by Canada, will focus on gender equality at G7 summit

Canada, ranked 16th overall by the report, punches well-below its weight in several categories such as like political empowerment. Despite having an equal number of male and female cabinet ministers, Canada ranks 52nd in the world with respect to the number of women in parliament, behind countries like Sweden, Slovenia and Namibia.

There is also much room for improvement in a critical category: equal pay. Depending on how it’s measured, women earn between 69 and 87 cents on the dollar, for similar work, compared to men in Canada. Which is why the WEF report ranked Canada 50th overall, trailing countries like Nicaragua, Iceland, and the United Kingdom.

Here in B.C., women continue to be underrepresented in senior management positions and on boards of directors. This November, Minerva will be releasing our fifth annual scorecard, grading the top 100 B.C. businesses by revenue on gender equality at the leadership level. While we’re hopeful the report will illustrate that progress has been made, it will likely be yet another example of just how far we have to go.

Tina Strehlke

CEO of Minerva BC

READ MORE: Hatred of women creeping into public debate, Trudeau tells equality conference

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dozens brave cold for third annual Polar Bear Plunge for Special Olympics

Organizers have raised more than $40,000 as of Feb. 16

Central Saanich newspaper carrier gets letter of thanks, chocolates from her community for note

Ava Verscheure started her first very job by introducing herself to residents along newspaper route

HarbourCats team up with Bastion Books to bring back Harvey’s Reading Club

HarbourCats and Bastions Books offer students free game tickets in an effort to promote child literacy

UPDATE: Power restored to more than 1,500 Sidney residents Sunday morning

BC Hydro customers without power for three hours on Feb. 16

Habitat for Humanity seeks applicants for 11 new homes on the Saanich Peninsula

Successful applicants will help build their new homes and receive an affordable mortgage

VIDEO: Minister reports ‘modest progress’ after blockade talks with First Nation

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say Coastal GasLink does not have authority to go through their lands

#FoxForFiver: Support grows in B.C. to put Terry Fox on new $5 bill

Terry Fox’ Marathon of Hope raised money for cancer research

Trudeau confers with cabinet ministers as rail blockades continue

The Trudeau government has been criticized for not doing more to end the blockades

Canadian nurses’ unions warn national standards for coronavirus protection too low

President says safety protocols nationwide are inadequate compared to those in Ontario and other countries

Murder of sex worker exposes Canada’s hypocrisy on prostitution: advocate

A 2014 law made purchasing sex or benefiting from the selling of sex illegal

Wet’suwet’en return to northern B.C. forest road pipeline workers move through: First Nation

Opponents of a pipeline who support the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have reoccupied camps at centre of arrests

Over a dozen birds found mysteriously dead on rural B.C road

Ministry of Agriculture notified of the strange occurrence on No. 4 Road in Abbotsford

B.C. men arrested after theft of heavy equipment leads to highway blockade

One man surrendered to police while the other was taken into custody the next morning, RCMP say

Most Read