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)

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

Firefighters respond to a fire on Heatherly Road in Colwood Jan. 19. (Photo courtesy of View Royal Fire Rescue)
Two people escape injury in Colwood house fire

Heatherly Road fire started on a covered porch

December and January, so far, have seen their share of rain. (Black Press Media file photo)
Potential for snow in Greater Victoria after unusually wet December, January

Winter is on the way, says Environment and Climate Change Canada

Victoria police say the number of business break and enters in the city has been rising for the last four months. (Twitter/VicPD)
Business break and enters on the rise in Victoria

Sophisticated techniques used to defeat alarm systems, police say

A female prisoner sent Langford police officers a thank-you card after she spent days in their custody. (Twitter/West Shore RCMP)
Woman gives Victoria-area jail 4.5-star review in handwritten card to police after arrest

‘We don’t often get thank you cards from people who stay with us, but this was sure nice to see’: RCMP

Rendering offers an overhead view of proposed tiny home community using repurposed shipping containers in the Caledonia/Vancouver street parking lot next to Royal Athletic Park. Council voted to allow Aryze Developments apply for a temporary use permit as part of the project. (Courtesy Aryze Developments)
Anonymous donor boosts shipping container housing project in Victoria

Donor promises to match further donations until $500,000 goal is met

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. turns to second doses of COVID-19 vaccine as supplies slow

Pfizer shipments down until February, to be made up in March

B.C.’s Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training announced funding to train community mental health workers at four B.C. post-secondary institutions. (Stock photo)
B.C. funding training of mental health workers at four post-secondary institutions

Provincial government says pandemic has intensified need for mental health supports

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
No Pfizer vaccines arriving in Canada next week; feds still expect 4M doses by end of March

More cases of U.K. variant, South African variant found in Canada

Health-care workers wait in line at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canadians who have had COVID-19 should still get the vaccine, experts say

Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were found to have a 95 per cent efficacy

An empty Peel and Sainte-Catherine street is shown in Montreal, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Poll finds strong support for COVID-19 curfews despite doubts about effectiveness

The poll suggests 59 per cent remain somewhat or very afraid of contracting COVID-19

Egg producers in B.C. aren’t obligated to reveal their production sites. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)
Officials say there’s not enough Vancouver Island eggs to meet demand

BC Egg Marketing Board doesn’t regulate labelling, supply needed from off-Island

A Courtenay resident labours to remove the snow build-up from around her car in February 2019. The area may see snow throughout the coming weekend. Black Press file photo
Snow, winter might not be done with Vancouver Island quite yet

Flurries, snow and cold temps predicted for the weekend for mid-Island

Most Read