New report shows many women don't feel on par with men in the workplace

Maureen Coulter
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Jennifer Slemmer, instructor of the bioscience technology program at Holland College, didn't think she would end up in the science and technology industry. She switched gears in university after taking a psychology course that changed her life.

Canadian women feel they are being unfairly held back

Canadian women feel they are being unfairly held back because their employers worry about their family commitments.

The 2015 Women Shaping Business Study by Randstad Canada showed that the 1,005 Canadian working women surveyed felt there were still gender inequalities in the workplace.

Nearly three-quarters of Canadian women are working in roles below the management level, according to the report. And almost 50 per cent of those surveyed felt the single biggest factor for them not moving up to senior roles was because their employer feared their absence due to family obligations.

"I think we have closed the gap a little bit, but not as much," said Faith Tull, senior vice-president of human resources at Ranstad Canada. "There is still the perception that if you are a woman, you are going to have these pulls that will take you away from the work."

Tull noted that inequality is still out there even as more men are taking parental and child-care leave.

"Women should not be painted with the brush that they cannot be committed because they have all these things to do. We all have these things to do."

Another key finding in the survey shows only five per cent of women in the workforce are employed in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) field.

When participants were asked, 44 per cent felt the No. 1 barrier that prevented them from choosing a career in STEM is the stereotype that it's a male-centric field. The five per cent of women who do work in the field also felt this way the case and voted higher at 57 per cent.

"While they have the skills qualifications and they want to get in, the barrier remains that there is some stereotypes that they need to overcome," said Tull.

About 27 per cent said they would have pursued something in the STEM field if they had the right support or guidance.

Jennifer Slemmer, instructor with the bioscience technology program at Holland College, is one of those women in the field. She said that while there are many more women graduating from programs in the sciences, those numbers don't translate into upper management levels.

Last year's graduating class of the program at Holland College consisted of 14 women and one man.

"The proportion definitely doesn't carry through," said Slemmer. "When you are thinking about why are those women not moving forward, I think sometimes they just really want a job."

Slemmer said within the teaching faculty at Holland College she doesn't feel undervalued because of her gender but she feels this is something that happens commonly for women who are in a lower entry-level position in the field.

Slemmer said women are often expected to be three times better than their male colleagues.

"If you perform equally, somehow you are still viewed as less. In order to be viewed equally, you are putting in more work."

Tull said companies need to better integrate responsibilities with work and home life for all workers. She says companies should offer options, like the flexibility to work from home by telecommuting.

Some things women in the survey said that kind of flexibility would help make senior positions more attainable. They would also like to receive more support from male colleagues or managers, have a better work-life balance or flexible work arrangements and have more female leaders demand equal opportunity for promotions within an organization.

To view the full survey results, visit and follow the links.

Organizations: Holland College, Randstad Canada, Ranstad Canada

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Recent comments

  • de udder guy
    December 17, 2015 - 07:21

    "Slemmer said women are often expected to be three times better than their male colleagues." One of the reasons these issues are never taken seriously is the use of ridiculous quotes like the one above. I don't know of anyone who expects a female co-worker to be 3 times better than a male. Females have outpaced men for some time in areas of science and law, and in many areas the co-hort that is falling behind is young boys, not girls. And in low-income families boys are falling even further behind.

  • Observer
    December 15, 2015 - 07:59

    My friend is a recently divorced woman with 5 daughters. She has always been a hard worker, putting in MANY more hours than she was paid for. She was offered a new job as an office manager for a company that builds new houses. The (male) owner's comment to her: "I hope you don't get distracted by your children". She turned down the position and now has a much better job. There is still a lot of gender bias - and downright idiocy - in the workplace...

  • Tim
    December 15, 2015 - 07:29

    I'm a male yet I'm not a Manager yet. AM I being unfairly treated?

  • Quiet Observer
    December 14, 2015 - 10:56

    i think the circumstances of women being paid less than men for doing the exact same work are not as great as some would like to portray it to be. Situations such as government jobs, educational institution jobs, jobs in a unionized environment and jobs in large corporations would not support this. However, I am sure it still does exist in many work situations, but not as it once did, but these are the ones we are hearing about. However, what we do not hear about is work places, such as the federal government, where women are given a first priority over men, regardless of qualifications and suitability for the job. This is also very commonplace. Discrimination against (or preference for) either sex is wrong. I have said for many years that we need an Advisory Council on the Status of Men. This Council would not work in competition with the Advisory Council on the Status of Women but in cooperation with it to eliminate all sexual discrimination in all facets of life, not just the workplace.

  • been there, done that
    December 14, 2015 - 05:47

    The problem with this article is that it states "women don't feel as if." The FACT is, the majority are not compensated on par, regardless of how anyone "feels" - the data is there. If you have a man and a woman doing the exact same job chances are, the woman makes less. Additionally, there is no consideration given to women who take time away from the workforce to raise children. A woman stays at home for a period of time and returns to the workforce with a smaller, if any pension, lower wage, and fewer opportunities. All women should be given the option without losing value in the workplace.

    • JJT
      December 14, 2015 - 10:39

      Where is the data you are referring to? I'd like to see it.

    • MAx Roe
      December 14, 2015 - 12:27

      As an employer, I am very interested in discovering how I can hire a female and pay her less than a male for the same work. I will hire all females if I can reduce my payroll costs as you suggest. Additionally, provincial and federal legislation prohibit me from employment discrimination based on a number of criteria including gender. If one factors the total hours worked into the oft claimed wage gap calculation there is no statistical difference. If the goal is equality of opportunity, and not equality of numbers, then a blind interview system should be used. No indication of gender, race, etc. To hire based on any criteria other than merit is absolutely wrong.

  • Ken
    December 13, 2015 - 20:41

    I had an interview for a position with 5 openings a few years ago. I spoke with a woman later on that was on the HR committee reviewing resumes but not the interview committee. The committee said we have to increase the female presence at their organization. I was told 57 applicants, 9 females and 48 males. They interviewed all 9 females and 6 males, 15 out of 57 for FIVE openings. A three interviewers were female, did the interviewing and it was 5 females that got hired. She told me that two of them did not have the qualifications and while she agreed with equal gender opportunities (as I do as well), female should not be priority. The two poor ones got fired and another did not stay beyond 6 months due to it being considered a poor fit. They readvertised the positions. Same woman kept me in the loop. She said 41 applicants this time, 37 males and just 4 females. 10 interviews, all 4 females and 6 males, 3/4 females were hired. ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!!!! Gender equality goes both ways. I believe women deserve every opportunity possible if they are eligible and qualified, but this scenario just seems beyond poor to me. Twice I went for an interview. I'm not saying in both circumstances I should have been hired, but that scenario just looks terrible and to be told a few hires were poor applicants doesn't sit well with me when I have worked hard to get an opportunity. Sexist exists both ways!!! That woman thankfully has retired as she didn;t feel comfortable.

  • RG
    December 13, 2015 - 19:56

    So they say employers don't hire them because they fear absences and then they say they want a better work-life balance and flexible hours. Maybe the reason they don't get hired has nothing to do with gender and more to do with their requirements. If you have a choice between hiring two candidates who are both equally qualified and one is willing to work the required hours and the other needs the employer to adjust the schedule based on their needs, the choice is simple.

  • Joe Doe
    December 13, 2015 - 19:25