Algonquin College and La Cité collégiale female students encouraged to enter careers in sciences, technology, engineering and math

Women’s History Month panel celebrates the contribution and potential of women in the labour market

October 28, 2016                   Ottawa, Ontario                    Employment and Social Development Canada

The Honourable MaryAnn Mihychuk, Minister of Employment, Workplace Development and Labour, at a panel discussion at Algonquin College’s Student Commons, today invited female students to take advantage of careers in high-demand occupations in which they are traditionally under-represented.

Speaking as Women’s History Month winds down for 2016, the Minister acknowledged the contributions and progress women have made in the labour market, but also noted that women are underpaid and more likely to hold precarious and part-time jobs. She encouraged female students to consider careers in high-demand fields requiring education and knowledge of sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics, where women currently represent only 22 percent of the workforce. Canada otherwise risks being left behind as the country faces shortages of qualified workers.

Minister Mihychuk also underscored how the Government of Canada is supporting Canadian women in the workplace by bringing forward proactive pay equity legislation, taking action to address specific barriers that affect women’s participation in the labour market, supporting enhanced resources for childcare, giving women the right to request flexible work arrangements under the Canada Labour Code, and dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace.

Today’s panel was moderated by Kathryn Reilander, Professor and Coordinator of the Electrical Engineering program at Algonquin College. Panelists included: Cheryl Jensen, President of Algonquin College; Nathalie Méthot, Manager of the Bureau de la recherche et de l’innovation at La Cité collégiale; Joan Bailey, student in the Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning program at Algonquin College; and Crystal Michaud, entrepreneur and graduate from the School of Hospitality and Tourism at Algonquin College.


Women have made great contributions to the growth of our country and the prosperity we enjoy. Women’s History Month is an opportunity to recognize and celebrate those contributions, celebrate the women who are making history today and highlight career opportunities for women. As this year’s Women’s History Month draws to a close, let us resolve to continue to make history through our determination to overcome barriers in the job market and in all aspects of society.”
The Honourable MaryAnn Mihychuk, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour

“As someone who has worked in a male-dominated field, I am a great supporter of women who choose to defy society’s expectations about women in the workforce. We have female students who are successful in technology, trades, science, business and beyond. We tell these young women, and I believe it wholeheartedly, that there are no limits to what they can achieve.”
Cheryl Jensen, President of Algonquin College (first female president of the College)

 “I worked for more than 20 years in a job that picked me. When I went back to school to learn a trade, I reinvented my career and myself, and I’m much happier for it.”
Joan Bailey, student in the Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Technician program at Algonquin College

Quick Facts

  • In 1901, women made up just 13 percent of the labour force, compared to 23 percent in the 1950s and almost haft of the Canadian workforce today.
  • From 1997 to 2015, the proportion of women aged 25 to 54 who had a university degree almost doubled in Canada, increasing from 18 percent to 35 percent.
  • In 2011, despite being 38 percent of graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), women represented 22 percent of Canadians working in STEM fields.           
  • In 1997, women in STEM were paid 15 percent less than men. Today, they are paid 7.5 percent less.
  • In 1987, 20 percent of the STEM workforce was women.
  • According to the Science, Technology and Innovation Council’s State of the Nation 2014 report, women were 32.9 percent of STEM PhD graduates in 2012, significantly lower than other leading countries, such as the UK (49 percent) and the U.S. (46 percent).

Associated Links

Canada’s Innovation Agenda
Statistics Canada: The Canada–US gap in women’s labour market participation, 1997 to 2015
Statistics Canada: The surge of women in the workforce

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Carlene Variyan
Director of Communications
Office of the Honourable MaryAnn Mihychuk, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour

Media Relations Office
Employment and Social Development Canada
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