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Policy on women in chemical engineering.

The CSCHE as a national society of chemical engineers believes that: women are an integral part of the future of engineering science in Canada, and are a resource that is currently under utilized. Statistics show declining enrolment of students in science and engineering (see Figure 1). Women make up less than 25% of the students in this area, and within industry and academia represent as little as 0% of the technical professional staff, and are typically 3% of this labour segment.

The staggering part of this data is that the situation does not appear to be changing, even though many women are entering the work force in science and engineering. For a variety of reasons, they do not remain in their chosen field. Figures show that the number of women entering the chemical engineering force is twice the number of women remaining after 10 years (see Figure 2).

In order to facilitate change of the situation facing chemical engineering in Canada, the CSCHE has some recommendations to make. Many of these recommendations will encourage increased interest and participation in science by both men and women, and for this the CSCHE is very glad. However, for the purpose of this document, the focus has been restricted to women.


1 a) That the government and industry continue to support the encouragement of women in technical roles by helping to fund programs designed to recruit women into science and engineering from high school or to encourage interest at an early stage. Programmes such as PAIRS, KEY (Knowledge of the Environment for Youth), Engineering Weeks, science summer schools, etc., introduce children at an early age to science in a manner that generates interest and enthusiasm. In terms of science, summer camp universities such as Queen's and Western offer Science Quest and Discovery Western as a forum for children to experience science in an exciting and fun-filled way. The KEY programme promotes a balanced view of science and technology and its impact on the environment to young adults.

1 b) That academia encourage women to develop interest in science and technology throughout primary, intermediate and secondary school stages.

2) That provincial government legislate that math and science be taken through to grade 12 without exception to qualify for a high-school diploma.

3) That government and industry increase the availability and amount of funds available to allow women to enter university in the field of engineering science. This is not intended to discriminate against men but to address inequities.

Scholarships exist for which 50% of the candidates must be women. Since the ratio of men to women applying is currently 10:1, the inequity is addressed by applying a quota. A similar quota applied to available engineering spaces could raise the profile of women in engineering by increasing the number of women entering the field. In all cases, these women would need to meet all entrance and academic requirements.

In the longer term, when the average percentage of women in the technical field rises above 30%, these restrictions would maintain the balance.

4) That government continue to scrutinize the equity of pay and opportunity for women in technical roles.

5) That government adopt measures to encourage employers to set up progressive programmes to enable the combination of family and career. These measures may include tax incentives or joint ventures to set up day care or legislation concerning flexible hours and leaves.

6) That industry create workable options to allow for combined parenting and career such as:

a) day care (at cost) from infants to school age.

b) extended leaves of absence up to two years with a contractual guarantee of a job upon return.

c) part-time work for technical professionals in appropriate roles.

Implementation of these policies will result in an increased pool of scientists (including women) for industry to use, a more science-literate society, and a fair system to enable women to combine the pursuit of technical excellence with the creation of children who will become the leaders of tomorrow.


1. Research Policy and Planning Division Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, Trends: The Canadian University in Profile', Ottawa (1990).

2. Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario,'Making Up The Difference: Ontario Women in Engineering', (November, 1989).

3. Dimensions Magazine, (September 1990).

4. Statistics Canada Universities: Enrollment and Degrees' (1988).

5. Compendium of University Statistics (1988).
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Title Annotation:Canadian policies
Publication:Canadian Chemical News
Date:Jun 1, 1991
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