Women executives still see many barriers to corporate success

Yvonne Zacharias, Vancouver Sun

The findings of a new national study showing the vast majority of female executives believe the glass ceiling is still very much in place in Canada come as no surprise to Janet Austin, CEO of the Vancouver YWCA.

She cited Statistics Canada numbers indicating the gender gap perceived by the majority of 500 female executives polled by Ipsos Reid from June 18 to 25 this year is grounded in reality….

Austin said that if Canada were to do only one thing to equalize the workplace for men and women, it would be to create a universal, high-quality child care system.

She pointed out that Quebec has done this to a large degree and the province has reaped the benefits. The Ipsos Reid survey showed Quebec respondents generally feel there is less of a divide between men and women in terms of gender equality in the workforce than those in other parts of the country. Austin said women still provide on average about an hour-and-a-half more per day in child care, housework and elder care than men.

“Until we address the fundamental imbalance in unpaid care, we will always be struggling with the situation,” she said.

She feels the workplace imbalance, and the home and society conditions that tend to lead to it, should be addressed for all sorts of reasons, not the least of which is a predicted looming shortage of skilled workers. Women tend to be underemployed.

Also, women in Canada are generally better educated than men. “We’re actually paying for that education and yet we are creating the conditions where we make it difficult for those women to use that education,” Austin said….

There may be a general impression that women have come a long way in the workforce but the reality suggests otherwise…