It’s early Friday morning and my husband runs across the street to grab a Globe and Mail newspaper. Firstly, yes, he’s a millennial who pays for an actual printed version of a newspaper on a regular basis. And yes, I’m just as astounded as you are. But this is where things get interesting and this is why I decided to write this piece. As he begins reading the front page headline, he says aloud in a mocking tone, “You can’t be what you can’t see: Women in STEM on how to close the gender gap”. First, I need to establish that my husband isn’t mocking the idea of women working in STEM (Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), he’s mocking the idea that our existence is front-page-news-worthy and the fact that any mention of this only happens on days like International Women’s Day or Equal Pay Day.
As a society, we’ve become pretty desensitized to messages just like this headline. Why? Messages that are perfectly true and have immense importance have become diluted between messages that are all too often only remembered on what I like to call, ‘social media holidays’. Days like International Women’s Day, World Autism Awareness Day, even Mother’s Day have become a convenient opportunity to celebrate each other for a superficial moment, and simply scroll on.
The Globe and Mail article reminds us that ‘women account for only 28 percent of Canadians aged 25 – 64 who work in scientific occupations’. Looking deeper into these numbers, Black, Latinx, and Indigenous women make up a very small portion of that 28 percent. My husband is well aware of my professional history. He’s heard the stories about my being the only woman at a board table in the past or the only Black woman in the building. So what can we do?
1. Arm Yourself with the Facts
Acknowledge the imbalance not only between the sexes but amongst those who identify as women as well. The gender wage gap for every $1 that white men made in 2018 resulted in Asian women earning .87c, White women .79c, Black women .63c, Indigenous women .57c and Latinx women .54c.
2. Engage in Difficult and Necessary Conversations
Sharing on social media is an incredible way to start bringing attention to these facts. This year our team produced a video featuring some of our staff explaining the notions they were told about feminity as they grew up, and what they wish they could go back and tell their 13-year-old selves.
Check out Amanda’s post on #BalanceForBetter on International Women’s Day
3. Make Everyday Efforts
As our founder Randy Cass pointed out, it goes beyond one single day.
“Our goal in the long term is to get much closer to that 50/50 [gender representation] split. And then our vision in the long term is to maintain it and to have the company reflect the country that we’re a part of [by having] gender diversity, sexual identity diversity, have ethnic diversity throughout the entire country.
Not because it’s just the right right thing to do, but because it’s actually going to make us a better company as a whole to have diverse opinions, and diverse experiences in life and diverse needs and thoughts and desires going forward. It’s something that is going to make Nest Wealth a better company not just on this one day when everybody is turning their attention to women in the workplace and women in the world… but it’s on an ongoing basis of who are.”
4. Empower Women, Pay Women
Finally, it’s absolutely paramount that when we, whether as men, women or whatever an individual identifies as, have the opportunity to take up space in an environment where there is a clear imbalance – pull someone else up with us. Empower the voices around us and invite others once we get a seat at the table.