Breaking Barriers: Hopes and aspirations for women in Canada's engineering sector
Published June 8, 2023.
Estimated reading time: 3.5 minutes
- According to Engineers Canada, women account for only around 13 per cent of licensed engineers in the country.
- Immigrant and internationally-educated women face unique challenges in their pursuit of engineering careers in Canada.
- Aecon Group’s Prabh Banga shares her hopes and aspirations for internationally-trained women in engineering to overcome these barriers.
“As the daughter of immigrant parents, I did not have the same connections and networks as others did so my first hope is for internationally-trained women in engineering to get access to networking opportunities and see their credentials recognized.”
– Prabh K. Banga, Vice-President, Sustainability, Aecon Group Inc.
Prabh Banga’s sustainability journey – and indirectly, her career in engineering – began as a young child when she discovered her passion for nature while watching the classic animated family film, Ferngully: The Last Rainforest, which she recommends (to adults and kids) to this day.
Banga is the child of immigrant parents and comes from a family of farmers. Her family’s agricultural heritage inspired her interest in sustainability. As a child, she would listen to her grandparents talk about the interconnectedness of nature, its ecosystems and our food production systems. These stories led to her environmental passion and interest in building a more sustainable world.
Today, Banga serves as Vice-President, Sustainability at Aecon Group Inc., a Canadian construction and infrastructure development company with global experience, recognized as one of the Best 50 Corporate Citizens in Canada. Banga leads the development and delivery of Aecon’s sustainability strategy. Her key responsibilities include integration of environmental, social and governance (ESG), identifying future trends, tracking emerging technologies, and operationalizing sustainability into day-to-day practices.
Prabh Banga (pictured), Vice President, Sustainability at Aecon Group Inc. shares her hopes and aspirations for women in Canada’s engineering field.
Banga is also passionate about supporting women to succeed in Canada’s engineering sector.
That sector is a thriving industry that offers countless career opportunities for individuals with a passion for innovation and problem-solving. However, despite progress in promoting gender equality and diversity in the workplace, women in Canadian engineering, particularly immigrant and internationally-educated women, continue to face barriers that hinder their earning potential, networking opportunities and impede career advancement. In this blog article, Windmill Microlending spoke with Banga about her hopes and aspirations for women in Canada’s engineering field.
While the engineering sector in Canada boasts a diverse range of career options, the underrepresentation of women remains a pressing issue. According to Engineers Canada, women account for only around 13 per cent of licensed engineers in the country. This disparity can be attributed to various barriers, including systemic biases, lack of representation, and unconscious gender stereotypes that persist within the industry. These obstacles not only impact the earning potential of women in engineering but also hinder their ability to access leadership positions and contribute to decision-making processes.
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Immigrant and internationally-educated women face unique challenges in their pursuit of engineering careers in Canada. These talented individuals bring valuable skills and knowledge from their home countries, yet encounter barriers such as difficulties in obtaining recognition of their credentials and lack of familiarity with Canadian workplace culture. The Engineering Labour Market in Canada study conducted by Engineers Canada found that immigrant women engineers face additional hurdles related to language proficiency, cultural integration, and building professional networks. Addressing these barriers is essential to harness the full potential of immigrant and internationally-educated women in Canada's engineering sector.
Banga tells Windmill that her hopes and aspirations for women in Canada’s engineering field revolve around overcoming many of these barriers. They include:
Gain access to networking opportunities and credentials recognized
Prabh Banga (PB) says: As the daughter of immigrant parents, I did not have the same connections and networks as others did so my first hope is for internationally-trained women in engineering to get access to networking opportunities and see their credentials recognized. Many internationally-educated women in engineering arrive in Canada and see their experience and credentials undervalued by Canadian employers. This needs to change. These engineers bring great value to Canadian engineering firms and their experience needs to be recognized. They should be leveraged to build up Canadian innovation and sustainability.
WATCH: Prabh Banga’s offers her hopes for internationally-educated women in Canada’s engineering field.
Fair compensation for women in engineering
PB says: During university, when I was doing a co-op position, I found out that a male student was getting paid more than me for the same position and same experience, so my second hope is for all women in engineering to get fairly compensated. Data continues to show women lag behind their male counterparts in STEM wages in Canada. This is particularly true for under-represented groups of women. This needs to change and women in engineering need to be paid for the value they bring and nothing less.
Pursue your fullest potential in engineering
PB says: Despite the barriers under-represented and equity-seeking women face in the Canadian engineering field, the opportunities can be hugely rewarding. It is important to continue pursuing professional growth opportunities, pushing to learn, rise and succeed. You have so much to offer and should not be held back by antiquated biases. This can only happen if women continue to pursue engineering education and career opportunities, and Canadian employers make commitments to give skilled and talented women engineers the opportunities to thrive.
While challenges persist, the increasing representation of women in Canada's engineering sector demonstrates positive progress toward a more equitable and diverse workforce. By addressing the barriers faced by women, particularly immigrant and internationally-educated women, Canada can harness their unique talents and experiences, leading to greater innovation and success. Fostering inclusivity, promoting mentorship, and creating supportive environments are essential steps toward achieving gender parity and unlocking the full potential of women in Canada's engineering industry.
Banga hopes this progress continues for all women in engineering, across the country, enabling them to rise to their full potential, while benefiting Canada’s economy, building a more sustainable future and strengthening our global competitiveness.
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