Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck:
senators, my question is directed to the Leader of the
Government in the Senate. Last week, the Finance Minister
released this government's budget, which included science,
technology and research. Yesterday, we celebrated
International Women's Day. Across our nation, there exists a
major gender gap between men and women in the science,
engineering and technology fields. This gap not only
excludes women from achieving economic and social
independence but is detrimental to a diverse work
environment in these critical fields of innovation.
and scientists in both the private and public sectors, as
well as full-time tenured professors in said fields, are
still predominantly male. In many European countries, women
account for nearly 40 per cent of active scientists — almost
parity — while in Canada women account for 20 per cent of
active scientists. Canada is lagging behind the world not
only in science innovation but also in the advancement of
women in science.
government has made significant budget commitments in
science and technology for the upcoming years with regard to
fostering greater research capabilities, can the Leader of
the Government in the Senate tell this house if the
government has any concrete plans to help women scientists
overcome persistent barriers and encourage their
participation in science, engineering and technology
research, or will women once again be ignored in these
non-traditional science and technology fields?
LeBreton (Leader of the Government):
I thank the honourable senator for the question, which is
similar to the question she asked previously.
honourable senator pointed out, the government has made
significant contributions to science and technology. The
government believes in the full participation of women in
Canada's economic, social and democratic life.
referred to the sciences. The situation with regard to
various post-secondary education institutions attracting
women into their science programs is perhaps not what we
would like to see. Having said that, I think Senator Dyck
will agree that there has been vast improvement in this
area. One need only look at the enrolment in the various
university medical schools to see that there are many women
now entering scientific and medical fields.
has provided an incredible sum of money for science and
technology. I am pleased that the reports on the budget from
our universities and other post-secondary education
institutions and the scientific community have been
universally positive. Of course, it is to be hoped that the
various universities and the various provincial governments,
who are primarily responsible for education, will do
everything possible to put forward initiatives to attract
more women into the sciences, which I believe is happening.
As we have
discussed, women have a wide range of career choices. We
hope that they will consider the sciences as a career choice
and that universities and other post-secondary education
institutions will provide programs that will attract and
keep women involved in their various science programs.