Women and Leadership
Although women account for slightly over 50% of the Canadian population, they remain underrepresented in political and professional leadership roles. Women who face multiple forms of discrimination, such as racism, colonialism, ableism, and homophobia, encounter even greater obstacles to leadership positions.
Women in Leadership By The Numbers
- 6.2%: percentage of women-held board and management spots held by women of colour
- 30%: women are 30% less likely than men to get promoted out of an entry-level job
- 49% of Indigenous women and 55% of Black women reported struggling financially due to unpaid care work, compared to only 34% of white women.
- 75.8% of part-time workers in Canada are women. The top reason women gave for working part-time was a need to care for children. Only 3.3% of men who work part-time cite the same reason
Why is it urgent to support diverse women in leadership?
In order to foster diversity in leadership, we need to broaden our perception of what makes a good leader.
Traditionally there has been a narrow definition of leadership, which influences who is chosen for these roles, and who aspires to take them on. Research indicates that when people think of a leader, they are more likely to picture a man.
Inclusive leadership is collaborative, respects non-traditional ways of leading, embraces diversity and includes the most marginalized voices, shares knowledge and empowers those around them. Inclusive leadership is about “power with” rather than “power over”.
In both political and professional settings, decision-makers can take steps to decolonize leadership. Decolonizing leadership includes addressing traditional perceptions of leaders that are rooted in colonial, white supremacist, capitalist, and patriarchal ideals of power, and becoming more inclusive of alternative leadership models and practices.
In addition, decolonizing leadership involves rethinking rigid leadership requirements that may create unnecessary barriers and developing policies and recruitment processes that value lived experience and non-institutional leadership as indicators of advanced leadership skills.
Unions and Women
Did you know that being unionized boosts women's wages more than it does men's, when both are compared to their non-union counterparts?
Unionized women also experience a much smaller gender pay gap when compared to unionized men. In other words, unions help women overcome the effects of gender discrimination in the workplace. This "union advantage" is even greater for women who are affected by other forms of systemic discrimination.
It is crucial that unions continue to be leaders in promoting diversity in leadership and continue the ongoing work of decolonizing leadership. For example, in 2017, UFCW Canada achieved equal representation of women and men on our national executive board for the first time after delegates adopted a resolution mandating the expansion of women's representation at our 2017 National Convention.
You can read more about Women in Leadership at the Canadian Women’s Foundation here.