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Engineering for all: Equity, diversity, and Inclusion

Engineering has historically excluded many people from the profession. As we move forward, it’s important to know that there is a place for you in engineering. Your presence, your unique perspective, your passion, and your willingness to work to better the world are all wanted and needed in the engineering profession. 

Now, more than ever, it is important to strive for an engineering profession that is truly inclusive and welcoming to all people of various backgrounds and social identities. The engineering profession can only better understand and protect the public interest if it is representative of the demographics of the public. In order to accomplish this, the engineering profession must consist of folks who bring their unique skills, lived experience, and knowledge of the world into the profession. The diversity of thought that is needed to contribute to a better engineering profession cannot exist without a diversity of people.

By embracing a broad range of social identities and experiences, we pave the way for design and innovation that considers diverse facets of human need. Equity, diversity, and inclusion is a technical skill, and a must have. Good engineering requires engineering for all, and engineering for all requires people of all social identities and various skillsets to be able to responsibly serve the diverse public, based on their unique needs.

Systemic barriers can influence the nature of one’s journey as they progress along their engineering career paths. Historically and presently, there continue to be barriers for different folks within engineering. More and more, organizations are working to combat exclusion and remove barriers. Engineers Canada has some initiatives such as 30 by 30 that combats gender exclusion in engineering by seeking to increase the representation of women within engineering to 30% by the year 2030, as well as a K-12 collective impact project that is focused on breaking down barriers for women and marginalized groups in STEM and engineering career awareness.

Women in engineering

It’s hard to believe but back in 1992, women represented just under four per cent of professional engineers in Canada. Today, they represent 14.4 per cent. With the 30 by 30 initiative, Engineers Canada has a goal of increasing that number to 30 per cent by 2030.

Of course, numbers alone will not keep women in engineering in the face of other barriers. For that reason, we have also created resources and guidelines to address some of the issues that uniquely affect women in the workplace:

Decolonization in engineering

The engineering profession needs to be transformed at its core. Part of this transformation requires truth telling—acknowledging the injustices that have been perpetuated and continue to be (re)produced through systems and structures that hold up our society.

It is crucial to honor, respect, and embed Indigenous ways of knowing and doing to create more positive solutions for Indigenous communities seeking economic independence, clean drinking water, and sustainable development opportunities on their lands though the engineering profession.

Engineers Canada has established the Indigenous Advisory Committee to support our work on Indigenous access to engineering. We also have created the Guideline on Indigenous Consultation and Engagement as a tool to improve Indigenous consultations as well as a Land Acknowledgement guideline. 

Through this work we aim to foster Truth and Reconciliation within the profession.

Engineering organizations

Furthermore, there are organizations and communities that exist with the purpose of creating brave and safe spaces for folks of various social identities and positionalities in engineering. This is a partial list of resources to check out for supporting yourself throughout your engineering journey:

You have a role to play in ensuring a brighter future of engineering in Canada, because of and not in spite of, your race, gender, class, and abilities. Your resilience, ingenuity, and ability to overcome challenges will contribute to securing a more equitable future for your communities, for Canada, and for the world. We cannot wait to see you realize your potential and to see what your engineering brings in the future as the next generation of engineers.