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Equity Issues within the Profession:Why Canada needs affirmative action to combat the diversity deficit within the STEM fieldsAngel MerhebUniversity of Windsor AbstractWithin the STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields in Canada there is an evident lack of diversity and equity within it as many minorities are discouraged from pursuing a job that’s image has been set by society’s standards to be a Caucasian male. Without this range of perspectives, it can inhibit the future of the country as there will be a lack of diversity in innovation and customer base as less customers will be represented. The way to combat this issue is by utilizing affirmative action to increase the number of local engineers, correct history’s mistakes, and create a society where everyone can flourish.Keywords: gender gap, residential schools, discrimination, representation, stereotype, multiculturalismEquity Issues within the Profession:Why Canada needs affirmative action to combat the diversity deficit within the STEM fieldsIn Canada, multiculturalism and dealing with all the differing perspectives and ideas that reside within the country has been a topic of constant discussion. Canada is known to represent so many different cultures that are interested in its many perks like universal healthcare and job opportunities that can make it easier for them to find jobs, this attracts so many individuals from all around the world. Many immigrants and minorities feel a sense of belonging and equality in Canada because of the many established laws and practices like the Multiculturalism Act and the Employment Equity Act, but how far does that sense of belonging stretch? In many areas such as work and studies there are always some sections that have less representation for minorities which is why there are still many communities that feel like it is not enough. Many groups bring to the public’s attention that the Employment Equity Act’s jurisdiction covers only 10 percent of the workforce leaving the rest unaccounted for. The country relies on immigration to help increase its workforce but can be counterproductive in discouraging them to explore areas in science and math and restricting them to less intellectual jobs. Canada and the engineering field is in desperate need of affirmative action as it can correct past wrongdoings it has perpetrated, increase the number of local engineers, and create more diverse innovation that could benefit the country greatly in the long run. An uncomfortable topic for many Canadians is the discussion of the mistreatment of its aboriginal and First Nation communities. Residential schools and continued oppression of these people is an issue that many of the community members still feel the effects of to this day. The government has made some improvement to correct the mistakes of the past with its Path to Reconciliation Act that aims to address the healing process, build rapport, and reconcile the differences between them. Studies have shown that many of the First nation peoples still suffer from low employment rates, inadequate housing, lower income, and higher rates of suicide. The lasting effects of a terrible legacy is still being felt today and although the Path to Reconciliation Act is a great start, many individuals of these communities need to feel the push forward into the post-secondary education scene and even more in areas of STEM as they are severely underrepresented. Since many have to face more hardships than average just to get in a position of applying, affirmative action can ensure that they can feel welcome and given a higher chance of being admitted. Without an extra helping hand it can be very difficult to compete with everyone else that might have not endured such hardships and do not need certain accommodations because in the end, they were not on equal footing. After so many hardships, obstacles, and mistreatment by Canada, it is only fair that the country gives back and supports these and many other minority groups that have been victims of discrimination into a field they want and feel like they belong. To help heal the discrimination faced, Canada needs affirmative action to ensure a stable future and break the abusive cycle perpetrated onto them. When talking about minorities most people tend to forget about women. Women have been shown to be severely underrepresented in fields that rely heavily on mathematics and science and it is definitely not because they are inadequate. The STEM fields are largely dominated by males in many countries including Canada making it a very uncomfortable experience for many aspiring female engineers. Many women have the potential to become great leaders in the fields of math and science but are taught either directly or indirectly by their family or society that they cannot do it as it is a man’s job. This causes them to grow up with a mindset defining that they cannot achieve great things in the fields that take considerable intellect and are better off in work areas that are less demanding like being a secretary or a nurse and working under the more qualified men. This stereotype can be very detrimental to a women’s confidence. It can inhibit a young girl’s potential and drive to be a part of that line of work. Representation can play a large role in supporting people and helping them envision themselves as successful individuals in the field, but sadly, many communities do not have that kind of representation to look up to and to encourage them. Almost every movie that has a role for a scientist is played by a Caucasian male causing many to subconsciously make a link between the two, defining the smart and successful person as only a white male. These can include Doc Brown from the “Back to the Future” trilogy and Indiana Jones from “Indiana Jones”. Individuals may not even realise that they are making the connection and that these movies have a great impact on the career path they choose to go on. If a young Indian girl for instance loves science and wants to be a scientist someday, the lack of women available for being her role model can take a toll on her mind and cause her to doubt her own abilities and competence. If only men dominate the science department how can she ever compete with them and stand alongside them as an equal when everyone else in the world has told her she is less? Throughout the years it has definitely improved and less gender stereotyping and more encouragement for women has taken place like “hErvolution” and the “Society for Canadian Women in Science and Technology” initiatives. This is a very positive movement as it is encouraging many more young girls and women to join and find acceptance in these disciplines and to give them the courage to decrease the jarring gender gap. Since more than half of the population in the world is made up of women, it only makes sense to give them a voice and a means to help solve the problems that they and others like them face. Most men cannot address these concerns and create solutions to these problems as they have a different set of daily obstacles and cannot always relate to and understand women. If there are more women engineers, it means that more problems can be solved, a broader customer range will be achieved, and more representation will take place, creating a more diverse and innovative society. Including women and different minorities into the engineering profession can aid the country greatly because many problems cannot possibly be addressed without diverse perspectives and opinions being represented and having a voice. For example, when developing a health app, a male dominated team can provide many services but forget an important part of biology that males do not have to worry about. This is menstruation. Since men do not have to deal with this, they can easily forget to include it into their “universal” app causing women to feel left out and not be able to use the app in all areas concerning their health. Since an engineer’s job is to help create solutions to problems, how can one small community possibly think of all the problems faced by people that are different from them and have different needs?There are many benefits of taking affirmative action towards creating a more diverse and equitable community, but it can also have many pitfalls. Harvard’s affirmative action strategies gained negative feedback and became labelled as racist in 2014. Its push to try to include and encourage minorities like the Hispanic and native Americans was viewed as being reverse discrimination as more qualified students with higher SAT scores were being rejected based on their race. This gave African Americans and Hispanics more advantages while applying to college. Also, having a quota system in place causes the chosen people to feel like they constantly need to fight to show that they are worthy and deserve to be in the spot they were given. Although it is true that individuals may feel reverse discriminated in times like this, it is also important to embrace affirmative action for the greater good as it increases the amount of Canadian-born engineers so that the country would not be forced to look internationally to fill the labour gaps and solve its own problems, thus creating more opportunities for Canadians. Ultimately, not every community is on equal footing when they start. Many minorities have to go through much more obstacles and hardships than others just to get into a position of applying to either post-secondary institutions or to work, making it less equal. If there is affirmative action in place it gives these struggling communities a better chance, which only leads to it becoming more equal as it compensates for the hardships they have received in the past. Although taking action to combat the inequitable rates of minorities in fields like engineering can have some drawbacks, it can make up for it by creating a better future with more diversity and inclusion making Canada a leader in fields like science. Canada is well known around the world for its multiculturalism and respect for all minorities so living up to these expectations can be difficult. What many people do not see is the amount of inequity when it comes to the engineering fields. Many STEM fields are dominated by Caucasian males leading to less diversity in innovation and a less comfortable space for minorities. To ensure participation of groups like women and the disabled in Canada and in the engineering profession, the country needs to implement affirmative action initiatives to break the glass ceiling and inspire the discouraged groups that are facing discrimination within it. Imposter syndrome can be felt across a range of different minorities in the field of engineering as they continuously feel as though they do not belong, ultimately discouraging them to continue and inhibiting their potential. This syndrome causes the individual to doubt themselves and quit early in the race and sometimes even before they start. That is why this country and many others need to establish initiatives and actions to actively promote minorities in engineering because without them hope for these communities will be fragile and easily breakable. The world should not let itself typecast only one community as the image of an engineer as it inhibits the strong and diverse innovation that comes with having a diverse team.Resources:Joseph, B. (2019, April 26). 8 key issues for Indigenous Peoples in Canada. Retrieved fromhttps://www.ictinc.ca/blog/8-key-issues-for-indigenous-peoples-in-canadaTarazona, Z. (2018, February 5). Affirmative action is essential for equality. Retrieved from https://temple-news.com/affirmative-action-essential-equality/Walden, S. (2016, January 22). These STEM initiatives are inspiring women and girls around the globe. Retrieved from https://mashable.com/2016/01/22/women-in-stem-global/