September 9th, 2018
Equity Issues Within the Profession
In today’s world there are two very important words ‘equity’ and ‘ethics’. These two words stand for living in a fair society by following certain rules. Unfortunately, our society has not always been fair to everyone including Aboriginals, women, and other minority groups. A discussion and understanding of ethics are crucial to be able to properly address issues that threaten Canadian society and the engineering profession.
Ethics between all people and groups (business, religion etc.) is important. The definition of ethics is “Moral principles that govern a person’s behaviour or the conducting of an activity” (Merriam-Webster dictionary). Ethics is a set of moral principles that help guide a society to a fair, equal, and accepting community. For instance, we follow ethics by not stealing from others, and/or not keying someone’s car in a parking lot, so that society can operate smoothly and peacefully. Similarly, following proper ethics in professional fields is even more important, to support a sustainable economy. In the working world, a strict code of ethics must always be followed. For example, a doctor must ensure that they will diagnose people professionally without question of making a fake diagnosis. The same ethical standards apply to all types of jobs for instance, judges cannot take bribes for bias sentencing and accountants cannot move money around illegally. Like all these professions, engineers must also abide by a very strict code of ethics. An engineer that approves projects using improper material to save time and money is not following standards/ethics. A professional not following certain ethics
can lose their certifications and serve prison time dependent on the level of severity. Overall, without a code ethics, the world in which we live in today would be incomplete and structureless.
The definition of equity is “the quality of being fair and impartial” (Merriam-Webster dictionary). It is common to confuse equality and equity with each other because they are similar in meaning. However, there are a few factors that make the two terms quite different. Equity understands the needs of individuals and distributes the resources fairly, while equality means every individual getting the same amount of resources regardless of personal need. An example of equity is comparing two students at the University of Windsor. Student A was born with a learning disability that causes him/her to process information slower than the average person, while student B was born with normal processing speed. After testing to ensure student A was in fact born with slower processing speeds, the university would then grant student A 50% more time on exams than student B. Equality in this circumstance would have given both students more time regardless of their individual needs. Equity must be taken seriously with the proper precautions to ensure that everyone in today’s society is playing on an even playing field for individual success.
Canada advertises to be a fair and free place for anyone to live; however, there are many issues in our society today that contradict this statement. The Aboriginal people of Canada have been discriminated against for years by both the Canadian government and its citizens. The elementary and secondary schools on the Aboriginal reserves receive substantially
less funding than the schools off the reserves, receiving approximately thirty to fifty percent less according to the Canadian Human Rights Commission. As well, due to funding issues the Aboriginal reserves cannot afford enough social workers in the community, leading to increased mental health issues. This is a serious issue because without adequate funding the Aboriginal children are not given the proper resources they need to ready them for post-secondary education and/or the workforce.
The next issue in Canada’s society involves women. For centuries women have been discriminated against and have not been shown fairness compared to men in Canada. According to Maclean’s article on gender equity by Catherine Mclyntyre, women on average earn eight-thousand dollars less annually than males in similar positions. It is also common for women to miss out on promotions they deserve due to their gender. Many Canadians think that gender equity is no longer a problem, however, according to the Canadian Conference Board Canada is ranked 36th on a global scale for gender equity, behind Nicaragua.
The definition of a visible minority is “persons other than aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). Visible minorities in Canada make up about fifty-one percent of our population according to Statistics Canada, but there are a few issues regarding the equity between visible minorities and non-visible minorities in Canada. A large percentage of the visible minorities in Canada were educated in different countries such as India, Pakistan, or China. It is a common issue in Canada’s society for
these educated visible minorities to be paid less, and not given the same opportunity for advancement even though they have the same education as their peers. Visible minorities are often found starting at a lower level than their co-workers as well, which is found unmotivating. Due to these equity issues Canada loses many of the hardworking and intelligent individuals who have much to give to Canada’s society because they are not treated equally.
Canadians with disabilities are often not treated with the same equity as those living without a disability. Canada has made some great improvements with students living with learning or mental disabilities, by incorporating many programs like the IEP (individual learning plan) and Student Accessibility Services (SAS). The issue of equity with persons with physical disabilities remains at large. This is because many physically handicapped Canadians are often not given the same opportunity throughout their life which causes a lack of confidence and motivation. This is concerning because if someone is living with a disability it does not mean that they shouldn’t be considered a contributing member of society. A way Canada can help Canadians with disabilities is to have more support workers and implement more handicap-friendly infrastructure around the country. In doing this it will implement equitable opportunities for people living with disabilities.
Lastly, sexual minorities according to the dictionary are “Those outside of the mainstream of accepted sexual expression or orientation in a given culture” (Meriam-Webster Dictionary). The equity issues surrounding sexual minorities in Canada is a serious issue that has been overlooked for decades. The sexual minorities of Canada have fought for a long time to
receive the same equity as the people of the heterosexual majority. The sexual minorities have suffered equity by not being given the same opportunities in the work force, due to employers and institutions being anti-homosexual. Consequently, this causes some sexual minorities to lose confidence in the workforce and daily life causes a loss of contributing members in Canada’s society.
The issues discussed about equity in the Canadian society have deep ties within the equity in the profession of Engineering. A major issue within Engineering is the that there are significantly less women than men in this field. The website All Tech considered stats over the past twenty years of Engineering graduates in Canada only about twenty percent have been women. Also, Canada’s percentage of practicing engineers that are female is only eleven percent. We must consider why these statistics exist, and it is because women are not treated fairly (with the same standard of equity) as men within the profession. According to the website STEM, within the profession, women make about a third less than men per year and are expected to work the same number of hours and operate at the same rate of productivity. How is this equitable to make a third of the salary and be expected to do the same work? The answer is simple, it is not fair! This is an issue for which we need to find answers because the rate at which women are dropping out of the engineering profession is increasing at a drastic rate. We need to practice equity in the Engineering field to make it a fair place for both men and women, because the world is growing at a rapid pace which only means we need more intelligent engineers to innovate the world regardless of gender.
Overall, the importance of ethics and having moral principals is so crucial in the professional world and in life. Equity stands for fairness between people, and how even in today’s society so many people are not treated with the equity they deserve. This is a major handicap for our society because so many individuals are not given the chance to reach their potential. In conclusion, the issues involving ethics and equity is a major concern in the engineering profession and without change the engineering industry will get smaller causing less innovation and knowledge.
Chehaiber, Julia. “Women in Engineering.” Engineers Canada, Women Engineers Canada, 19 May 2016, Engineerscanada.ca/diversity/women-in-engineering
Canadian Human Rights Commission. “Report on Equality Rights of Aboriginal People.” Government of Canada, Aboriginals Of Canada, 2013, www.chrc-ccdp.gc.ca/sites/default/files/equality_aboriginal_report.pdf.
Lewis, Tanya. “Women in Engineering Earn 25% Less Than Men.” LiveScience, Purch, 23 Aug. 2013, www.livescience.com/39124-women-engineers-earn-less-than-men.html.
McIntyre, Catherine. “These Are the Key Numbers That Explain the Wage Gap for Women.” Macleans.ca, Macleans, 7 Feb. 2018, www.macleans.ca/society/pay-equity-statistics-canada/.
“ethics.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster. Web. 11 November 2007. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ethic
“Equity.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam Webster. Web. 27 August 2003. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/equity