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By Nina Frampton, Systems Optimization Engineer, Scovan

Each year, we recognize International Women’s Day (IWD), where people around the world gather to celebrate women’s accomplishments and champion gender equality. For the past five years, Scovan has hosted an annual event to honour this occasion, serving as a platform to spotlight achievements and raise awareness about gender bias through shared stories and distinguished keynote speakers. This year’s event featured: Susan Anderson, Senior Vice-President of People Services at Cenovus; Bethanne Slaughter, West Area Vice President of Emerson Automation Solutions; and Kleo Landucci, CEO & President of CrescentView Investments Ltd. They spoke candidly about instances where their gender impacted their professional trajectory, the strategies they used to overcome adversity, and how they succeeded during trying times. The discussions were poignant, highlighting the importance of women seizing opportunities, recognizing their value, and advocating for themselves, as well as the vital role that male allies play in supporting and elevating women. Based on the feedback we received from attendees, we are confident that the speakers’ stories were a valuable source of knowledge and inspiration, and we are grateful for the opportunity to share them.

For those who were unable to attend, we encourage you to view the event recording on Scovan’s YouTube channel:

Scovan’s 2023 IWD Forum centred on the theme ‘Manifest,’ which urges women to lead their lives with purpose and intention and actively pursue their goals. ‘Manifest’ underscores the significance of setting objectives and taking constructive steps toward realizing them. To manifest change, one requires courage, perseverance, and belief in oneself. This theme is especially relevant today as women continue to contend for equal pay, opportunities, and representation in leadership positions. 

Today and every day, we must uncover, recognize, and discuss our experiences to lead the way toward positive change and manifest a better future. 

I recently had a discussion with some of my male colleagues about the iron ring that engineers in Canada typically wear. Most said they refrained from wearing their rings to avoid being judged based on their profession. This prompted me to reflect on my own reasons for wearing mine and led me to realize that it had become a habit formed during my early years as an EIT working on-site in Fort McMurray. While working in the field or the office, I frequently encountered situations where I was mistaken for an administrative assistant based on my gender and requested to fetch coffee and take notes, unlike my male counterparts. The iron ring, therefore, became a tangible representation of my capabilities that allowed me to demonstrate to myself and others that I was equally competent and deserving of a place at the table. It gave me a sense of legitimacy that I lacked without it, primarily because women comprise only 14% of all professional engineers in Alberta. 

In a perfect world, gender-based assumptions and discrimination would not be imposed on women. It is my sincere hope that, with concerted efforts and the passage of time, such biases regarding gender-specific work roles will gradually diminish. I firmly believe that events like International Women’s Day (IWD) and the resulting discussions – both on and offstage – are instrumental in driving this change. These forums remind us all that each of us holds the power to shape a better future. By advocating for our rights, supporting one another, and collaborating towards common goals, we can achieve a world where women are viewed as equals in all facets of life. 

Originally published in Scovan’s IGNITE Vol. 6