Women in Manufacturing Critical to Canada’s Competitiveness

Toronto, March 7, 2017

Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) is launching a Women in Manufacturing Working Group on the eve of International Women’s Day to support, promote and inspire women to pursue careers in manufacturing to grow the domestic skilled labour pool in Canada, that is so desperately needed.

“Our Women in Manufacturing Working Group stems from our Industrie 2030 initiative aimed at doubling manufacturing output by 2030,” noted CME President & CEO Dennis Darby. “Skills and labour shortages rank as the single biggest concern facing Canadian manufacturers today. Roughly 40 per cent of businesses face labour and skills shortages today. Five years from now, close to 60 per cent anticipate such shortages. To build a stronger skilled workforce in Canada, we must engage youth and women in manufacturing.”

In Canada, women account for 47.5 per cent of the labour force but only 28 per cent of the manufacturing workforce. What is even more alarming, there has been no increase in the share of manufacturing jobs held by women over the last 15 years. In comparison, only 5.6 per cent of employed women in Canada have a job in manufacturing compared to 13.1 per cent of all men.

“It’s time to stop accepting women’s role in history of pursuing careers that are ‘traditionally feminine,'” stated Rhonda Barnet, Chair of CME’s National Board of Directors and VP Finance at Steelworks Design. “We need to develop a national strategy that fosters women to study and work in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.”

“We also need to change the perception of manufacturing,” added Darby. “Many Canadians may still believe that a job in manufacturing is one filled with monotonous assembly-line tasks, or one where the work environment is dark, dirty and dangerous. These lingering perspectives bear little resemblance to modern-day innovative and technologically-advanced manufacturing operations. They do, however, deter women from pursuing careers in manufacturing-related fields. We want to change that perspective, and we are committed to work with government at all levels to advance women in manufacturing.”

“Our government recognizes that the skilled trades are the backbone of our province’s economy. My colleagues and I are proud to support more Ontarians – including women and young people – to enter the skilled trades and contribute to a stronger economy. We want to make sure that anyone who wants to pursue a trade can put their skills to work, and help to keep our manufacturing sector at the leading edge,” The Honourable Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario stated in a message to CME’s Women in Manufacturing Working Group members. “I commend Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, and all members of the Women in Manufacturing Working Group, for their vital work in supporting and inspiring women to pursue careers in this key sector of our economy.”

CME’s Women in Manufacturing Working Group, driven by leading manufacturers from across Canada, held their inaugural meeting today in Toronto to discuss the highly skilled workforce with the Honourable Deb Matthews, Deputy Premier of Ontario and Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development, and the Honourable Mitzie Hunter, Minister of Education.

“I commend Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters for taking a leadership ‎role on this important issue of getting more women involved in manufacturing. This initiative demonstrates how the private sector can have a substantive and positive influence on society and our economy. There is no job that a woman cannot do and I’m delighted to see that Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters not only agree, but will promote women’s participation in STEM fields,” The Honourable Deb Matthews, Deputy Premier of Ontario and Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development.

Rhonda Barnet, Chair of the Board, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters: CME National Initiative to Foster and Advance Women in Manufacturing
Message from the Honourable Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario: http://cme-mec.ca/download.php?file=5a00vcvpt.pdf


Since 1871, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters has been helping manufacturers grow at home and, compete around the world. Our focus is to ensure manufacturers are recognized as engines for growth in the economy, with Canada acknowledged as both a global leader and innovator in advanced manufacturing and a global leader in exporting. CME is a member-driven association that directly represents more than 2,500 leading companies who account for an estimated 82 per cent of manufacturing output and 90 per cent of Canada’s exports.


Stefi Proulx
Director of Communications & Branding
Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters
(613) 292-6070