Is there still a glass ceiling for women in Canada?

Is there still a glass ceiling for women in Canada’s workforce? According to the findings of the recent Women in Leadership survey of 500 female managers and executives, conducted by Ipsos-Reid on behalf of Randstad Canada, there are still many obstacles that women need to overcome in the workplace when striving to reach managerial and executive ranks.

Balance is seen as a top obstacle, with three in five (60 percent) women citing managing work and family as the most challenging hurdle. Outdated perceptions of women in managerial and executive roles (51 percent), limited opportunities in the Canadian market (50 percent) and lack of female mentors and training (49 percent) remain difficult factors, according to the survey.

While the balancing act is the most challenging, most women (91 percent) say they have been able to effectively balance family and work. Almost half (43 percent) say it’s easier to manage the balance today than it was five years ago, though another 28 percent say it’s more difficult to strike the balance now.

The survey results indicate that many Canadian women in managerial and executive roles continue to see a very real divide in the way men and women are compensated and rewarded when reaching the senior ranks. According to polling, more than three in four (77 percent) felt there remained a moderate or large divide between the salaries women can expect for performing the same roles as men, with Ontarians (83 percent) feeling it most strongly in their market. Further, more than nine in ten (92 percent) women surveyed felt there was at least some discrepancy between men and women in terms of opportunities for promotions, while 70 percent felt men are more likely to be given the opportunity to make important decisions than women. Sixty-nine per cent of those polled also felt that men more frequently receive the best jobs and projects when compared to women in similar roles.

However, there have been positive changes made in the past five years to encourage more parity between men and women. According to those polled, the biggest change in the past five years is that there are more women leaders seen demanding equal opportunity for promotions within organizations (28 percent), followed by better work-life balance and flexible working arrangements (16 percent) and more opportunities (12 percent).

In fact, more than half of those polled (51 percent) expect to see more women in managerial and executive roles in five years compared to today – with only three per cent feeling there will be less in the future. Healthcare (58 percent) and education (52 percent) are the two industries in which those polled felt there would be the greatest opportunity for women to move into managerial and executive positions over the next three years, followed by not-for-profit (35 percent), financial services (32 percent) and hospitality (29 percent). Industries that have traditionally been seen as more male dominated, such as Engineering and Construction (6 percent), Transportation and Logistics (2 percent) and Manufacturing (1 percent) were seen as providing much less opportunity for women to move into senior roles in the coming years.