Dismantling Bias
in Engineering
and Geoscience
If you can dream it,
you can be it;
the possibilities
are limitless.

The first step toward a career in engineering or geoscience is being able to imagine yourself in them.

Yet, for many young women, Black, Indigenous and people of colour who dream of working in the fields, obstacles and barriers to full participation quickly present themselves.
Starting as early as elementary school, stereotypes and social factors impact the options students see for themselves.

Unfortunately, by the time many students reach high school, a critical point where students begin to select pre-requisites for their future path, established biases and stereotypes from teachers, parents, available role models, and the media impact choices.

As students grow, subtle and overt forms of sexism, racism, homophobia and transphobia gradually or abruptly nudge many students away from Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math (STEM) fields of study and careers.
Newly LicensedWomenIndigenous
(Manitoba - 2019)

A lack of diverse representation means not only does the engineering field lose critical perspectives and insights of people from many backgrounds, but all of humanity misses out on potential solutions to the vast problems we face in our communities.

But it doesn't have to be this way.
Engineers Geoscientists Manitoba is working toward
professions that reflect the public they serve.

How? By working to change perceptions of who can be an engineer or geoscientist. To do this we must engage the engineering, geoscience and larger community to address bias and discrimination where it occurs.

Our mission is to continue breaking down the barriers that engineers and geoscientists face due to racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and ableism.
What is Bias ?
To be biased generally means to be one sided, to have a prejudice in favor or against a thing, person or group.
We all have biases, but the danger is when those of us with more privilege and power don't actively work against our biases and we allow the stereotypes we hold to impact our judgement or understanding of other people.
People can have explicit biases, which are opinions and behaviours we know about, and unconscious biases, those opinions and behaviours we don't even realize we have.

Bias has been built into systems, institutions, and language and this is how it is maintained and normalized.

This is often called implicit bias, which is a prejudice that is suggested or assumed, but not obvious or openly stated.
The most important thing to know about biases is that they are proven to be transformable.

Human brains are incredibly complex, and studies show that prejudices can be unlearned.

Policies, systems, institutions and language can evolve or be altogether changed.
Why we need Change .
The engineering and geoscience workforce requires diverse perspectives to create solutions that work for everyone.
Research proves diversity enhances creativity, problem-solving, performance and an organization's bottom line.
Beyond this, engineers and geoscientists create solutions that keep the public safe. When people from diverse demographics don't have a seat at the table, we run the risk of having one-size-fits-all technologies that don't account for everyone's perspective and needs.
Current statistics show there is simply not enough diversity in the engineering field - which has serious repercussions for us all.
A lack of representation can lead to negative results.
Read Caroline Criado Perez's article: The deadly truth about a world built for men - from stab vests to car crashes. [Caroline Criado Perez]
The danger of bias in facial recognition technology and how it can be stopped. [Joy Buolamwini]
Winnipeg's water supply aqueduct was considered an engineering marvel when constructed in 1919 but it had serious harmful effects on Shoal Lake 40 First Nation. [Shoal Lake 40] [Shoal Lake 40]
What we
Are Doing .
In December 2017, Engineers Geoscientists Manitoba took on a lofty goal, to ensure that the number of newly licensed female engineers in the Province reaches 30% by 2030.
Yet we also knew change had to come from the young people who are most affected by the barriers female students face entering the field.

In partnership with schools, thousands of petitions were hung in classrooms and school hallways throughout the province that outlined the problem and demanded solutions. The petitions garnered thousands of student signatures and inspired teachers and administrators to talk to their students about the issue.
The petitions were then delivered to the leaders of Manitoba's largest engineering employers, asking them to respond with how they planned to ensure that 30% of newly licensed engineers are women by the year 2030.

In response, the companies took action.
In November 2018, Manitoba's engineering community came together and founded the Manitoba 2030 Coalition, a standing committee of employers dedicated to collaborating on policies, setting benchmarks, and holding each other accountable in the industry to make sure the 30 by 30 goal is met.

Learn More about 30 by 30 Dear 2030 Campaign Engineers Canada 30 by 30
A great way to take your first steps toward a career in engineering or geoscience is to keep your mind open. Stay curious and look at the world with wonder and a critical eye. Question why things are the way they are and if you see a problem, imagine how you would fix it. Follow the link below to learn helpful ways to pursue a STEM career in any grade, and the importance of perseverance and determination when obstacles present themselves.
Many career decisions are made in the classroom long before we start seriously talking about careers. Teachers have the opportunity to dismantle stereotypes, ignite passions, inspire imaginations and support students on their path to success. Make sure your classroom is one that is inclusive and informative, with resources that bust biases in STEM fields into your lesson plan.
Your child is subject to harmful stereotypes from all directions: media, peers, and even the toys they play with. As parents, you may reinforce harmful stereotypes without even realizing it. But you also have the power to break them down. In the link below you will find helpful ways to speak to your child about diversity, how to interrupt stereotypes, information on engineering and STEM fields, as well as ways to nurture curious minds and support blossoming engineering and geoscience careers.
As a practising engineer or geoscientist, you have a critical role in creating a more equitable workforce. Your voice is integral in achieving more diversity within these fields. You have the ability to take on your own biases, as well as recognize and challenge those that persist in others. Keep your mind open and welcome the perspectives of those around you. Be proactive in dismantling stereotypes about engineers and geoscientists, and question whether your workplace is a supportive environment for people from all backgrounds and experiences. Being a champion is the first step in paving the way to a more diverse engineering and geoscience community. Where you have gender or racial privilege, use it to speak up for those with less and interrupt harmful assumptions. Follow the link for resources for ways you can be an actively inclusive member of our community.
Ensuring diverse representation is a pillar of your organization is about creating culture and policies that support an inclusive and healthy environment. The environment you create can determine if practitioners thrive, survive or leave. Follow the link below for resources and practices you can adopt for a more inclusive workplace.