Where Are All the Women At?

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Stats Canada reports that only 22.3% of women are occupied in natural science, engineering, and math fields while only 6% are occupied in trades, transport, and construction. Conversely, nearly quadruple that are enrolled in teaching, nursing, and other health fields. So why the disparity? Is there just a lack of proper guidance at a young age? A lack of awareness of all the possibilities in technology and engineering related fields? Or just the plain old misperception that these fields lack any and all glamour?

My recommendation: more engaging female role models in these fields using the media.

TV networks like Discovery Channel characterize their audience as:

“…male between 18 and 49 years old. He comes to Discovery Channel because he knows what to expect – intelligent television that is also entertaining. His curiosity factor is high and he asks the simple questions: … His science must be visceral and experiential. Our job is to give the viewer an experience topped with information he wasn’t expecting.”

‘Male’. ‘He’. ‘His’. Clearly these Networks know  their audience and cater to it, that is after all how you get ratings. Perhaps that also explains why the list of shows aired on Discovery or OLN are predominantly hosted by males. But these networks should realize that they are in a position of power. Recognize the opportunity to attract a larger female audience and challenge women to also want intelligent television and intelligent careers.

I am willing to bet a charismatic female engineer as a host on Discovery Channel, Outdoor Life Network (OLN), or even Spike would boost ratings. Think about it: a female version of Bear Grylls? Women doing some of the dirtiest jobs in the world and interacting with the world’s most innovative technology?

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