Rye leads, city lags

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By Rebecca Burton
News Editor

In a city where women account for over 50 per cent of the population, they continue to be underrepresented in leadership roles.

These findings come from a report released by Ryerson University’s Diversity Institute on March 8.

The report, coinciding with International Women’s Day, concluded that within seven key industry sectors such as elected office, senior executives and board of directors, women only make up 28 per cent of these roles.

Visible minorities account for even less of these positions.

“There are qualified women including qualified visible minority women to take on the full range of leadership roles available in the GTA,” said Julia Hanigsberg, Ryerson vice-president administration and finance in a twitter message.

The research, lead by Diversity Leads, analyzed data from 2011 on 5081 senior leadership roles in some of the largest organizations in the Greater Toronto Area.

The group, part of the Community University Research Alliance (CURA) aims to conduct research regarding diversity in workplaces to aid organizations in improving their practices.

At a senior level, Ryerson itself suffers from a gender income gap. On the 2010 list of Ryerson staff making more than $100,000, only about one third were women, as reported by The Eyeopener in November 2011.

According to Wendy Cukier, Ryerson vice-president research and innovation, 50 per cent of vicepresidents at Ryerson are women. Cukier said too many women focus purely on performance — putting in 20-hour days and skipping lunches. But they are not realizing one of the key factors: networking and building of personal advancements, she said.

“Stereotypes around male and females are still pervasive. Women are held to a higher standard. They have to be competent and smart but also nice,” she said.

The report also looks at other factors including the differences between individual sectors. The education sector has among the highest percentage of women at 40.8 per cent compared to the corporate sector at 17.4 per cent.

Of the companies surveyed, only two had 40 per cent women as their board members. Compare this to 38.3 per cent of boards that had no women at all.

This report is the first in a series of five. The next phase of research is other underrepresented groups such as LGBT and persons with disabilities.

“It’s a complex set of issues that needs to be addressed,” said Cukier.

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