Will Canadian women need to ‘lean in’ for next 228 years?

Despite efforts to increase the number of women in politics and on corporate boards, it will take Canada some 228 years to narrow the gender gap between men and women.

That's according to a study released this week by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, which says Canada's score of 2.3 per cent using a methodology from the World Economic Forum has barely budged in the past two decades.

To put this into context, overall performance is measured in areas of health, education, economics and politics, beginning in 1993. Canada scored 0.738 in 2012 out of a maximum of 1, which represents no gap. That compares to 0.715 in 1993.

"At this rate, Canada will not close its gender gap for another 228 years," says Kate McInturff, a research associate at the left-leaning CCPA and author of the report. “I won’t be alive to see it close and neither will my children or my grandchildren.”

When it comes to female advancement, economic participation and opportunity are weak. This area is measured by labour-force par­ticipation, income, and the ratio of women to men in professional, technical and management positions. This ultimately translates into flat growth in the number of female legislators, sen­ior officials, and managers.

According to the study, the closer women get to the top, the greater the barriers to achieving equality. The trend is stark in the measures related to political participation.

“Political participation is the one area measured by the global gender gap in which rapid change is possible, yet it is the area with the least progress and the slowest rate of change,” says McInturff.

On the bright side, Canada has had a nearly perfect score in the areas of health and education over the past twenty years.

In order to see change in the workplace, women must look inward and have the confidence to speak up, be assertiveness and demand equality with men. These concepts form part of the "Lean In" philosophy, coined by Sheryl Sandberg, who is the chief operating officer at social media titan Facebook.

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