Invest in more training opportunities for girls and women, especially in “male-dominated” occupations.
Ensure that we nurture resiliency in young women so that they can cope with the demands of a fickle, tough job market.
Provide relevant, comprehensive education and career counselling for young women about to leave high school.
Create a childcare strategy that supports young mothers furthering their education.
These were some of the suggestions students and faculty put forth in a recent roundtable discussion with Teresa Piruzza, provincial minister of children and youth services.
Piruzza, who is also minister responsible for women’s issues, visited Brock University Jan. 7 as part of provincewide consultations to create the ministry’s strategy for the next five years.
“We need to always touch base with our youth, listen to them and really ensure that they are part of the discussion,” Piruzza told The Brock News.
“When you speak to individuals who research some of these issues, they’re going to have more of a perspective in terms of (what is happening in other) jurisdictions. They can bring forward recommendations that I may not have because I don’t do that level of research that they do,” Piruzza added.
Topics covered in the consultation included:
• key challenges young women face in the job market;
• getting more women to pursue careers in the sciences, engineering, trades and technology;
• supporting women entrepreneurs;
• reaching out to various communities of young women;
• actions that the private sector, educational institutions and the Ontario government should take “to help young women realize their full potential.”
“Participating in this roundtable was a great opportunity for our students to see links between education, policy and practice, and how it all can come together and really be meaningful in a grassroots way, not just a theoretical way,” said Shannon Moore, director of Women’s and Gender Studies and associate professor in the Child and Youth Studies department.
“I really appreciated the opportunity for young people to also see a female minister with such a large portfolio, to inspire them as they go forward,” added Moore, who organized the event.
Most of the audience was faculty and students from the faculties of Social Sciences, Applied Health Sciences and Humanities.
Moore noted that poverty poses a large barrier for young people to succeed.
“A higher percentage of women, especially newly arrived and racialized, indigenous, single moms and those with physical, emotional or cognitive challenges are poor,” she said. “These young women face the greatest challenge in accessing the types of education that lead to success in the labour market.”
Moore added that more than 70 per cent of new jobs require a college or university education, meaning now, more than ever, affordable education needs to be a government priority.
Anna Lathrop, Vice-Provost, Teaching and Learning said Piruzza’s visit to Brock was particularly relevant, given women constitute 60 per cent of undergraduates in Canadian universities.
“Brock is keenly interested in engaging in these discussions,” she said. “We appreciated having the opportunity to have our concerns heard and share openly with the minister.”
Some of these concerns, Lathrop noted, include sufficient funding to provide the best teaching and research environment possible.
“We wish to enhance student access and encourage ‘bridging programs’ that will facilitate the flow of students into the postsecondary sector, build their empowerment, and enable them to contribute to the economic welfare of the province when they graduate.”