Diversity and inclusion at NAIT
I received a mass email from NAIT aimed at "under-represented individuals in non-traditional programs such as women enrolled in IT, engineering technologies and skilled trades". I have attached my response to the Madlen Christianson, Manager, Student Engagement.
I feel compelled to reply to this invitation that I received via email. I am currently enrolled in an Apprenticeship program and the BBA program so I believe I have a good basis for doing so.
I find it highly condescending, superficial and disingenuous that the workshop features job search, resume writing and interviewing as topics as if this is what we as women and as minorities are struggling with within our chosen fields.
The whole premise of this seems to imply that we us women need some sort of fixing or that we are falling short in these very basic areas. There are a plethora of free government programs, publications, websites and agencies that are solely dedicated to this aspect. We do not need our tuition to be spent on services that are already widely available.
Women are struggling in these male/non-traditional roles because of an industry culture that institutions such as NAIT refuse to tackle openly, readily and inadvertently continue to perpetuate the stereotype.
This is especially apparent in the Apprenticeship programs in your smaller campuses. We are professionals. We do not need separate career fairs at this point when we are trying to get equality.
How about including it in the course work? Most trades have a chapter on management and covers nothing on diversity in the work place. How about creating a safe place for all students and not just those in the main campus? How about hiring female instructors in your trade schools? Having sufficient washrooms for the female students in said trade schools? The problem begins with how NAIT is treating the under-represented portion of your students.
NAIT sets the tone for those male graduates as they exit into the real world on how they treat their female counterparts. If it was unacceptable at NAIT then it would carry over. I am by no means placing all the blame on NAIT but rather pointing out the role that NAIT can play in changing the culture.
A trade fair is slap in the face. We are not suffering from poor resume writing, lack of interviewing skills, or lack of skills. We are suffering from an institutionalized problem where we are constantly being told that we are somehow falling short.
Might I suggest starting with statistical collection and compilation of the actual numbers of females in these programs and polling those students on what challenges they face rather than telling us what our problem is. The next step would be to tackle retention issues especially for those women who drop out mid program.
The problems women face in these roles has not changed since women started working in manufacturing in the 1930's. If NAIT is going to make a go at engaging women/minorities it has come from a place of genuine desire to make a difference rather than a photo op or a display of cheap concern.
I will be attending the session for review on my website.