Although Canada has made significant strides toward gender equality, there is still work to be done. According to a recent report from the Global Gender Gap Index, Canada ranks 25th in the world in terms of gender equality, with women still facing a number of barriers in the workplace and beyond.
In fact, women in Canada still earn, on average, only 89 cents for every dollar earned by men. This pay gap is even wider for women from marginalized communities, such as Indigenous women, racialized women, and women with disabilities.
Plus, women are underrepresented in leadership roles across all sectors, with only 1 in 3 senior management positions in Canada held by women.
But today, we're shining a spotlight on incredible Canadian women who are breaking barriers and excelling in their fields, all while showing women and girls that glass ceilings can be shattered.
From science to politics, these trailblazers are pushing boundaries, smashing stereotypes, and paving the way for a more equitable and inclusive society. Here are five women to watch in 2023.
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driving change in the startup space
Meet Bobbie Racette, a trailblazing entrepreneur and the Founder and CEO of not one, but two innovative companies: Virtual Gurus and askBetty. These businesses specialize in providing virtual assistance to professionals who are short on time.
But what sets Bobbie apart from other business leaders is her unwavering commitment to hiring underrepresented members of the community for meaningful work.
As a member of several marginalized communities herself, including Indigenous, female, and 2SLGBTQIA+, Bobbie understands the challenges faced by people who are often overlooked by traditional employers.
Despite encountering pushback from investors who wanted her to downplay the importance of hiring marginalized individuals, hide her tattoos, and keep her personal story under wraps, Bobbie refused to compromise her values.
Instead, she sought out other investors who shared her vision for an inclusivity-first company. Today, Bobbie is proud to be the first Indigenous woman in tech in Canada to close a Series A funding round for her business.
She continues to lead by example, building a diverse and inclusive workforce, and inspiring countless aspiring entrepreneurs who share her passion for making the world a better place.
sustainably solving real-world problems
From passion to purpose, Natasha Dhayagude has fearlessly led her food technology company, Chinova Bioworks, toward real-world solutions. With a dedication to natural preservatives and the right support system at her side, she's been able to break the traditional moulds of success in the food industry, while building an inclusive team that champions diversity.
Like many women who feel pressure to do their best work at all times, Natasha initially had a hard time finding a balance between her vision and taking control of business operations - until she built up a team she trusts.
With this, she was able to transform the concept of enhancing the shelf-life of clean label foods into a commercial reality. Now more than ever before, food manufacturers have access to sustainable solutions thanks to this team of forward-thinking innovators working together under Natasha’s leadership - proving it truly takes a village (or company) to make positive change happen.
persevering into outer space
At age 36, Farah Alibay is already making waves in her field. A systems Engineer at NASA and a published writer, she is a force to be reckoned with. In her autobiography, Farah gets candid about her experience at NASA and the valuable allies who helped her along the way.
As a woman in a male-dominated field, she recognizes all the women who mentored her, motivated her, and shattered glass ceilings before her.
Farah’s journey from a small town in Quebec to some of the world's most prestigious universities is nothing short of inspiring. Her path has been marked by a relentless spirit of perseverance, and for Farah, success is a shared experience: she's quick to credit the team of collaborators who made the Mars Perseverance mission a success. But her ambitions don't end there.
Farah is determined to continue working at NASA, blazing new trails in space exploration, and expanding humanity's understanding of the universe every day.
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emily charry tissier
ethically influencing the world of AI
Emily Charry Tissier is a groundbreaking biologist who has made a name for herself as one of the most influential women in the field of artificial intelligence. Together with her partner, she co-founded Whale Seeker, a project that harnesses the power of AI to simplify marine mammal monitoring and ultimately protect these incredible creatures.
But for Emily, ethics is key. She's determined to ensure that the data, algorithms, and people she works with are all in line with her commitment to environmental responsibility. Whale Seeker isn't just about technology - it's about using that technology to make a positive impact on the world.
Emily's dedication to ethical AI has earned her a spot on a prestigious list of Women in AI Ethics. She's acutely aware that there are still too few women in the industry, which is why she's passionate about inspiring the next generation and breaking down the barriers that have held women back for too long.
Through her work with Whale Seeker and her advocacy for other women in the field, Emily is leading the way toward a more inclusive and diverse future in tech.
amplifying diversity in business and leadership
As the Executive Director of The BlackNorth Initiative (BNI), Dahabo Ahmed-Omer is a champion for human rights and a fearless advocate for Black Canadians. Her mission is simple yet powerful: to break down the systemic barriers that have held Black Canadians back for far too long, and create a more inclusive workplace and society.
Through a range of innovative programs and partnerships, Dahabo has rallied over 500 organizations across Canada to take action and commit to addressing anti-Black systemic racism in the workplace by 2025.
But she's quick to point out that her success is not a one-woman show. Dahabo celebrates the power of her dedicated team members at BNI, and recognizes that it's through collaboration and hard work that true equality can be achieved.
For anyone looking to start their own business, Dahabo has some sage advice: know your why, set your goals, and be passionate about what you're doing. With her unwavering commitment to creating a better world, Dahabo is a shining example of what can be achieved when passion and purpose align.
the power of community
The importance of collaboration and mentorship cannot be overstated. Women have a unique ability to uplift and support each other, and by doing so, they can dismantle barriers and pave the way for future generations.
Whether it's through formal mentorship programs, peer-to-peer networking, or simply sharing stories of triumph and challenge, women can make an incredible impact on each other's lives and careers.
As we celebrate these remarkable women and their accomplishments, let us also remember the power of building and maintaining a strong, supportive community of women.
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