Dr. Wanda Costen gives her presentation on gender inequality in Canada’s public sector.

Glass ceilings, accessibility and social entrepreneurship

February 4, 2019 | Business

Last week as you walked through the halls, you may have noticed a few brightly coloured signs. Affordable and Clean Energy. Life Below Water. Good Health and Wellbeing. These are just a few of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals, and MacEwan University hopes you continue to familiarize yourself with them even after Global Awareness Week.

Faculty members in the School of Business addressed two of the goals as part of the Equity in Business panel on January 30: #8 Decent Work and Economic Growth and #10 Reduced Inequalities.

Dr. Wanda Costen, dean of the School of Business, spoke about gender in the public sector. While there is good news in Alberta (64 per cent of public sector jobs are held by women), there’s also bad news (the number of women takes a severe drop the higher the career ladder goes) and worse news (even fewer minorities in higher-up roles).

She brought up the idea of the “double-paned” glass ceiling. “The first pane is ‘can you just get to the c-suite?’ But even if you make it to the c-suite, the next pane is you're still not paid enough,” she said. “Research shows that the more educated the women are in the community, the more well off society. So what are we saying if our women are valued and paid less than men in the same positions? Things for you to think about.”

In the following segments, Dr. Michael Annett, assistant professor in the Bachelor of Commerce program, talked about diversity and inclusion through human resources management — with an emphasis on hiring people with disabilities — and Dr. Etayankara (Murli) Muralidharan, associate professor in the Bachelor of Commerce, presented his joint research on economic inequality and social entrepreneurship.

Murli explained that as income inequality increases in society, it becomes more probable that numbers of entrepreneurs will increase, to which Wanda identified an opportunity for further research.

“In the U.S. when women hit that glass ceiling, they're now getting frustrated and go start their own business,” she said. “And they may be predisposed to go to social entrepreneurship rather than commercial entrepreneurship.”

While the problems of economic inequality cannot be solved in one discussion, the speakers hope the students and faculty members in attendance have walked away with many ideas to think about and the inspiration to make change.


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