Why Trudeau's push for equality is a mixed bag

Canada's Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland watches as PM Justin Trudeau speaks during an election campaign stop in Toronto, Ontario, September 20, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Osorio

There’s good news and bad news when it comes to gender equality in Canada.

The 2019 Reykjavik Index looks at attitudes and perceptions towards men, women and leadership in G7 countries. The good news is that Canada and France are tied for the best score in terms of perceptions around equality (77 out of 100 points) — bumping the U.K. out of the top spot.

The report breaks down attitudes by sector. Canada is tied with France for the top spot in tech as well as in government.

“Canada’s Reykjavik Index ranks first or first equal amongst the G7 in 14 of the 22 sectors, including sectors that are traditionally viewed as male occupations such as Automotive manufacturers and Aerospace,” reads the report.

Italy has the lowest overall score, followed by Germany and Japan.

The bad news for Canada is that a large percentage of the population has issues with women in leadership roles. 

Among men and women, 38 per cent of survey respondents say they are uncomfortable with a female CEO at a major company, and 41 per cent feel the same way about a woman as head of government.

The figures are lower when looking only at male responses. Nearly half (47 per cent) are uncomfortable with a female CEO, and 43 per cent would have trouble with a female head of government.

“At the G7 summit in 2018, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau placed gender equality at the top of his priority list,” reads the report

“Soberingly, only 4 per cent of companies on the Toronto Stock Exchange have a female CEO and just 17 per cent of board members are women.”

And despite the prime minister’s efforts to have more women in his government, his party still falls short of finding balance.

“In the 2019 Canadian general election, a record number of women were elected to Parliament – 98 in total, which is only 29 per cent of the members of the House of Commons,” reads the report.

While the report recognizes Canada’s strides, its authors say discrimination continues to hold women back from their full potential.

Jessy Bains is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jessysbains.

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