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Why are there Male-Dominated Industries in Canada, Why is this a Problem and What can we Do?

Updated: Nov 15, 2023

By Anne-Marie Langan*

Several industries are known to be male-dominated, not only in Canada but around the world. The top 10 male-dominated industries in North America are aircraft piloting, finance, firefighting, information technology, software development, agriculture, architecture, clergyship and construction.

Women who work in these industries report having experienced many challenges including a lack of mentoring, sexual harassment, discrimination based on negative stereotypes about women's roles, pay gaps and not having access to the same opportunities for training and advancement as their male counterparts.

Studies have shown that companies with more women in leadership roles do better economically than those that allow their leadership to remain male-dominated. Some of the reasons posited for this are that having a more equitable workforce ensures that you have a wider spectrum of skill sets, and are therefore better able to match talent to specific functions. As well, companies that promote women to leadership positions are better able to recruit and retain other women particularly those with much sought-after skill sets and have better people management skills.

Those seeking to improve gender diversity in these professions suggest several of the following:

  1. Invest time and money into improving diversity in your company

  2. Actively recruit and promote female talent

  3. Inspire male employees to be allies in your efforts to diversify the workforce

  4. Make sure there is genuine buy-in in the top ranks and that managers walk the talk

  5. ensure your workplace policies promote diversity, accessibility and flexibility

  6. Make your intentions to diversify the workplace known to your managers and employees

If you are a woman who is working in one of these industries, some things you can do to advance your career and help diversify your workplace include:

  • actively seek opportunities for advancement.

  • Find a mentor

  • Speak up and make your presence known.

  • Don't be shy to ask for a raise and a promotion.

  • Network.

  • Join industry organizations and associations established for women.


Berlinsky-Schine, L. (2022, March 17). 10 male-dominated industries. Fairygodboss.

Fairygodboss. (2019, November 20). The 2020 blueprint for gender diversity in the Workplace.

Women in male-dominated industries and occupations (quick take). Catalyst. (2022, January 21).,the%20skilled%20trades%20in%20Canada.&text=Just%208%25%20of%20working%20women,are%20in%20male%2Ddominated%20industries.

*Anne-Marie Langan B.A., B.S.W., LL.B., LL.M. is the project lead for the sexual violence projects at Peterborough Community Legal Centre, including the SHAPE project which provides legal advice and education for those experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace and the Your Way Forward project which provides support for those who have experienced intimate partner sexual violence. These projects are both sponsored by the government of Canada's. She can be reached directly at

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