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Women Employed in the Canadian Geomatics Sector

Universal Geomatics Solutions Corp. (UGS) were happy to recently announce that they are now a majority female-owned business. Located in Alberta, UGS provides land surveying, construction support, mapping and project management to various industries. Services and industries where the workforce is often associated with male-dominated jobs. However, for UGS, diversity and inclusion were deemed very important and becoming a majority female-owned firm was a significant milestone.

The Geomatics Gender Divide Across Canada

For UGS, this was a big step towards diversity and equality. It was a significant move in the right direction — but how does the rest of the geomatics sector measure up? Historically, people who worked in geomatics were typically male. Regretfully, it seems that this is still the case — but slowly, this is changing, and women are entering this sector. In 2016, British Columbia reported that just 5% of land surveyors were women. However, technical occupations in geomatics (including positions in aerial survey, GIS technicians, remote sensing, etc.) were 37% women.

Across Canada, Statistics Canada has reported an increase of 7.6% of women employed in college-level architecture, drafting, and land surveying types of positions (from 8,400 women in 1991 to 15,000 in 2011). For university-level professions (architecture, urban planning and land surveying), the increase was 1.7% for women (from 4,100 in 1991 to 5,100 in 2011).

All Female Survey Crew Source (via PDH Academy) Minidoka Project, Idaho, 1918, U.S. Department of the Interior

Moving Forward: Will We See Change in 2021?

We will gain more insight into the progress made through the 2021 census results and see if the proportion of women in geomatics has improved. At present, the data does not look promising. Yet, this is slowly changing. With the increased push for more female students into STEM, I am hopeful that the future will bring more women into what was, and in many ways still is, a male-dominated field. Through these efforts, we can hope that a more gender-balanced workplace will become the norm. Geomatics occupations that fall under the umbrella of STEM occupations are a small portion of the total. Therefore, I hope there are more efforts to attract females to the industry and trust that companies will strive for gender balance. I am sure that seeing more news like UGS’ will help inspire females to join the rewarding industry that is geomatics.


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