by Doug Saunders
Originally published: March 13, 2017
When it came to women and the work place, Canada used to be the world’s model. A dozen years ago, when Germany began to notice that it had an expensive and embarrassing problem of a surprisingly small proportion of women who were able to enter the labour force, its officials looked to Canada for inspiration.
In 2005, women in Canada seemed unstoppable: The percentage of Canadian women active in the work force (though not necessarily employed) had soared from barely a fifth in the 1950s to nearly 80 per cent, about 10 points below the male rate, and they seemed headed toward equality. Germany, by comparison, despite having just elected its first female chancellor, was stuck in a previous century. At that time, only about 6 in 10 adult German women were even considering employment, a rate that hadn’t risen since the mid-1990s (and was far below the rate for men). The Canadians, it seemed, must be doing something right.
And then something went wrong.