The Viceregal Lion
  1. The Governor General of Canada
  2. Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette
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Women in Communications and Technology Annual Awards Gala

Ottawa, Ontario, Wednesday, April 27, 2016


When I gave my installation address as governor general, I said that my children had taught me all of the important things in life. 

Sharon and I have five daughters—Deb, Alex, Sharon Jr., Jen and Sam—and I could speak at length about all I’ve learned from them!

One of the most important things Sharon and my daughters have helped me understand is the barriers women face in their careers.

And of course, that includes women working in communications and technology.

That’s why I’m so pleased to be here for this evening’s celebration of excellence.

The recipients of these awards are breaking new ground, and it’s important that we recognize and celebrate their achievements.

To each of you, I offer my congratulations and my gratitude for all you have accomplished.

There are so many exciting careers in technology and communications, and you’re making great strides in designing, marketing and leading digital enterprises.

Your achievements matter: both in and of themselves, as well as for what they represent in the ongoing struggle for equality.

This is an exciting and challenging moment for women in the world of communications and technology. Change is happening everywhere. To quote Twitter’s Kirstine Stewart:

“Fuelled by technology and shifting demographics, digital technologies are creating a new world order that demands a new style of leader—one with attributes and perspectives that make women natural frontrunners.”

“That’s not just my view.” she continues, “That’s the conclusion from a growing body of research that finds women tend to have in spades what’s needed to lead successfully in the information age. It really is ‘our turn’.”

As she rightly points out, opportunities exist for women, but so of course do many barriers.

And here in Canada, we have no reason to feel complacent: Canada ranks 30th in the World Economic Forum’s 2015 Global Gender Gap Index, with Iceland and the Nordic countries leading the pack.

As the Globe and Mail reports, that’s down from 19th place in 2014 and from 14th place a decade ago. Some of the reasons include relatively low female participation in government and a growing wage gap. This is a significant drop. 

As everyone in this room knows, for women, success at the highest professional levels means working very, very, very hard.

There’s simply no doubt about it: women have to work harder than men to succeed both professionally and personally.

That’s why the struggle for gender equality must continue. The professional playing field is uneven, stacked against women.

This is both wrong and foolish.

First, equality is necessary because it’s the right thing to do. Everyone deserves an equal opportunity to succeed and to realize their full potential, regardless of who they are.

Just imagine, for a moment, if every girl in the world had the same opportunity to learn as every boy.

The world would be transformed.

Which brings me to my second point.

Why would a society limit the talent pool from which it draws? If we’re not allowing women to reach their full potential, we’re preventing our communities and our country from reaching their potential. We’re reducing our possibilities by half. It’s simple math.

Canada’s success on the global innovation stage depends upon achieving greater gender parity in all aspects of the digital economy.

Gender equality is both the right thing do, and the bright thing do, without question.

We’re not yet there yet, not by a long shot, but with sustained effort and constant work across all sectors, we can make progress.

As governor general, and as a male leader, I pledge to continue to advocate toward gender parity, and I call upon all men to join me in supporting equality for women.

All of you being recognized tonight have made outstanding contributions to Canada’s digital economy. In doing so, you have strengthened our communities and our country.

Congratulations to all of you on this well-deserved recognition, and thank you for your hard work in this important sector.

Have a wonderful evening!