Mentoring Program Aims to Increase Gender Equality

Alberta has more women working than any other province, yet only seven per cent of them serve on corporate boards.

Status of Women mentorship participants at the program launch on September 20 (L-R): Mandita Barthakur, Meredith Perich, Dr. Elizabeth Cannon, Stacey Waldal, Minister Stephanie McLean, Karen Sobel, Cara Wolf, Morgan Craig-Broadwith, Holly Atjecoutay, Laura Didyk and Mary Moran.

Status of Women Minister Stephanie McLean has launched a pilot program in Calgary to help remove barriers and expand leadership opportunities for women. The six-month program matches women with mentors who are leaders in the areas of engineering, construction, finance, academics and business development.

Volunteer mentors will share invaluable advice, connections and opportunities to support their mentees’ career development. This pilot is part of the government’s ongoing work to advance women’s equality by tackling systemic barriers and deeply rooted gender biases that keep women out of leadership positions.

“All women in Alberta deserve an equal opportunity to succeed, but still face systemic inequalities. Women do double the unpaid care work, get paid less for equal work and are less represented in senior roles. By connecting women with personal champions, we unlock their economic potential and help remove barriers that keep women behind. Working for women’s equality is not only the right thing to do, it’s good for Alberta’s economy.”

Stephanie McLean, Minister of Status of Women

June 2017 study by McKinsey Global suggests that advancing women’s equality at work could boost Alberta’s GDP by six per cent. And Conference Board of Canada researchhas concluded that companies with women in senior roles have a competitive edge – they are more profitable and more innovative and make better decisions.

The program will help mentees create a learning plan with their mentors and participate in professional development opportunities facilitated by Status of Women.

“Learning from a successful woman who has extensive life and career experience is integral to the advancement of other women in business. An experienced mentor can help hone my business skills and support me in overcoming some of the barriers women face in the workplace. That combination of perspective and experience is key to women advancing in their careers.”

Holly Atjecoutay, mentee, Government of Alberta Mentorship Program

“There is nothing more rewarding than seeing your mentee reach new heights, overcome challenges and succeed as a result of your advice, support and guidance. Every great leader starts with a great mentor.”

Laura Didyk, vice president financing and consulting, Business Development Bank of Canada

The program will be evaluated in the spring of 2018 to determine if it should expand to other sectors or locations in Alberta.


  • Terry L. Allen, president, Pivotal Capital Advisory Group
  • Dr. Elizabeth Cannon, president and vice chancellor, University of Calgary
  • Laura Didyk, vice president financing and consulting, Business Development Bank of Canada
  • Mary Moran, president and CEO, Calgary Economic Development
  • Geeta Sankappanavar, president and COO, Grafton Asset Management
  • Karen Sobel, senior vice president, WorleyParsons
  • Cara Wolf, CEO Ammolite Strategies

Quick facts

  • Women make up 39 per cent of senior management positions in Alberta, while men make up 61 per cent
  • Men in Canada are three times more likely to advance to senior corporate positions than women
  • Research shows that mentoring women helps advance their careers at a faster pace and improves success rates