Gender and standardization

Standards are not neutral: they reflect the expertise and priorities of the people who develop them. Globally, there is growing recognition that standards may impact people differently depending on their gender. The United Nations Declaration on Gender-Responsive Standards and Standards Development calls on standards bodies like SCC to:


  • acknowledge the influential role of standards in society 
  • acknowledge that representation of women in standards development is almost always below parity
  • develop and implement a gender action plan that enhances expertise and advances gender-responsiveness in standards and standards development

Gender and Standardization Strategy

The strategy outlines our approach and workplan to fulfill the obligations found in the declaration.

Action plan for gender-responsive standards and gender balance in standards development

Through the strategy, we are implementing a workplan to ensure that Canada is well positioned to address the gender gap in standardization and to understand the causes and effects of this gap. 

Women’s involvement in standardization must be addressed. Standards are tied to increased labour productivity and economic growth, so this is a significant gap that the strategy will target. Here are the facts:  

  • Inequality is costly. The global economy could be $28 trillion higher in 2025 if the gender gap is fully closed.  
  • Women represent an estimated 30% of standards development experts involved in the development process according to ISO.
  • Canada is monitoring the participation of women on our ISO/IEC mirror committees. In 2022, women represented 28% of ISO mirror committee participants and 14% of IEC participants, even though they account for 48% of the labour market from which participants are drawn.  


The strategy and workplan

The strategy and workplan aim to:

Improve gender representation in standards development 


We will assess our mirror committees by sector to see where we can improve the gender balance. We will compare with labour market demographics to make sure our targets are informed and feasible. 

Build gender expertise into the standardization system 

We participated in the development of guidance documents that describe how to create a voluntary standardization system that is more gender responsive:

We will also engage with our accredited Standards Development Organizations (SDOs) and member programs to ensure that the document can be put into practice. Greater gender responsiveness in standards development will result in more relevant and effective standards. 

Contribute sound research 

We will demonstrate leadership and influence the future gender policies and strategies of other standardization bodies. This will be achieved through our contribution of robust research and analysis to this field of work, both of which are currently lacking.

We are committed to doing more research on this topic to better inform our policies and procedures. The current plan covers from 2019 to 2025. The strategy will be reviewed and updated as needed at least once a year. The workplan will also be updated as needed.


Gender-based analysis+ 

Through our corporate plan, we report on our gender-based analysis+ (GBA+) initiatives to the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, with a strong focus on gender. GBA+ examines identity factors such as sex, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, age, and mental or physical disability so we can take actions to promote equality. We are also implementing an employment equity program to review policies and practices.


Working with standardization partners 

We will engage key players in the Canadian standardization network and partner with other champions of this cause to ensure the strategy is successful. 

Our accredited SDOs will play a major role. A session on gender and standardization with the Standards Development Organizations Advisory Committee will highlight work that is underway and will identify opportunities for growth and collaboration.

We will also use and support the work of other bodies that are working towards gender inclusivity and equality in the standardization community, including:

  • Global Affairs Canada
  • United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
  • Réseau Normalisation et Francophonie
  • International Organization for Standardization
  • Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation