A new survey by Leger research found that nearly 70 per cent of “engaged” women across Canada believe the country’s oil and gas industry can help achieve an affordable, growing and successful economy.
But only one in 10 of them are very likely to share their opinions beyond their circle of family and friends.
Enter Canada Powered by Women (CPW), the national coalition of female leaders that commissioned the poll this spring.
“The voices on the extremes are really loud, and the voices in what we would call the balanced middle, weighing pros and cons and finding balance, those voices are generally not heard,” says Sue Riddell Rose, CPW’s board chair and CEO of oil and gas producer Perpetual Energy.
“Individually, it’s hard to bring a balanced middle voice to a very loud conversation on both sides. The power of many voices is something that women feel that they can really rally behind.”
‘Engaged’ women concerned with expressing opinions
To conduct the cross-country survey, Leger and CPW identified a population they call “engaged women.”
They are 18 years and up; they read or listen to local, national or U.S. news; they are familiar with federal, provincial or municipal politics; they identified as being somewhat left to strongly right on the political spectrum; they’re interested in influencing government; and they are informed about the economy, wanting to be part of creating a prosperous future for all.
Almost all women Leger surveyed (between 89 to 91 per cent) said they are familiar with oil and gas in Canada and can identify, unprompted, the variety of benefits Canadian oil and gas brings to their families and communities.
The survey found their main barrier for sharing opinions beyond an immediate circle of family and friends is a lack of information on the more complex details of the topic (48 per cent). Other barriers include many women considering it a sensitive topic (27 per cent) and preferring to avoid arguments (26 per cent).
“Engaged women are fully online — they follow news outlets, they’re really present, interested and read everything, but they absolutely do not engage outwardly,” says Tracey Bodnarchuk, CPW co-founder and acting CEO.
“And it’s because they are concerned with the potential repercussions of expressing their opinion in a polarized environment, on a complex topic.”
Energy transformation an opportunity for Canada
Rose says the ongoing transformation of energy systems across the globe is complex but full of opportunity for Canada – and it’s imperative women play an active role in shaping a balanced and holistic approach.
“We’re really about inspiring and facilitating conversations, bringing information, knowledge and a range of perspectives from across the country,” she says.
“Our goal is to take those perspectives and be that voice of many to illuminate or amplify that in the public sphere with the notion of influencing policy.”
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