As part of our work to improve gender equality, SCC has done a cross-country analysis, using data from 106 countries, of the impact of gender on standardization. This groundbreaking research is captured in SCC’s new report When One Size Does Not Protect All: Understanding Why Gender Matters for Standardization.
Standards specify how to do, test, or identify something. They have been referred to as invisible infrastructure. SCC has found compelling evidence that standards are not protecting women as well as they are protecting men. Our research shows that the benefits of standardization for health and safety are not gender neutral. This has implications.
SCC’s research, outlined in the report, shows that countries which are more involved in standardization experience fewer unintentional male deaths. As a country’s participation in standardization increases, the number of men who die as a result of unintentional injuries decreases. When the analysis was repeated to determine the impact of participation in standardization on the number of unintentional deaths of women, there was no impact. Unlike for men, increasing participation in standardization is not associated with a decline in the number of women who die as a result of unintentional injuries.
When it comes to standardization, we’ve always known - anecdotally - that the benefits of health and safety standards are not gender neutral,” said Chantal Guay, CEO of SCC. “For example, throughout the pandemic we have heard reports of women health care workers being at a higher risk of contracting COVID because of ill-fitting Personal Protective Equipment. Thanks to SCC’s groundbreaking research, we now have concrete evidence to share with the world – to move us forward.”
Standards are a force for good in societies, ensuring that products, services and processes work as intended. They support economic growth, facilitate trade, and play a role in protecting health and safety. By taking action to ensure that standards are gender responsive, those responsible for standards development will magnify the positive impact they can have on society as a whole.
What is SCC doing?
In 2019, SCC became one of the first national standards organizations to publish a five-year strategy to improve gender equality in standards aligned with the United Nations Declaration for Gender Responsive Standards. Since then, we have been striving to establish a standardization system that is inclusive and equal, regardless of gender.
Recognizing the importance of considering gender in standards development, SCC – along with other national standards bodies, standards development organizations and international organizations – has signed the UNECE Declaration for Gender Responsive Standards and Standards Development. Additionally, SCC’s gender strategy emphasizes:
- Increasing the participation of women on technical committees;
- Building gender expertise into the standards development process; and
- Conducting sound research into the impact of gender on standardization.