MSC Alumni Profile: Jordan Ewart (BA IDS, 2018)
How an International Development Studies major can change the trucking industry in Canada
For Jordan Ewart, policy analyst at the Saskatchewan Trucking Agency, the trucking industry in Canada continues to experience a significant shortage in female employees. With 97% of truckers identifying as male and only 3% as female, Ewart—who graduated with a BA in International Development Studies and is completing an additional major in Conflict Resolution Studies at Menno Simons College (MSC)—is recognizing more and more the need for female employment in a male-dominated industry.
As a response to these concerns, Ewart has partnered alongside the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) to create Women Shifting Gears, a three-phased program aimed at elevating underemployed and unemployed women who are interested in acquiring lifelong skills in order to enter the trucking industry. Ewart comments that "women entering the program will experience a comprehensive breadth of professional and personal abilities including personal wellness, physical fitness, pre-employment skills, and training that will enable them to be equipped to enter not only trucking work but many other employment opportunities."
Reflecting on his experience as a student at MSC, Ewart notes: "when I think about barriers to employment, I also think about structural violence. I think of how Indigenous women and newcomers to Canada, who are 95% of the women applying for trucking positions, are impacted by this violence." Being able to identify systems within institutions or industries that hinder gender and cultural differences make up the bulk of what it means to combat structural violence in the workplace. "I think this begins from the bottom-up," says Ewart, "by working with organizations like YWCA we can hopefully increase the capacity of many women and restore dignity to their lives."
Restructuring a male-dominated system means empowering women with women. Drawing on female truck drivers, presenters, directors in the industry, and even an Olympic bobsledder (to give a confidence pitch), Ewart seeks an approach distinctly for women by women in order to give women more safety in the world of trucking. As Gina Loewen, Academic Advisor at MSC, remarks: "International development has so many levels and layers that cannot be fully realized until you are able to begin applying development in specific communities with specific needs. Community development is needed in any context. Ewart's program proves exactly this."
Though some might question whether an arts degree could provide formal preparation for a job as a policy analyst in a trucking industry, Ewart reflects that it was only after his degree that he was able to answer the commonly asked question "what will I do with an arts degree?" After years in the industry, Ewart explains that "Many people think that trucking is a dirty business with no money in it. This is a myth. There is money and safety in the industry, which is what we want to promote through this program. There are a lot of transferable skills in the trucking industry. I am the perfect example of this."
Women Shifting Gears begins November 2, 2020 and extends until February 28, 2021.