Today, US president Donald Trump and Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau participated in a roundtable discussion about women in the workforce, where they announced a new task force called the United States Canada Council for the Advancement of Women Business Leaders-Female Entrepreneurs.
According to a White House official, Trudeau’s office reached out to Trump’s team to discuss working on a joint effort to further the advancement of women in the workplace. The official, speaking to the Associated Press, said Trudeau’s office sees this as a ”shared interest” between the two leaders.
It’s true that the issue has been a pet project of Ivanka Trump, who pushed for maternity leave to be included in Trump’s presidential campaign platform. But a look at the cabinets of the two world leaders shows the very different approaches they take to gender equality.
Trump’s cabinet is overwhelming white and male, with only four women in the 22 positions picked so far. (He has yet to nominate anyone for chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.) This is not typical; as it stands Trump’s cabinet would have a smaller percentage of women and nonwhites than the first cabinets of Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George Bush.
Meanwhile, when Justin Trudeau took office in 2015, his cabinet was made up of 15 men and 15 women, the first time in Canadian history that women comprised half the team. When a reporter asked why “gender parity” was so important to Trudeau, he shrugged and said, “Because it’s 2015.” It reflects his vision for his country: Trudeau, a proud feminist, said it was important that his cabinet “looks like Canada”—equally balanced between men and women, and diverse.
Trump’s administration has not commented on the gender makeup of his proposed cabinet.
“I had so many women executives that were phenomenal, phenomenal, and they really helped me a great deal in business,” Trump said at the roundtable. “In order to create economic growth and lots of very good, well-paying jobs, we must ensure that our economy is a place where women can work and thrive, and I think that’s happening in the United States much more so…. We need policies that help to keep women in the workforce and to address the unique barriers faced by female entrepreneurs. And they are unique.”
This article has been updated with details of the task force announcement.