Increasing the visibility of women in science: Role
Increasing the visibility of women in science: Role Models, Mentoring and Awards Mona Nemer, PhD, FRSC Professor of Biochemistry Vice President, Research University of Ottawa April 20, 2009 VPR Office / Cabinet de la vice-rectrice la recherche Last ten years: Canadian academic scene marked by appointment of women scientists and engineers to high-level positions in research intensive universities
Examples: o Indira Samarasekera (engineer): President of the University of Alberta o Heather Munroe Blum (scientist): Principal, McGill University Recent appointment of women as first female dean of engineering schools/faculties: o Cristina Amon, University of Toronto; o Elizabeth Cannon, University of Calgary; o Tyseer Aboulnasr, University of British Columbia Suzanne Fortier (scientist): President of Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC): main national funding agency for academic S &E research VPR Office / Cabinet de la vice-rectrice la recherche
Sustaining Success and avoiding complaisancy While these are encouraging success stories, the access of women scientists and engineers to academic leadership positions is a recent trend, and its sustainability is problematic. Among other, demographic gap due to hiring freezes of the 90s presents challenges for mentorship and WISE presence on committees. Significant gains made by women in S&E fields in Canada since the 70s mainly on the educational front (first at the undergraduate level, then at the masters & doctoral level). But: o Engineering: female undergraduate enrolment has declined consistently since 2002, both in absolute numbers and as a proportion of total enrolment (under 20%) o Mathematics, Computer and Information Science: decline of womens representation at the
undergraduate and masters level since 1992 VPR Office / Cabinet de la vice-rectrice la recherche Source: CAUT Almanach 2007 VPR Office / Cabinet de laJ. vice-rectrice la recherche Vassileva, Cameco NSERC Prairie Chair, 2008 Source: CAUT Almanach 2007
VPR Office / Cabinet de la vice-rectrice la recherche National Initiatives to Promote Women in S&T 1989: Through NSERC, Canadian government creates national university-based chair for women in engineering: The Northern Telecom/NSERC Women in Engineering Chair: funded jointly by the federal gouvernment and by the private sector (Northern Telecom) Half of Chairs mandate devoted to the development and implementation of strategies to increase womens presence in S&E at all levels.
VPR Office / Cabinet de la vice-rectrice la recherche Northern Telecom/NSRC Chair heads two national Taskforces on Women in S&E (Canadian Committee on Women in Engineering, 19901992; Task Force on Women in S&E, 1995-1996) resulting in: Creation of 5 regional chairs for Women in S&E, funded jointly by NSERC and corporate sponsors, The program has 2 key objectives: o increase the participation of women in STEM and o provide role models for women active in and considering careers in these fields Launching University Faculty Awards to support universities
appointment of promising women researchers to tenure-track positions in S& E (controversial program because of reverse discrimination charges). VPR Office / Cabinet de la vice-rectrice la recherche Through networking, outreach, research and mentoring activities, chairs have promoted further development of leadership amongst women in STEM, inside and outside of universities, at the local, regional, national and international level. VPR Office / Cabinet de la vice-rectrice la recherche
Sustaining Womens advancement in Science Need coordinated Local, National and International Initiatives VPR Office / Cabinet de la vice-rectrice la recherche Advancing Women in Science & Engineering: Some uOttawa Initiatives Open House in Engineering for high school girls: Go Eng Girl! Encourage undergraduate females in S&E to experience research: WISE summer scholarships
Enhance the visibility of female researchers/profs on all university commitees and in all communications Revive the uOttawa chapter of WISE Regular seminar series with leading female speakers, followed by opportunities for networking and informal exchange Establish a mentorship program and award and promote mentorship at all levels Remind University Leaders regularly of the importance of gender balance and representations Launch ad campaign in public media celebrating women achievments in research and academic leadership VPR Office / Cabinet de la vice-rectrice la recherche
Advancing Women in Science & Engineering Granting Council Initiatives: Canada Research Chairs, a highly visible Program Problem: representation of women at CRC far lower than their representation on faculty bodies. Initiatives to correct problem: 1- Convene national conference of all canadian university research vice presidents focused on women advancement in universities 2- Require each university to provide gender targets and a plan for achieving it. Plans posted on web. 3- Require broad advertisement of each Chair to be filled 4- Enhance the visibility of female researchers in all
communications VPR Office / Cabinet de la vice-rectrice la recherche Advancing Women in Science & Engineering: The Royal Society of Canada Initiatives Enhancing participation of Women in S&E at all levels is one of RSCs stated priorities Dedicated Funds to support National and International Programs National Initiatives Opening access to RSC symposia to senior high school and university undergraduate students
Establishment of Regional Offices charged with outreach activities vs public, high schools and universities National WISE Fellowships: opportunities for RSC fellow to travel to another region and deliver talks at local universities and high schools Mentoring Program: Pairing female university student-RSC Fellow VPR Office / Cabinet de la vice-rectrice la recherche Advancing Women in Science &Engineering: The Royal Society of Canada Initiatives Example of International Programs: RSC-NSERC visiting fellowships for WISE, a bilateral exchange program with other academies
( UK, Japan, France) Helping junior scientists/professors access international networks while providing inspiring role models to young trainees, may be one of the most effective mechanism to advance women in SET. Such programs could be funded thru public-private partnerships both nationally and internationally VPR Office / Cabinet de la vice-rectrice la recherche CONCLUSION Advancing Women in Science & Engineering Role Models Matter
Mentorship Crucial Networks Essentials VPR Office / Cabinet de la vice-rectrice la recherche
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