Lab Canada

$250K to improve participation of women in science and engineering

Guelph, ON November 5, 2003 The first of four new regional chairs to increase the participation of women in science and engineering has been launched at the University of Guelph.

The effort is being supported by Canada’s Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) in partnership with private sector partner Hewlett-Packard Canada. Each will contribute $250,000 over five years.

“Our female faculty and staff members are excellent role models,” says Dr Valerie Davidson, the new chairholder. “The chair program will help to co-ordinate outreach activities and to evaluate the effectiveness of different initiatives.”

Last year, NSERC says it invited proposals to fill chairs for women in science and engineering in the Atlantic, Ontario, Prairie and British Columbia regions. A fifth chair in Qubec has already been filled. The initiative stemmed from a recommendation submitted to NSERC’s Council in June 1996 by its Task Force on Women in Science and Engineering, and from an earlier successful program of chairs that began in 1997.

“This goes beyond making sure that women have equal access to good careers built on knowledge,” says Tom Brzustowski, president of NSERC. “When a large section of Canada’s best minds are disproportionately absent from science and engineering, the loss in Canada’s potential to advance economically is huge. To date, the number of women engaged in long-term research careers is well below reasonable expectations. Our women’s chair program is bringing a fresh, much-needed momentum to solving this problem.”

NSERC is funding the regional chairs with $1.5 million over five years.