Lab Canada

New initiatives to increase the role of women in science and engineering

Vancouver, BC – The federal government and General Motors of Canada are funding the new $700,000 NSERC/General Motors chair for women in science and engineering for the British Columbia and Yukon regions. The program will be headed by Dr Anne Condon, a professor of computer science at the University of British Columbia.

“I am delighted to get this chance to help involve more Canadian women in science and engineering, especially in the computational sciences,” says Dr Condon. “There is so much potential for technology to make a positive difference in society – in helping to cure diseases or providing better educational tools for children – and we need women, as well as men, committed to working towards these goals.”

Among other things, Dr Condon will provide funding to the Canadian distributed mentor project to enable outstanding undergraduate computer science students to travel to a Canadian research institution for a summer of research and mentoring.

Dr Condon, who specializes in research in bioinformatics, biomolecular computation and complexity theory, has led other successful outreach programs for female students similar to the Canadian project. She headed a mentoring initiative in the United States where approximately 70 female undergraduate students spent a summer doing research under the supervision of a female mentor. Many of these students later entered graduate school in a related area.

Last year, NSERC invited proposals to fill chairs for women in science and engineering in the Atlantic, Ontario, Prairie and British Columbia regions. The University of Guelph’s Dr Valerie Davidson has already begun her work as chair for women in science and engineering for the Ontario region and Dr Cecilia Moloney of the Memorial University of Newfoundland has done the same in the Atlantic Region. Dr Claire Deschnes of Universit Laval continues to occupy the chair in Qubec. The prairie chair remains to be filled.