Between May 31st and June 2nd, we had the pleasure of attending and presenting at the 17th biennial Canadian Coalition of Women in Engineering, Science, Trades and Technology (CCWESTT) conference in Edmonton, Alberta. Here we met with other like-minded men and women who value the importance of women (but also diversity) in science, engineering, trades and technology (SETT). We attended seminars and workshops relating to intersectionality, engaging students through play, micro-aggressions in the workplace, engaging students in high school physics courses, etc. These seminars engaged participants and demonstrated how we can incite further change. We’d like to give a shout out to Vanessa Raponi from EngiQueers for her amazing eye-opening presentation on intersectionality. If you get a chance, check out their website http://engiqueers.ca/!
On the last day of the conference, we had the pleasure of hosting a workshop for our research, Le génie au service des femmes: Rethinking the Faces and Spaces of Engineering. After providing a bit of background information regarding our research, participants were asked to ponder questions we’ve been asking ourselves. Here are a few questions we discussed, as well as answers provided by participants!
Do you know of any accomplished women in engineering? Famous? Not so famous? Can you think of teams where a woman or women made a difference
- Roberta Bondar, Julie Payette, Grace Hopper, Ada Lovelace, Kim Smith, Heather Sheardown, Kathy Baig, Kim Woodhouse, Leslie Rigg
- Teams: Modelling the pelvic core, drug delivery to eyes, water projects in Africa/working with Indigenous communities, Capstone project, cracking enigma codes.
Can you think of devices that women need or that need to be improved for women?
- Bras, personal protective equipment that fits, breast pumps, glass, steps, safety apps, nail polish to detect drugged drinks, cars designed around women – access, seatbelts, airbags.
Do you have any suggestions or solutions that may help engage more women on issues of female interest? In youth? At university? In industry?
- Teamwork, talk more about taboo/female issues in engineering, discuss the reality of the workplace, social media, project-based integrated learning, focus on outcome applications, train teachers on diverse engineering applications, entertainment/celebrity endorsement, emphasize the effects of engineering on people, use careful language.
Describe engineering culture. Do you think it needs to change?
As you can see, these questions brought forth interesting answers that are worth further discussion. However, our workshop served as an opportunity to ignite thinking with regards to women working on issues of female interest or issues that are concerning to women.
We’d like to thank everyone who participated in our workshop and invite everyone else to think about these questions. If you’d like to share your answers, we’d love to hear from you! Send us an email at ENGFemmes@uottawa.ca or share your thoughts on Twitter @ENGFemmes.