MRO Magazine

Women to benefit from new science and engineering programs

Guelph, ON - The first of four new regional chairs to increase the participation of women in science and engineeri...


December 16, 2003
By MRO Magazine

Guelph, ON – The first of four new regional chairs to increase the participation of women in science and engineering was inaugurated in November, 2003, at the University of Guelph.

The Guelph chair was created by Canada’s Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) in partnership with private sector partner Hewlett-Packard Canada of Mississauga, Ont. Each will contribute $250,000 over five years.

“It is important that we improve and promote the integration of women students and professionals within university science and engineering faculties in Ontario,” said by Brenda Chamberlain, MP for Guelph-Wellington, speaking on behalf of Allan Rock, federal Minister of Industry.

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


“By providing role models to young women who wish to pursue careers in science and engineering, we are actively tapping a reservoir of rich Canadian talent,” said Allan Rock. “Innovation is crucial to Canada’s future and we need to encourage and call on all the bright minds who can make a valuable contribution.”

“Science and engineering are open doors to anyone who has the desire and ability,” said Dr. Rey Pagtakhan, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Secretary of State (Science, Research and Development). “It is important that we stimulate the participation of women in those areas where they have been traditionally under-represented.”

In 2002, NSERC 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,” said NSERC president Tom Brzustowski. “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.

NSERC is a key federal agency investing in people, discovery, and innovation. The Council supports both basic university research through discovery grants and project research through partnerships among universities, governments and the private sector, as well as the advanced training of highly qualified people.