The Canadian Academy of Engineers will spend June 23rd, 2020 celebrating International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) amongst other professionals and associations across the world. As an organization, we strive to encourage the concept of engineering as a career for all, as well as celebrate all that women have contributed to the world of engineering. We are honoured to stand with women in engineering careers, who continue to #ShapeTheWorld. To understand how we are contributing to this campaign, we have asked our board members to explain what this day means to them.
On June 23, join us in celebrating and continuing this conversation on our Twitter page and LinkedIn page. Visit the International Women in Engineering Day website for additional information. #INWED2020
Marc A. Rosen
“To me, it’s as simple as A + B = C.
A: Women can make great engineers and many women engineers have made great engineering contributions in the past.
B: Despite decades of efforts, women remain underrepresented in engineering, depriving society of many potential benefits and achievements.
C: We need more women in engineering, for equity and to realize the full benefits of engineering.”
Yves Beauchamp – CAE President
“This day is a reminder that parity between men and women is far from being achieved and that we must constantly push our efforts forward in order to attract and maintain the largest possible number of women within the engineering profession”
“In a word, the inclusion of women in engineering has meant freedom. Freedom to use all of one’s brain, freedom to help with and/or provide for your family, freedom to invent, to teach, to learn, to lead, to have power and to use it wisely and to escape from some mandated role that has no bearing on one’s abilities or desires. Freedom to take equal opportunities and shape them your own way. In return, I know that for the engineering profession it has made us all better and the world a better place. With all of society’s bright minds working on the issues and problems of our era, how can the solutions not be better, more timely and more relevant? With all perspectives available how can leadership not be better? The historical engineer I most admire is Elsie McGill, one of many early female engineers who made significant contributions while dealing with the personal side of her profession. The challenge today is to keep creating the opportunities, to educate that engineering is so much more than motors and mines and for leadership to reflect the success of an inclusive and integrated profession.”
“I graduated from UBC in 1996, with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Chemical Engineering, along with almost 1000 other engineering graduates. We had a remarkable classmate, Marlene Gosling, who was the first woman to have earned an Engineering Degree at UBC for several decades. At a time when there were very few women engineers in Canada and when much of Canadian society believed that women were not properly wired for this career choice, Marlene gave her classmates valuable insights into women in engineering, that we would carry with us throughout our professional careers. She was just as competent as the rest of us. She just wanted to be an engineer, have a fair opportunity to practice this profession, get appropriately compensated and have fair opportunities for advancement. Overcoming many obstacles, she achieved her goals with a successful career as an engineer for nearly 50 years. She was highly respected by her colleagues as an engineer and as a woman who affected subtle positive changes in the working atmosphere wherever she went. Sadly, Marlene died in June 2016, shortly before our 50th class reunion.
I have had the opportunity to work with many women engineers throughout my career. I have seen Marlene’s aspirations reflected in most of them. That is not surprising. After all, those are the aspirations of most engineers, but as a man, I simply took them for granted. We have moved a long way towards a more equitable and gender-neutral engineering profession, thanks in large part to the outstanding examples set by so many remarkable women engineers over the past 50 years. Women are still underrepresented in our profession. I don’t know what the appropriate representation should be. We won’t know until all girls going through our school system today see this as a legitimate career choice. We must all participate in achieving this goal.”
Nicole A. Poirier
“Women make up more than half of the Canadian population but are significantly underrepresented in the engineering profession. In Canada, about 20% of first year engineering students are women, although only around 12% of practicing licensed engineers are women. A recent poll reveals that half of Canadians cannot name a woman engineer or scientist, despite the numerous and important contributions they have made and continue to make. I am familiar with a great many exceptional female engineers, but in honor of INWED2020 (INternational Women in Engineering Day 2020 taking place annually on 23 June), I could think of none other better to celebrate than CAE Honorary Fellow Julie Payette, a most distinguished Canadian female engineer and astronaut, now referred to as Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief in and over Canada.
In addition to the 28 honorary doctorates she was awarded, Payette holds engineering degrees from McGill University (Bachelor of Electrical Engineering) and the University of Toronto (Master of Applied Science in Computer Engineering) and is able to converse in six languages. She joined the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) in 1992 as a member of the Canadian Astronaut Corps, completed two spaceflights, logged more than 25 days in space, served as capsule communicator at NASA Mission Control Center in Houston, and from 2000 to 2007 acted as CSA’s Chief Astronaut. She also holds a commercial pilot’s license, was invested into the Order of Canada in 2010, and is a Knight of the Ordre national du Québec.
In addition to her numerous corporate and board appointments, on July 13, 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Queen Elizabeth II approved the appointment of Payette as the next governor general of Canada, a role which she still assumes today. Her personal motto, PER ASPERA AD ASTRA (Through hardship to the stars), refers to her belief in the abilities of people everywhere to achieve their potential and make discoveries for a better world through determination, co-operation and healthy living.
This is a most inspiring motto for all, engineer or not and male or female. All persons have the opportunity to make their contributions to Canada’s prosperity and wellbeing. Payette’s career path is a testament to the idea that with perseverance and determination, no barriers are insurmountable even for female engineers.”
“When I returned to Canada in 1992 from the UK, I took up an academic position at the UBC Department of Mechanical Engineering. The Department Head at the time of my hiring and during my stay at UBC was Dr. Martha Salcudean. Martha, who passed away about a year ago, was an expert in the field of heat transfer and fluid dynamics. She was an outstanding Department Head and I believe was the first female to hold such a position in Canada.
Martha’s life in Romania before coming to Canada was difficult for most of us to even imagine. She was a Holocaust survivor who spent time in a concentration camp.
I came to know Martha as a world-class academic and leader in her field of research, a tireless advocate for research in British Columbia, Canada and beyond, and an entrepreneurial innovator. She taught me much about the value of partnerships between university, industry and government, and she was far ahead of her time in her thinking about this aspect of life in an engineering school. Perhaps most significantly for me and many others, Martha was a wonderful professional and personal mentor who remained a mentor throughout my career and who stood apart from anyone else that I have ever had the opportunity to work for.
While never seeking out honours or glory, Martha was recognized for her contributions, including several honorary degrees and fellowships, including FCAE. Martha epitomized the very best in Canadian engineering and the very best in human beings. When I think of the outstanding contribution of women to engineering, I think of Martha.”