From left to right: Dr. Elizabeth Croft, Associate Dean, Education and Professional Development, Faculty of Applied Science, UBC – John Bell, Member of the Board, Goldcorp – Dr. Rachel Kuske, Senior Advisor to the Provost on Women Faculty, UBC – Maryse Belanger, Senior Vice President, Technical Services, Goldcorp
The UBC Faculty of Applied Science will boost the number of women recruited to and enrolled in its engineering program thanks to a gift from Goldcorp. The $500,000 gift, announced today – on the eve of International Women’s Day – will establish a new Goldcorp Professorship in Women in Engineering at UBC.
The professorship focuses on promoting engineering as a creative and rewarding career. It aims to broaden the current talent by reaching out to high school students, parents, and counsellors to encourage students with aptitude in science, engineering and math to pursue a career in those fields. The professorship will help nation-wide efforts to address the skills shortage of approximately 100,000 engineers as predicted by Engineers Canada by 2020.
Engineering remains one of the last professions to see underrepresentation of women. Through a targeted recruitment strategy, the Faculty aims to increase the number of women enrolled in engineering at UBC from the national average of 20% to 50% over the next five years.
“It’s an extremely ambitious goal, but not one that is outside of our reach, with some dedication,” says Applied Science Dean Marc Parlange. “Goldcorp has a history of promoting female leadership, diversity and inclusion, and we are confident that with this partnership, we can make great strides forward.”
The program will build on successes at both UBC and Goldcorp in promoting women within the engineering sector. UBC is home to the NSERC Chair for Women in Science and Engineering, BC and Yukon region, which has developed numerous programs and conducted research to help the sector recruit and retain women. Dr. Elizabeth Croft currently holds the Chair.
“Diversity in organizations has been shown to bring a wide range of benefits to companies, both cultural and economic,” says Dr Croft. “This new initiative will help us recruit women into our programs, which is the first step towards ensuring that engineering companies have a diverse pool of skilled professionals for the future.”
“Goldcorp’s commitment to developing our people is one way to create a competitive advantage,” said Maryse Belanger, Senior Vice President Technical Services, who was instrumental in generating support for the initiative. “Programs that promote diversity and technical excellence are a logical step as we look to address the looming skills shortage in our business. This is also well aligned with our aim to create social and economic benefits in the communities where we operate.”
Goldcorp is the first international gold mining company to offer an enterprise-wide program for women called Creating Choices. The Creating Choices program is a tool offered to women across the company to unlock potential, build skills and achieve personal and professional fulfillment.
To date, over 1000 Goldcorp women have completed the program and the results are inspiring: 66 per cent of participants reported improved self-esteem, 72 per cent per cent increased their communication skills, and 75 per cent set new goals for themselves. The program has had a profound impact in cultures where women encounter cultural hurdles. Women in Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Canada and the U.S. have participated, and in 2013, Creating Choices extended to Goldcorp operations in Chile and Argentina.
The Goldcorp Professorship in Women in Engineering at UBC will begin its recruitment programs in summer 2014.
The University of British Columbia (UBC) is one of North America’s largest public research and teaching institutions, and is consistently ranked among the world’s 40 best universities. Surrounded by the beauty of the Canadian West, it is a place that inspires bold, new ways of thinking that have helped make it a national leader in areas as diverse as community service learning, sustainability and research commercialization. UBC offers more than 56,000 students a range of innovative programs and attracts $550 million per year in research funding from government, non-profit organizations and industry through over 8,000 projects and grants.
UBC offers engineering studies in six departments and five non-departmental programs, and is the largest engineering school in the province. Close to 35% of registered engineers working in BC received their education at UBC.
Currently, close to 5,000 and 1,300 students are enrolled in the undergraduate and graduate programs respectively. Approximately 900 students graduate with Bachelor of Applied Science degrees each year, and enter the workforce as Engineers in Training, or EITs, on their way to their designation as Professional Engineers. During their time at UBC, 35% of engineering students undertake paid co-op work terms.
In 2012, the national average enrollment of women in engineering programs was 18%. Currently, 20% of undergraduate engineering students at UBC are women. Some programs such as Environmental Engineering and Chemical Engineering have higher ratios of 44% and 34% respectively.
Ratios are slightly higher for graduate studies in UBC Engineering, with 24% of post-graduate degrees awarded to women. Within faculty ranks, 13% of tenured or tenure-track faculty are women with a national average of 12%.