Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

September 16, 1999

U of G wins award created in memory of slain engineering students

The University of Guelph is the first recipient of the Women-Friendly Engineering School/Faculties Award from the Canadian Engineering Memorial Foundation (CEMF). The award was created to mark the 10th anniversary of the fatal shooting of 14 women at Montreal's Ecole Polytechnique engineering school.

"The University of Guelph best matched the criteria demonstrating an environment that was both welcoming and inclusive of women at the student and faculty levels," said Deborah Worrad, executive director of the CEMF, which was founded in 1989 in memory of the tragedy.

The award recognizes a university that has made significant contributions to improving the climate for female engineering students and faculty members, including:

-- Welcoming practices and outreach activities;

-- General student behavior toward women;

-- Faculty and staff behavior and treatment of female students and faculty;

-- Campus support services and security measures for women;

-- Leadership of administration and their response to women's issues;

-- New initiatives and future plans.

CEMF recognized several factors about Guelph's engineering programs that are attractive to women, including smaller, more intimate programs and its collegial atmosphere, said Doug Joy, an engineering professor and chair of the school's awards committee. Women make up about 40 per cent of Guelph's nearly 600 undergraduates in the School of Engineering, twice the average among engineering schools and faculties across Canada. However, Joy added the school avoids pushing special initiatives intended to increase female enrolment.

Lambert Otten, director of the School of Engineering, attribute the success to "the fact that we're a small, friendly school where everybody contributes and where there is a lot of interaction between students and faculty."

The school also takes advantage of programs that promote women in engineering, including running "Engineering Connection," a year-old program that pairs up high school students with University counterparts. It also offers a mix of programs -- particularly biological, environmental and water resources engineering -- that attracts students looking for an alternative to the more traditional programs offered by larger schools across Ontario and Canada.

"We've always had a unique engineering culture that ties into the University's strengths in the biological sciences," added engineering professor Val Davidson. Davidson helps review U of G applications for the National Research Council's Women in Engineering and Science award program, which aims to encourage women to pursue research careers in the under-represented fields of engineering, science and math.

The University will receive a plaque from CEMF during an awards ceremony to be held in Calgary next month.

Contact: Prof. Doug Joy, School of Engineering (519) 824-4120, Ext. 3048

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 3338

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