Terri-Jane Yuzda

Conference Energizes Women in Science

APEGGA Councillor

The International Conference of Women Engineers and Scientists is a dynamic international conference, which occurs every three years in a different location around the world. Canada's first such international conference, ICWES12, was recently held in our nation's capital, Ottawa, from July 27 to July 31, 2002.

APEGGA was a bronze sponsor of this event, the 12th of its kind.

Hosted by the University of Ottawa and Carleton University, the conference worked under the theme Women in a Knowledge Based Society. Chair of ICWES12 was Monique Frize, P. Eng., O.C. Dr. Frize is an eminent professor of bio-medical engineering at the University of Ottawa and one of five NSERC/Industry Chairs for Women in Science and Engineering.

It truly was an international event as the 500-plus attendees represented more than 44 countries, including Canada, the U.S., Europe, Asia and Africa.

ICWES12 brought together not only a global audience of female and male engineers, scientists and students but also social scientists researching issues concerning women scientists and engineers. The conference offered a venue for everyone interested in studying and promoting the achievements of women in science.

Invited speakers included Monique Begin, Jim P. Bruce, Julie Payette, Dr. Claudine Simson and Dr. Miriam Stewart.

The program included more than 200 technical and non-technical papers, 13 panel discussions, two timely and pertinent symposiums, three roundtable discussions and five workshops. Topics ranged from environmental issues and scientific policy to youth programs and career development, from health issues to strategies on how to achieve a work-life balance. Issues facing women already in scientific careers, as well as those that encourage young women to pursue science, are truly universal.

Several authors/speakers in attendance from Alberta included Dr. Elizabeth Cannon, P.Eng., NSERC/Petro-Canada Chair (Prairie Region) from the University of Calgary; Lisa Carter from the Alberta Women's Science Network, and Karen Decontie, P.Eng., a structural engineer for the Government of Canada.

In addition, Kathy Sendall, P. Eng., senior vice-president with Petro-Canada and an APEGGA member, was keynote speaker at the opening ceremony. She told the story of the Famous Five who successfully initiated the Persons Case before the Supreme Court of Canada and eventually to the Judicial Committee of England's Privy Council.

The decision recognized "persons" to include both male and female genders, and allowed women to be appointed to the Senate. Due to the work of the Famous Five Foundation, a set of Women are Persons statues depicts these extraordinary pioneers (Emily Murphy, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Louise McKinney, Irene Parlby and Nellie McClung), gracing the Olympic Plaza in Calgary and Parliament Hill in Ottawa.
Emily Murphy was once quoted as rallying women "to stand very erect and to feel ourselves equal to high and splendid braveries." This strong sentiment echoed throughout the conference and became the unofficial mantra.

An excellent handbook for women in science, engineering and technology is Becoming Leaders by F. Mary Williams and Carolyn J. Emerson and published by the NSERC/Petro-Canada Chair for Women in Science and Engineering, and Women in Science and Engineering Newfoundland and Labrador. The book is filled with practical and useful strategies, backed by research and experience.

Becoming Leaders provides the tools to take ownership and move forward in your studies, career and personal life, as well as in your role as mentor, supervisor or executive. Copies of the book are available at the Calgary and Edmonton APEGGA offices at a nominal cost of $10.

The conference provided a venue for the establishment of the International Network of Women Engineers and Scientists. This organization will oversee future ICWES conferences, establish a website for information sharing, provide women an international voice, and develop an international base of financial support.



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