Alberta leads in science and engineering program

The science and math world in our province, nation and around the globe tends to be male-dominated

  • Feb. 4, 2009 9:00 a.m.

The science and math world in our province, nation and around the globe tends to be male-dominated. This area of professions is not discriminating against women, it is looking to attract more women into these jobs in science and engineering.

There is an increasing demand for highly skilled engineers and scientists and to address this issue the Schulich School of Engineering at the University of Calgary is launching a web-basked mentoring program that pairs girls ages 11 to 18 with women scientists and engineers.

Jullia Millen, Cybermentor program director stated the importance of the program in a press release.

“Our goal is to raise awareness of the range of exciting careers and get young girls interested in science and engineering,” said Millen. “This is the time when they’re starting to think about their futures.”

With new technology and projects there is a growing need for scientists and engineers but the country, as well as the world, has seen a steady decline in enrollment in these areas, especially among young women.

Alberta is trying hard to stop these declines and is attempting to attract more women to those needed fields.

At the University of Calgary’s Schulich School of Engineering, there are 24 per cent of undergraduate students who are female, which shows well for the province, comparing to the national average of 17.5 per cent.

The involvement of women in these fields will be a benefit to the province as well.

“Alberta’s knowledge based economy will need highly qualified scientific personnel,” said Goug Horner, minister of Alberta Advanced Education and Technology in a press release. “Cybermentor will encourage more young women to continue with math and sciences so they can form the next generation of Alberta scientists, engineers and innovators.”

The program was initiated and created by Elizabeth Cannon who is the dean of the Schulich School of Engineering.

“A thriving engineering profession and productive research environment rely on the ability to attract women to science and engineering,” said Cannon who has also received the Minerva Mentoring Award from the Alberta Women’s Science Network. “Diversity leads to more creative and innovative solutions to the challenges of today.”

The Cybermentor program is partnered with the University of Calgary, the University of Alberta and the Alberta Women’s Science Network.

Alberta has been a leader with the program and Cybermentor has been adopted in Germany. There have been several other organizations from South America that have shown interest in using similar programs.