WAGE Minister Monsef Meets SCWIST & Community Partners to Advance Gender Equality Across Canada!

STEM Expertise and Strength in Numbers:  SCWIST Past Presidents with Minister Monsef (L to R) : Hiromi Matsui, Hilda Ching, Minister Monsef, Fariba Pacheleh, Christine Wiedemann, Maria Issa and Penny LeCouteur

On August 26, 2019, Honourable Minister Maryam Monsef joined the SCWIST team for an update on our Make DIVERSITY Possible Project and ways we can advance women’s full participation in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).  Monsef is the federal minister for both International Development and Women and Gender Equality (WAGE), the latter of which is a major funder of SCWIST’s Make DIVERSITY Possible Project. SCWIST is currently in the final year of its three-year project to Make DIVERSITY Possible by working closely with STEM organizations to develop tools to access a diverse talent pool and to create inclusive workplace cultures where everyone can thrive and prosper.

Joining SCWIST were two of our industry test partners, Associated Engineering, a pan-Canadian engineering consulting firm, and Genome British Columbia, a large life-sciences organization in BC.  The meeting brought together a diverse group of over 30 women in STEM, including 20+ SCWIST board members, past presidents, volunteers and staff. SCWIST community partners who participated in the event included ISS of BC, MOSAIC, IWS Network, IEEE-Women in Engineering and Lighthouse Labs.

Opening remarks started with SCWIST President Kelly Marciniw sharingSCWIST’s impact over the last 38 years as we worked to remove barriers to girls’ and women’s interest, education and careers in STEM. Next was Make DIVERSITY Possible Project Manager Cheryl Kristiansen who gave an overview of the Make DIVERSITY Possible project and results to date.

Make DIVERSITY Possible Project Test Partners:  Jessica Lu from Genome BC (L) and Lianna Mah from Associated Engineering (R) with Minister Monsef (C)

The Make DIVERSITY Possible Project test partners each shared how their organizations are embracing the Diversity Awareness Tool, Diversity By Design workshops, Roadmap to Success and the Make Possible online mentoring platform. Diversity and inclusion practices are being embedded into these organizations, including how they recruit and advance talent, as well as how research projects are funded.

Christin Wiedemann, one of SCWIST’s three leaders in the Gender Equality Network of Canada (GENC), shared her positive experience with the GENC pan-Canadian network of 150 women working on policy recommendations to advance gender equality (a program also funded through WAGE).  Maria Issa, Make DIVERSITY Possible Project Chair, shared the importance of viewing projects and research through a gender-lens and highlighted the expertise that women in STEM bring to solving global challenges.

Minister Monsef stressed the importance and benefits of working in partnership – a  SCWIST focus in the new SCALE project to Connect, Advocate and Leverage Expertise to expand STEM diversity and economic empowerment across Canada.  The Minister also discussed the importance of long-term sustained funding like the multi-year grants SCWIST receives from WAGE, and the new Equality Fund which will bring together investors, philanthropists and community organizations.

Special thanks to everyone who joined us, to our WAGE Program Manager Barbara Lazcano, and to Cheryl Kristiansen, for arranging the opportunity which was widely celebrated on social media among the SCWIST network and through community partners.  A special thank you goes to Honourable Minister Maryam Monsef and the Canadian government for their continued strategic and long-term support of advancing gender equality in Canada and internationally.