May 13, 2019Print | PDF
On Thursday, May 9, Federal Minister of Science and Sport Kirsty Duncan visited Laurier to announce details of a new Canada-wide initiative to promote equity, diversity and inclusion within academia.
The following is a transcript of Dr. Deborah MacLatchy's speech at the event.
Good morning everyone and thank you for joining us today.
I would like to especially extend a warm welcome to Minister Kirsty Duncan and Karine Morin, who have travelled from Ottawa to make this exciting announcement.
Just two months ago at the Laurier/IWF International Women’s Day Luncheon, I mentioned in my remarks how excited I was about Minister Duncan’s work to bring the Athena SWAN project to Canada.
So, I find it particularly meaningful today that Laurier is hosting the announcement of a Made-In-Canada Charter, which puts a Canadian stamp on an internationally-recognized program.
As Minister Duncan has highlighted, initiatives to increase equity, diversity and inclusion strengthen research and its impact, and increase opportunity.
When we remove barriers and have greater representation from people from all walks of life, we gain new perspectives that can lead to breakthroughs in science, technology, engineering, arts and math.
This Made-In-Canada-Charter highlights the steps we must take to improve access and inclusion of underrepresented groups in the post-secondary research community.
It is a call to action and a reminder of the shared responsibility we have in making changes to the way our institutions operate and engage with communities.
I am proud that at Laurier we have already taken steps to improve equity.
In the sciences at Laurier, men and women are equally represented at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Fifty one per cent of our Bachelor of Science students and 53 per cent of our Master of Science students are female.
Although there are still within-discipline challenges, for example, in the physical sciences, these numbers are representative of what is happening across the country and are vastly different from when I was an undergraduate and graduate student at Canadian universities.
But there are still challenges to address across under-represented groups and in our leaky pipelines and this is why we need continued positive action.
At Laurier, we are in the process of hiring a Senior Advisor: Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, who will play a key leadership role in the implementation of equity strategies across our university.
This person will identify and assess systemic barriers and develop strategies to reduce and remove those barriers.
Additionally, initiatives such as our Centre for Women in Science and Centre for Indigegogy foster education and partnerships in communities that are often under-represented in the worlds of research and training of highly qualified personnel.
In March, we also launched the first Women Founders Cohort in the Lazaridis Institute. Over the next few months, female founders from 10 of Canada’s most promising technology company start-ups will be travelling to cities across North America for intensive workshops with experienced executives on their road to perhaps becoming leaders of Canada’s next technology unicorns.
These are just a few of the ways that Laurier is breaking down barriers and there is still so much to do.
We know that work to improve equity needs resources. To that end, I want to also thank the Minister and federal government for recognizing this through the EDI Institutional Capacity-Building Grant program.
This financial support – of which Laurier will receive over $190,000 in 2019-2020 – will help us continue to pursue our equity, diversity and inclusion objectives and will support the new position of Senior Advisor: Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.
This is truly an exciting time for the research world as doors open and the talent pool deepens. The proactive steps we are taking now will pay dividends in the future as we create knowledge, examine fresh perspectives, and learn from each other.
Thank you once again for being here this morning in support of this significant announcement.
Together, we are working to create a community and country that provides opportunity for all who want to pursue it.
Listen to CBC Kitchener-Waterloo's coverage of the event.
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