Faculty member, Electrical Engineering Technology
Institutions like Algonquin College are dedicated to increasing the number of women in male-dominated STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) industries.
Despite decades of breaking down gender barriers in the workforce, women are still underrepresented in STEM fields. Post-secondary schools are taking a closer look at how they can help diversify future talent. The realization is this: women need to be engaged in STEM early on in their educational journeys.
Giving young women and girls the chance to develop interests in these fields increases the chances of them choosing STEM career paths. Oftentimes, high school students with strong math and science skills are encouraged to pursue university without contemplating other options.
There are many job opportunities in technology that women may not realize — jobs that are rewarding and vital to industries. Specifically, technicians are sought after in various fields including powerlines, manufacturing engineering, motive power, water and wastewater, heating and refrigeration, electrical design, aircraft maintenance technicians, and much more.
Uplifting women students
Motivated by their signing of the Leadership Accord on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion with Electricity HR Canada, Algonquin College developed their initiative, We Saved You a Seat, to increase gender equality in STEM.
They are reserving 30 percent of classroom seats for qualifying women in the Computer Systems Technician, Construction Engineering Technician, Electrical Engineering Technician, Electro-Mechanical Engineering Technician, Mechanical Engineering Technology, and Powerline Technician programs.
“We’re offering women bursaries and entrance awards to help break down financial barriers,” says Kathryn Reilander, a faculty member of Electrical Engineering Technology. “Plus, we’re training our staff on how to establish inclusive learning environments.” In their final semester, students will be paired with industry or community mentors to help them smoothly transition into their professional working life – increasing their likelihood of staying in the field.
Algonquin is promoting inclusion and diversity through their programs and awards because they know their affirmative actions will trickle down industry pipelines. “We want women to know there’s a seat at the table for them in STEM,” Kathryn adds.