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Sarah Gauen

Inclusion & Diversity Specialist, Algonquin College

Research shows that diversity in the classroom benefits all learners.  “When you have different perspectives and ideas coming together, students tend to come up with more innovative, well-rounded solutions to the problem-solving challenges they face in the classroom and in the workplace,” says Sarah Gauen, an Inclusion and Diversity Specialist at Algonquin College in Ottawa.

“We Saved You a Seat” building critical mass for women in technology

Intent on addressing low registration and graduation rates of women in tech programs, Algonquin recently established a three-year pilot program to recruit more women into its four key technology programs: Electrical Engineering Technician, Mechanical Engineering Technology, Electro-Mechanical Engineering Technician, and Computer Systems Technician. Through its “We Saved You a Seat” initiative, the school is reserving 30% of the enrolment spots in these programs for women in order to increase gender diversity in classrooms and to attract more qualified women to non-traditional careers.

The students will be taught by faculty trained to teach in gender-diverse classrooms and will have opportunities to connect with industry mentors. “Gaining that 30% critical mass will ensure women feel they have a place here, and a place working with technology,” says Gauen.

The tech trades offers women access to exciting, high-paying jobs, and the chance to have an impact on society.

“By having a voice, women in tech will not only influence the choices corporations make, but they can also use their unique perspective to help solve societal problems,” says Gauen.

The program also places new focus on support for women once they arrive at the college with the message that, “We’ll welcome you here and help you to succeed.”

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