Debates of the Senate  
  1st Session, 39th Parliament,Volume 143, Issue 103.
    Tuesday, June 5, 2007
Under-Representation of Women in University Faculty Positions in Science and  Engineering
  Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: Honourable senators, the Royal Society of Canada held a conference entitled "Rooms of Their Own" in Edmonton, May 2-4. I had the honour of being one of the plenary speakers. My talk addressed the under-representation of women in university faculty positions in science and engineering.

With the large numbers of male faculty retiring now and in the next few years, it is important to ensure that women are given a fair chance in the hiring process at universities. I refer to the report of the National Academy of Sciences, Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering. I shall list three key findings from this report: First, women are very likely to face discrimination in every field of science and engineering; second, evaluation criteria contain arbitrary and subjective components that disadvantage women women faculty on average are paid less, are promoted more slowly, receive fewer honours and hold fewer leadership positions than men and third, although most scientists and engineers believe they are objective and intend to be fair, research shows that they, like most people, are biased in their evaluations.

In another report, leading brain researcher Baroness Greenfield found that many women in science were bullied. Honourable senators, that certainly was my experience. Like many, I was not sure how to cope with the bullying, but as I thought of my mother my inner strength and determination returned. My mother overcame blatant racism and survived residential school, so there was no way that I was going to let some man push me out of my job simply because I was a woman.

Honourable senators, women have a rightful place in society and in the university academy and ought to be accepted with respect and gender equality. We should be free to say and do what we want without feeling constrained by gender roles or rules, and without fear of being punished for daring to be the women we are meant to be. We are meant to be women who walk tall, walk proud, and walk strong.

Honourable senators, at the conference, I gave a PowerPoint presentation which had pictures of powerful Aboriginal women who are models of beauty and power. You will have to use your imaginations to visualize these two examples, which I will share with you today. My first example was Bear Woman, who has the medicine of healing and strength; and the second example was of our ancestral mothers and grandmothers who walked before us with the medicine of determination.

Honourable senators, women in science and engineering, and all women, should be respected and valued in their homes, their communities and in their workplaces so that they can walk tall, walk proud and walk strong.