Debates of the Senate  
2nd Session, 40th Parliament,Volume 146, Issue 18.
  Wednesday, March 11, 2009
International Women's Day

Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: Honourable senators, in recognition of International Women's Day, I would like to say a few words about women in the sciences. In particular, I will highlight the career of Dr. Suzanne Abrams, a brilliant chemist.

Honourable senators, when I was an undergraduate biochemistry student at the University of Saskatchewan in the 1960s, I never had a female professor at all, let alone in the sciences. Today the situation has improved, but we have not yet achieved gender equity, except at the student levels in some sciences.

The large gains in the number of women in the life sciences can be attributed to the efforts of organizations formed in the 1970s and 1980s such as WISEST and WinSETT, which have undertaken activities ranging from science camps for girls to professional development for women engineers.

Equally important are the individual trailblazers, like Dr. Suzanne Abrams, at the National Research Council of Canada Plant Biotechnology Institute in Saskatoon, who, despite the formidable odds, has had a successful career in science and has paved the way for other women to succeed in science.

I congratulate Dr. Suzanne Abrams, who was recently appointed the first female research director at the Plant Biotechnology Institute in Saskatoon. She was also the first woman research scientist on continuing professional staff, and in 1984, when there were no maternity benefits, Sue was the first research scientist on staff to have a baby.

Sue obtained her PhD in synthetic organic chemistry from Dalhousie University and joined the NRC as a Research Associate in 1977. She was promoted to Principal Research Officer in 2000. Sue is an internationally recognized expert in plant hormone research and is a world authority on the chemistry of the plant hormone abscisic acid, a key signalling molecule that regulates growth and development in plants.

Honourable senators, Dr. Abrams is an awesome role model for inspiring girls and women who dream about the chemistry of the world around us, animate and inanimate. She is an inspiration to girls who are curious about how the world works and who are eager to find solutions to scientific puzzles.

Please join me in congratulating Dr. Suzanne Abrams, the first female research director, National Research Council of Canada Plant Biotechnology Institute, Saskatoon.