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Canadian WISE Groups
Here's a place to discuss the answers to some interesting questions about what kind of role men can play in our organizations, or how they can help improve the situation for women in science and engineering. One of the keys to succeeding in improving the situation for women in science and engineering is getting the guys involved - without their support, things cannot improve.
How can the guys make the women feel more accepted/comfortable in the field?
This was an actual question asked by one of the men at NCWIE 2008 and one that many guys would probably love insight into. Add your stories/comments/suggestions to the list!
Carleton's WISE hosted a talk in November 2008, where we invited Carleton's first female president to talk on the theme of Inspiring Women. One of her stories was about how she started out as a math major, but felt like nobody would even know if she had died and stopped showing up to class. On the other hand, a French professor she had at the same time really encouraged her to major in French. That teacher (I can't recall if they were male or female) made her feel like a person, and that if she disappeared, that it would go noticed. She suggested that had anyone actually
about her existence in the math classes, she might have continued on that path. Instead, she switched majors, and forever continued on the path of studying French. She was quite successful in her new field - but who knows what wonderful contributions and difference of opinions she may have given to math as someone with a different perspective?
The moral of the story is that by acknowledging the women, saying hi, maybe asking if they need any help (in a non-condescending way!), you may make her feel like she matters. For some, this could be the key to staying in a field despite being a minority.
How should we handle discrimination issues when certain events are really just for the girls?
As pointed out during NCWIE 2008, some events really are meant to be just for the girls, but certain policies might prevent us from actually stopping guys from coming. But if guys show up when the women believe they are going to have a safe, female only environment to discuss sensitive issues (or whatever), they may feel let down or somehow deceived.
Carleton's WISE has generally had success of marketing events appropriately (there are some that are meant to be open, and others that we wanted to be girls only). Even just sending email to our own mailing list and not advertising anywhere else made a big difference for the more restricted events.
What is a guy's perspective on women in the field?
(Written by a guy)
I don't know any guy out there who isn't fully supportive of a woman's role in the field. In fact, many of us want to know how we can help women feel more comfortable and accepted. It's no secret that we are not always as perceptive as we could be about women! We do our best but sometimes we need some help.
Your experiences and feelings are important to us. They help us guys understand situations where we can adapt our behaviours so that learning and working in the field is an exciting and rewarding experience for you.
So keep the lines of communication open with us. Let us know the good and the bad. Tell us what you think we could be doing to help you. Tell us when things went just right. Guys care and we're always willing to help if you need it.
A Few WISE Men
By Heine Mar, a male engineering student at Carleton University
You may have already seen the movie “A Few Good Men”. Basically, it is about one man who will stop at nothing to keep his honor and to find the truth in a courthouse of the U.S. government. The movie has nothing to do with engineering or science. In fact, it is about military law… but the movie is a perfect analogy for why men and women should consider participating in Women in Science and Engineering (WISE).
As you are about to graduate and become a professional engineer, it is critical to keep your honor, especially in the field of equity. We have come a long way in history. As you may have noticed, in the past, women in some parts of the world were not allowed to go to school, to obtain professions or to achieve equal pay. Today transformations are taking place in various countries and institutions in order to provide women with equal opportunities to men. WISE plays a vital role in that transformation, helping support women in male dominated fields, ensuring their needs are met, and giving them a chance to hang out with other women going through similar things.
As professional engineers, it is our duty to our colleagues and the engineering profession. I am not a professional engineer, yet. However, I try my best to assist my colleagues and the engineering profession. In September 2008, one of my engineering colleagues introduced me to CU-WISE. I thought it was a great organization and I felt that I could add value to their team. I thought to myself: I could learn some valuable lessons from them. As a result, I joined CU-WISE. Since then, I began to see engineering from different perspectives. For instance, I learned about women’s health and their needs in order to design a medical device in the form of a bra known as the ‘tBra’ for early breast cancer detection.
In the global marketplace, it is essential to promote equal education and opportunity for both men and women in order to gain competitive advantages. I urge you to participate and promote Women in Science and Engineering. CU-WISE is for everyone. You can make a difference. “Yes, you can!”
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