May 2006

Women in Engineering Advisory Group

The engineering profession, and society at large, can benefit from the unique attributes, styles, and ways of thinking that women bring into the engineering profession. That is why the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers (CCPE), through its Women in Engineering Advisory Group (WIEAG), provides a forum for information sharing on the important topics of attracting women to and retaining women in the engineering profession.

Most of the provinces and territories have a committee or group that actively works to increase the number of women entering and staying in the engineering profession. WIEAG is comprised of members from CCPE's 12 associations/ordre (including representatives from the Women In Engineering committees), the National Science Engineering and Research Council (NSERC) Chairs for Women in Science and Engineering, and a representative from the National Council of Deans of Engineering (NCDEAS).

Members communicate through regular conference calls and meet on a bi-annual basis to collectively develop new ideas and exchange information on current and planned activities.

"WIEAG is a mechanism for communicating information on the importance of establishing a diverse engineering profession that is reflective of Canada's gender demographics," explains Lisa Anderson, P.Eng., Chair.

At the national level, the group continually monitors outreach activities on a range of Canadian and international organizations, and supports the Canadian Coalition of Women in Engineering, Science, Trades and Technology project to increase the participation of women in these fields.

While women comprise slightly over 50 percent of the overall Canadian population, and over 55 percent of university undergraduate students, females are significantly underrepresented in the engineering profession, and in university engineering programs.

Statistics also show that comparatively fewer female students are choosing to enrol in engineering. In 2001, female enrolment in engineering undergraduate programs dipped slightly below the 20 per cent mark to 19.7 per cent and in 2003 the percentage dropped further to 19 percent. Since the late 1990's, the number of female students enrolling in their first year of study dropped to just under 16 percent in 2003. This is a decrease of more than four percent from the high noted several years prior.

The drop in female student enrolment is a source of concern for organisations like CCPE and its Women in Engineering Advisory Group, who are actively involved in encouraging women to pursue engineering as a career choice.

"As a proud supporter of WIEAG, CCPE strongly advocates encouraging diversity in the profession, including attracting a greater number of females into engineering," says Marie Lemay, P.Eng., ing., CCPE's Chief Executive Officer.

"Engineering is guided by the principles of ethics and equity and we appreciate WIEAG's work in ensuring diversity in our profession," Ms. Lemay states.

For more information on CCPE's involvement with women in engineering initiatives, please visit the Women In Engineering section of CCPE's Web site at www.ccpe.ca

Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Newfoundland and Labrador



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