The proportion of women in the incoming class at Waterloo Engineering this fall hit 30 per cent for the first time ever.
As of Nov. 1, the official count date for reporting to the Ontario Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development, 474 of 1,580 new undergraduate students in engineering programs were female – exactly reaching the 30-per-cent milestone.
“Waterloo Engineering has made a really strong commitment to creating a healthy and progressive environment,” said Catherine Burns, a systems design engineering professor at Waterloo. “This clearly shows it is paying off.”
The proportion of women entering engineering in 2017 is up only marginally from just over 29 per cent last year, but it is fully twice the 15-per-cent figure recorded as recently as 2005.
A Women in Engineering (WiE) committee at Waterloo has been working for more than 25 years to encourage females to take advantage of all of the opportunities the profession offers.
Its outreach programs target more than 1,500 elementary and high school girls a year. Included are girls’ clubs, Go ENG Girl events, conferences, learn-to-code days and engineering skills badges for Girl Guides.
The committee also pairs incoming women with upper-year mentors and opened a new living-learning community at the St. Paul’s University College residence this fall for about 50 first-year female students.
Burns, a spokesperson for WiE initiatives at Waterloo, said the steady progress made through such programs is creating momentum.
“As the numbers grow, it only improves role models and mentoring,” she said. “Students coming in or thinking about coming to Waterloo can see more females who are progressing through their education here.”