The first-year class of engineering students at the University of Toronto is 30 percent women, a record number for both the university and the province.
National numbers, expected later this year, could show University of Toronto as Canada’s most gender-diverse engineering program.
One quarter of the undergraduate population is female, compared to a province-wide average of 19.7 percent and country-wide average of 18.9 percent, the university said in a press release.
In 2013, just 11.7 percent of all professional engineers in Canada were women.
Outreach activities such as a Young Women in Engineering symposium held in October of 2014 and Go CODE Girl, programming classes for girls in grades 9 through 11, have helped reach this level of female undergraduate enrollment, said Dean Cristina Amon.
“Amidst the increasing numbers of women entering engineering programs, there is more work to be done in attracting women to the diverse and rewarding field of engineering,” said Amon. “We have re-imagined engineering education by introducing program innovations, new resources for students and outreach activities to continue to attract an even more diverse range of applicants, including women.”
Rising entrance grade averages for first-year students, which reached a record 92.4 per cent this year, also contributed.
In addition, the number of female faculty members has more than doubled in the past eight years, from 21 in 2006 to 44 in 2014. Seventeen per cent of faculty members are women, which is three points higher than the Ontario average of 14 percent and four points higher than the Canadian average, 13 percent.
In the 2014–15 academic year, women accounted for three of the four new faculty members hired at U of T Engineering, and all three of the Faculty’s 2014 Canada Research Chairs are women.
“Engineering has changed significantly from when I began at U of T several decades ago,” said Professor Susan McCahan, new vice-provost in innovations in undergraduate education and the University’s first female mechanical engineering professor. “It is increasingly recognized as a vibrant and innovative profession: one that encourages broad perspectives and collaboration to drive positive changes that improve our world.”
“It’s exhilarating to be part of such a diverse and talented student community,” said Teresa Nguyen, a fourth-year civil engineering student and president of the Faculty’s Engineering. “At U of T Engineering, it doesn’t matter what your background is—it’s about the ideas, expertise and reasoning you bring to the table.
“My experience at U of T Engineering has been even better than I expected,” said Molly Gorman, a first-year chemical engineering student. “It’s incredible being a part of Canada’s best engineering school—and living in a city filled with so many opportunities!”
“U of T Engineering is a rich environment for talented, bright women to become engineering leaders,” said Amon. “Diverse perspectives are the foundation of our culture of excellence in research, education, service and innovation. This achievement is encouraging as we continue our proactive efforts to foster diversity within the Faculty, among universities and across the engineering profession.”