The University of Northern British Columbia is working towards equity, dignity, and respect for all genders in the north.
The second annual “Inspiring Women Among Us” initiative kicked off Thursday morning to celebrate the contribution of women with on campus events over the next two weeks.
Speakers talked about ensuring women continue to stay inspired and safe when pursuing an education in the sciences or job opportunities in the north. UNBC Student and Event Coordinator, Krystal Devauld says the focus is on gender equality. “It’s important to have events like this to draw awareness to those challenges and then to further cultivate that support so that women do feel like they can go into math and engineering and feel comfortable,” Devauld said. “We want them to be doctors, we want them to be nurses, but the other side of that is exposing that men can do whatever they want to.”
UNBC Professor in the Ecosystem and Science Program, Annie Booth noted that women need a fair and equitable representation in the academic world. “When I was hired back in 92 and 93, we were pretty much a 50/50 male-female range of sexual preferences and ethnicity,” she said. “At this point however last year when I check the statistics, we’re down to only 32-33% female faculty, it’s not that we haven’t discriminated, it’s that we haven’t paid attention and if you don’t actively pay attention, you can start to slide.”
Booth added that about 60 per cent of students attending Canadian universities are females and need to have support from their colleagues. “An increasing number of women are of colour, lesbian, bi-sexual, non-denominational, non-binary, and increasingly I think they need someone to aspire to,” Booth said. “I think you have to reinforce that you too can inspire and it doesn’t really matter what you are, it matters who you want to be.”
Inspiring Women Among Us consists of 40 free public events including workshops, speeches, and movie screenings for the next two weeks.
The celebration will finish on November 30th – the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women – for a solemn ceremony at UNBC’s Winter Garden.