Canadian women have made great strides in the past 102 years, since Harriet Brooks, the first woman nuclear physicist, was born in Ontario, Canada. In light of International Women's Day on March 8th, we pause to celebrate the accomplishments made and, at the same time, we are forced to acknowledge and question those things which may hinder or undermine the quest for equality.|
In 1927, Elsie Gregory MacGill, became the first woman to graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree specializing in electrical engineering. In 1997, dozens of women graduated from the University of Regina with engineering degrees. Last year, Nadine Caron became the first aboriginal woman to graduate from medical school at the University of British Columbia, not to mention, at the top of her class. And last year, Julie Payette became
|the only female astronaut on the Canadian team.|
These historical women give evidence that Canada has made some progress with regard to gender equality. However, they paradoxically show the advancements still needed.
In 1994, Statistics Canada reported that women made up 32% of doctors and dentists, up from 18% in 1982. Recent studies show that female students are matching their male peers in science and math achievement.
And yet in March of last year, the Associated Press reported that Yuri Glaskov, deputy commander of the Gargarin Cosmonaut Training Center, was looking forward to having American Shannon Lucia aboard the MIR space station for several months because "she does excellent work in maintaining systems and organizing things aboard the ship." He went on to say that the ventilation fans, "will be taken
|care of in a more timely manner, because we all know women love to clean." Along with her cleaning ability, Lucia is a pilot who has a Ph.D., a biochemist, bilingual, a five time veteran of the space shuttle, experienced satellite deployer and wife and mother of three.|
Women face obstacles in education, discrimination in career advancement, social pressures, and stereotypes. In the University environment, students, faculty and administration should all take responsibility to ensure and enforce gender equality. On March 6th, the Women's Mosaic celebrated women's achievements while the monitors around the University exploited a woman in a bikini on L.A.N. T.V.
On the one hand women were being celebrated for something more than their bodies while, on the other, a woman was being exploited down the hall.