Women of Impact project highlights importance of diversity


Mary WellsCIM spoke to Mary Wells, president of the Metallurgy and Materials Society of CIM and associate dean of outreach, faculty of engineering, University of Waterloo, to find out what inspired her to start the Women of Impact (WOI) project.

CIM: What was the inspiration to start this WOI project?

Mary Wells: Women make up 50 per cent of the population, but they are under-represented in many science and engineering disciplines. Mining and metallurgy is one of the least gender-diverse sectors, with women currently representing about 15 per cent of technical people. Diversity improves perspective; it gives us the full picture, which vastly increases our chances of producing breakthrough discoveries and innovation.

CIM: What should people expect from their day at WOI?

Mary Wells: People should attend the symposium to meet many of the women leaders in the mining, metallurgy and materials fields in Canada. This symposium will consist of a series of talks and panels focused on profiling these women’s journeys. It will also create an opportunity to discuss the best means to retain and nurture female talent in mining, metallurgy and materials. Participants will consider how retrieving the stories of women scientists and engineers in Canada can help inform current policy-making – both in companies and government agencies. Understanding the different approaches used by women to excel in their careers will help advance knowledge in engineering. I hope that the inspirational stories you hear at the symposium will offer you an exciting new perspective on why women in science and engineering can make an impact and change our profession.

CIM: Why is it important they should attend?

Mary Wells: The need to tap into this under-represented talent pool of women in engineering resonates within government organizations, professional engineering bodies and academic circles. There is an established consensus about the benefits of gender equity and increased diversity in engineering fields as well. One of the main challenges identified by studies on the recruitment and retention of women in engineering continues to be the lack of female role models. There is an essential demand to provide current and future Canadian women in mining, metallurgy and materials with an accurate and inspiring understanding of their past, to record and learn about the lives and efforts of pioneering Canadian women. In their capacity as inspirational leaders and supportive mentors, female role models in engineering are extremely important for attracting more women to these fields and inspiring a new generation of engineering professionals.

CIM: Who should attend?

Mary Wells: Engineering and science students interested in hearing from female leaders in the materials, metallurgy, and mining fields; early career and mid-career professionals and leaders in the materials, metallurgy and mining fields; professionals in government, industry and academia; and human resources professionals in science and engineering organizations should attend.