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International Women’s Day 2023: A message from Dr. Charmaine Dean

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March 8, 2023

On the occasion of International Women’s Day 2023, we at NSERC are proud to celebrate the many talented women in science and engineering and their contributions to the advancement of knowledge and innovation in Canada and around the world. As an organization committed to creating a strong and impactful research ecosystem for Canada, we are keenly aware of how indebted Canadians are to the influence of women in research despite an unfortunate imbalance in their representation in fields related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

The Government of Canada’s theme for International Women’s Day 2023 is Every Woman Counts and it is a fitting reminder that women of all ages and from all walks of life have a place in every aspect of Canadian society – especially when it comes to discovery and innovation.

One of the basic guidelines of 21st century scholarship is that a diversity of insights, experiences, disciplines and perspectives enrich the quality of research. Simply put, increasing the number of women in STEM leads to a country that is more innovative, a research community that is more reflective of our society, and a proliferation of new ideas about how to respond to the needs of our citizens.

Since the late 1980s, NSERC has created initiatives that seek to advance women in STEM and they remain cornerstones of our support to this day. One of our proudest legacies is the Chairs for Women in Science and Engineering (CWSE), held by accomplished role models who are recognized leaders in science and engineering. For more than 30 years, CWSE chairholders have provided mentorship and opportunities for Canadian women in STEM. Their successes and experiences have paved the way to NSERC’s more recent work to place equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) at the heart of everything we do as Canada’s largest supporter of discovery and innovation.

NSERC has led efforts with partners at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) to develop and implement the Tri-Agency EDI Action Plan, which seeks to recognize and reduce systemic barriers and biases within the agencies, across institutions and in the research ecosystem as a whole. This plan ensures that the principles of equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility become ingrained in Canada’s research culture. Our recently launched hub highlights NSERC’s actions, programs and policies related to EDI, and provides a tool for the research community, policymakers and other stakeholders to work with us on strengthening the research ecosystem.

NSERC wants all Canadians to see themselves as discoverers and innovators, free of the arbitrary barriers that hold back the talented explorers, visionaries and problem-solvers among us. Today, on International Women’s Day, let’s celebrate and elevate the women in science and engineering around us, and all women, to help create a more innovative and inclusive Canada for today and generations to come.

Dr. Charmaine Dean is Vice-President and Chair of NSERC Council.

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