SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
12 May 2016
Volume 17 Issue 5

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Recognizing Women’s Contribution to Science at the Level of a Regional Chapter: Laurentian SETAC Announces the Women in Science Committee

Oana Birceanu, Ève Gilroy, Shari Dahmer, Natalie Feistahuer, Yamini Gopalapillai, Joel Nichols, Gérald Tétreault, Karen Béchard, Tamzin Blewett, Alison Fraser and Carmela Grande on behalf of the Laurentian SETAC Women in Science Committee

The Laurentian Chapter of SETAC (L-SETAC) recently created a Women in Science Committee (WISC). The committee aims to highlight womens’ achievements, raise awareness of gender disparity in science, and create mentorship opportunities for young scientists, both women and men.

The idea of creating a Women in Science Committee was proposed after the Annual General Meeting (AGM) Committee discussed potential plenary speakers for the annual L-SETAC meeting. Looking back on past AGMs, the committee realized that there was a disparity in the representation of female scientists as plenary speakers: only 37% were women. This made L-SETAC take a closer look at the policies and the process behind the selection of AGM speakers, especially since 70% of their past presidents have been women and the current membership is 58% female. Under the umbrella of SETAC, L-SETAC always strives to host AGM speakers that are representative of the three membership pillars: academia, business and government. However, the written standard operating procedures for selecting speakers never extended beyond that point. Therefore, it became clear that L-SETAC needed to consider gender equality during the decision-making process to ensure that their membership is represented in the best possible way in their programming efforts.

A follow-up discussion with the L-SETAC Board of Directors led to the creation of the Women in Science Committee (WISC) as a joint effort between L-SETAC’s AGM Committee, the Board of Directors and some of their most active members.

In its first few months, the WISC has already been very active:

As for what the future holds, the WISC has several activities planned at their 2016 Annual General Meeting, which will be held on 24 June in Waterloo, Ontario, including:

  • Introduction of the WISC to members
  • Presentation of a poster highlighting the importance of equal gender representation in science
  • Development of a mentoring program at the AGM

In the year to come, WISC will organize a Women in Science event to celebrate some of the amazing women scientists in the scientific community. These individuals are mentors to the younger generation of men and women scientists.

WISC would also like to take this opportunity to encourage all SETAC branches and regional chapters to considered gender representation in their event programming.

For more information on the Laurentian SETAC Women in Science Committee or if you would like to get involved, please visit our committees’ website or contact the WISC co-chairs, Oana Birceanu and Ève Gilroy.

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