Creating a community for women in science

April 16 marked an important day for women working in science and mathematical fields in Waterloo region, as the Wilfrid Laurier University senate approved the development of The Centre for Women in Sciences.

The centre will open this fall and reach out to Laurier and the rest of the community. With Waterloo being “a part of the Technology Triangle” there is a lot of potential for the centre to thrive and build strong connections.

“The mission of the centre is to create a community for women in science that brings together not just women in the Laurier community but also others who are in the region,” said Shohini Ghose, the professor who will head the program.

The centre will be a hub that works to connect students with faculty across the different sectors of the sciences and those studying gender issues in the science community.

“Typically those social scientists are not talking to natural scientists,” Ghose explained. “It connects those two groups and that could lead to new collaborations and new initiatives.”

“There are certain areas of science, where the proportion of women is still pretty low,” added Ghose, noting that this was a main factor in creating the centre.

It will also aim to “develop mentoring at work and establish connections” between women in the sciences and different faculty and community leaders.

Other institutions in the region have already shown support for the creation of the centre including the Perimeter Institute, Conestoga College, the University of Waterloo as well as, according to Ghose, other companies that have expressed interest to collaborate.

But it is not only institutions that have shown an interest in the centre. Students also have something to look forward to as a student committee within the centre is being developed.

“I hope that this will also be student driven,” Ghose shared.

Students will have the chance to make connections and be a part of events but with their personal involvement there will be the possibility of student run workshops and conferences.

Over the next three years the university will be funding the centre to get it started, but then will apply for government grants and external funding from various companies and groups.

As the Centre for Women in Sciences at Laurier grows, Ghose said the main focus will be “communication and getting the word out as well as raising the profile of women and community in general.”

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