Media Releases

U of T Engineering celebrates record number of female first-year students

January 28, 2015

TORONTO, ON – Women now account for 30.6 per cent of first-year students in engineering programs at the University of Toronto: a record for U of T’s Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering and a number that surpasses all other Ontario universities.

U of T Engineering is the only engineering school in Ontario with female first-year enrolment of more than 30 per cent. National figures are expected later this year from Engineers Canada.

“U of T Engineering is a rich environment for talented, bright women to become engineering leaders,” says Dean Cristina Amon. “Diverse perspectives are the foundation of our culture of excellence in research, education, service and innovation. This achievement is encouraging as we continue our proactive efforts to foster diversity within the Faculty, among universities and across the engineering profession.”

Today, one quarter (25.8 per cent) of U of T Engineering’s undergraduate population is female, compared to a province-wide average of 19.7 per cent. Across Canada and the United States last year, those averages were 18.9 per cent and 19.9 per cent respectively. The Faculty’s targeted recruitment efforts have been successful, with female undergraduate enrolment up from 21.3 per cent just six years ago, alongside rising entrance grade averages for first-year students that reached a record 92.4 per cent this year.

“It’s exhilarating to be part of such a diverse and talented student community,” says Teresa Nguyen, a fourth-year civil engineering student and president of the Faculty’s Engineering Society (which elected its first female president in 1975). “At U of T Engineering, it doesn’t matter what your background is—it’s about the ideas, expertise and reasoning you bring to the table.”

As a leader in engineering education and research, U of T Engineering continues to attract world-class faculty. The complement of female faculty members has more than doubled in the past eight years, from 21 in 2006 to 44 in 2014. Seventeen per cent of faculty members are women, which is three points higher than the Ontario average (14 per cent) and four points higher than the Canadian average (13 per cent).

These numbers are expected to grow in the years ahead, as early-career faculty members move up in the academic ranks. More than a quarter (27.8 per cent) of U of T Engineering’s associate professors (early-career, tenure-stream faculty members) are now women, compared to an Ontario average of 15 per cent and a national average of 15.7 per cent.

In the 2014-15 academic year, women accounted for three of the four new faculty members hired at U of T Engineering. In addition, all three of the Faculty’s 2014 Canada Research Chairs are women; read more about U of T Engineering’s newest professors and Canada Research Chairs

“Engineering has changed significantly from when I began at U of T several decades ago,” says Professor Susan McCahan, vice-provost, innovations in undergraduate education, who was the University’s first female faculty member in mechanical engineering. “It is increasingly recognized as a vibrant and innovative profession: one that encourages broad perspectives and collaboration to drive positive changes that improve our world.”

“Amidst the increasing numbers of women entering Engineering programs, there is more work to be done in attracting women to the diverse and rewarding field of engineering,” says Dean Cristina Amon. “We have re-imagined engineering education by introducing program innovations, new resources for students and outreach activities to continue to attract an even more diverse range of applicants, including women.”

As of 2013, women accounted for just 11.7 per cent of all professional engineers in Canada, according to Engineers Canada. Growing numbers of female engineering students signal a promising future for gender balance in the profession.

READ MORE:

—U of T Engineering offers many outreach programs that aim to inspire girls and young women. In 2015, more than 560 female participants and 20 female instructors will take part. Read brief summaries of the many outreach programs at U of T Engineering: http://uoft.me/eng-outreach

—Learn more about women in engineering at U of T through a short timeline: http://uoft.me/women-eng-timeline

—Find references for all reported statistics on our website: http://news.engineering.utoronto.ca/record-female-first-years

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For further information:

Media contacts:

Elizabeth Raymer
Communications & Media Relations Officer, Special Projects
Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering
University of Toronto
416-978-1226
elizabeth.raymer@utoronto.ca

RJ Taylor
Communications & Media Relations Strategist
Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering
University of Toronto
416-978-4498
rj.taylor@utoronto.ca