CFUW-Stratford hosted two guest speakers form Conestoga College on January 24th at the University of Waterloo, Stratford Campus.
Julia Biedermann Executive Dean, School of Engineering and Information Technology, Trades and Apprenticeship and the Institute of Food Processing Technology, Conestoga College
Brenda Gilmore, Program Manager, School of Trades and Apprenticeship
Julia Biedermann began the presentation with an introduction of Conestoga College, which includes four campuses that provide programs in pre-apprenticeships, apprenticeships for 3000 students, or provide certificates, diplomas, advanced diplomas, degrees, or graduate certificates for 4000 students, and employs more than 180 full-time professors.
Within engineering, technology and trades (ETT), there have been notable increases in female representation over the past ten years. In engineering, enrollment of female students rose from 11.3% of the student body to 12.5% from 2007-8 to 2015-16. In the same time frame, it rose from 9.5% to 14.5% in Information technology (IT) and from 5.1% to 4.6% in trades. She then played a video aimed at high school girls to encourage them to consider careers in ETT.
Brenda Gilmore then spoke about the outreach programs at Conestoga, which target either Grade 7-8 girls or Grade 11-12 girls. For the younger girls, Conestoga offers Day with a Difference, Trades and Technology Day, and Skills Canada- Ontario summer camps at their campus. The former involve workshops at the College together with informative sessions for the girls’ parents, since stereotypes must be addressed to parents as well. In addition, there are competitions (Go ENG Girl and Go CODE Girl) to encourage participation in engineering and technology. The high school programs include Networking dinners through Skills Canada- Ontario and a Jill of All Trades event, which consists of 200 high school girls invited to participate in three of twelve possible workshops, mentored by graduate students and faculty to encourage enrollment in ETT at Conestoga.
Women in Skilled Trades (WIST)is a program targeting young unemployed women to take an EI-sponsored eight week course in carpentry to prepare them for apprenticeship. This program has an 80% placement rate after graduation. The Women in Trades and Technology (WITT) offers opportunities in mentorship, ETT for women (ETT4W) events and 160 student awards.
From a 2011 survey, there are reportedly 1.5 million job vacancies in the trades, and 20% of skilled tradespersons are over the age of 55. Only 28% of trade certificates are held by women. However, women aged 25-34 hold 23% of the engineering degrees. Women hold 53% of all degrees granted, but only hold 32% of the degrees in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), but mostly in the medical and biological sciences. The tide is turning, albeit slowly. Women constitute 64% of the student body at Conestoga College and seven of the eleven management positions in ETT are held by women.
The future goal of ETT at Conestoga is continue outreach and activities to increase the female student body to 20% by 2020.
Mary Jane Amey thanked Brenda Gilmore and Julia Biedermann for their interesting presentation, noting that they wished their honorarium to go to the Conestoga ETT awards fund.