Office of the President
Andrew Petter, President and Vice-Chancellor
Petter's Perspective: Notes from the President
A day to celebrate and support the role of women
March 8 is International Women’s Day – a day both to celebrate the achievements of women and to raise awareness about the inequality that women continue to suffer at home and around the world.
At SFU, we have taken and continue to introduce measures to counter such inequality, and to promote the success of women throughout the university and the communities we serve.
We can be proud of the fact that, in 1974, SFU was the first Canadian research university to appoint a woman president, Pauline Jewett. Today, we have strong representation of women on our Board of Governors, including a woman chancellor and board chair. In addition, almost half of our executive team, and more than half of our deans, are women.
The talent and commitment of these and other women at all levels of our organization contribute to SFU’s success as a top Canadian employer and as Canada’s leading comprehensive university.
However there is still much work to be done.
In 2018, the Provost established the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, led by Special Advisor Kim Hart, to provide guidance to the university on governance, equity and inclusion issues. University-wide consultations are now underway, and faculty, staff and students are encouraged to participate in a Let’s Listen, Talk, and Reflect community conversation.
We have in recent years implemented a Sexual Violence and Misconduct Prevention, Education and Support Policy and established a Sexual Violence Support & Prevention Office. And we have developed an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan for the Canada Research Chairs Program.
Another important initiative has been SFU’s Emerging Thought Leaders Program offered by Shari Graydon of Informed Opinions, which provides workshops, coaching and other support to help academic women build their profiles and have their voices heard. In addition, the university has partnered with Informed Opinions to host the Gender Gap Tracker, which uses big data analytics to measure gender inequality in Canadian news sources, and to close this persistent gap.
SFU is also a mobilizer of Women Deliver, a global advocacy movement that champions gender equality and the health and rights of women and girls in Canada and around the world. From June 3 – 6, SFU will participate in the 2019 Women Deliver Conference in Vancouver – the largest of its kind – and will be organizing a number of events leading up to this event.
And, in celebration of International Women’s Day, members of the SFU community are participating in various events, including:
- A panel discussion entitled Women’s Economic Empowerment and Equal Opportunity, moderated by Associate VP External Relations Sobhana Jaya-Madhavan and featuring thought leaders from diverse sectors (SFU Surrey, March 8, 3:30 – 6:30 pm).
- An Advancing Women in STEAM conference featuring Governor General Julie Payette, FCAT Dean Aoife MacNamara, Director of Entrepreneurship Sarah Lubik, and Denise Williams of the SFU Board of Governors. (Anvil Centre, March 8, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm).
- A Women in Science, Health and Innovation: Leadership Looking To The Future conference at the Wosk Centre for Dialogue, featuring SFU engineering professor and NSERC Chair for Women in Science and Engineering Lesley Shannon. (Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue, March 7, 6:30 pm- 9:30 pm)
Many other individuals are doing important work on campus, such as the SFU Academic Women who support equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives, while helping to nurture and create supportive campus environments for all members of the community.
On International Women’s Day, and every day, talented women across SFU, and across Canada, are breaking down barriers, raising awareness, and inspiring others to advance the inclusion and success of women and girls. It is our responsibility to support and celebrate their efforts, while continuing the work to create a more fair, equitable and inclusive society for all.