Rideau Club, Ottawa, Ontario
Monday, November 15, 2010, 6:00 p.m.
Honoured guests, ladies and gentlemen. As Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women, it is an honour for me to join you this evening for the opening of this important conference on women's participation in science and engineering.
In recent years, Canadians have become increasingly aware that women's participation in non-traditional sectors like science and engineering is not just vital for the individuals concerned but for our country's future prosperity and quality of life.
Scientific discoveries, engineering advances and new technologies offer solutions to many of our most challenging issues, providing the knowledge and the means to preserve the quality of our environment, improve our health, enhance public safety and security, and manage our natural and energy resources.
Canada cannot succeed in today's intensely competitive, innovation-based global economy without a world-class science and engineering research community. And we cannot achieve such a world-class community without the active participation of female scientists and engineers. That is a basic demographic fact.
As someone who recognizes the worth of women's contributions, I believe women scientists and researchers bring unique and valuable perspectives to their disciplines and to scientific inquiry in general. Canada needs that kind of uniqueness. It is one of our great strengths.
I was pleased this past Friday to announce Government of Canada support for a project to promote women in non-traditional occupations. Through the Women's Program of Status of Women Canada, the WinSETT (Women in Science, Engineering, Trades and Technology) Centre will receive funding for an exciting new project to: increase leadership skills among women already in the science, engineering, trades and technology sector; to attract Aboriginal and immigrant women and girls to these burgeoning fields; and to assist SETT employers to promote diversity in their workplace. The project holds great promise.
However, along with the unique perspectives and contributions that women bring to the fields of science, engineering, trades and technology come unique challenges, challenges that we must all work to reduce, through creative and innovative ideas and approaches.
I commend NSERC and Dr. Fortier for doing their part to encourage women in scientific and engineering careers. I commend you for convening this summit and wish you all luck in breaking down the barriers to success. You inspire others to reach for their dreams.
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