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Ontario Network of Women in Engineering Case Study: Indicators of Success and Reflections on Lessons Learned

Mary A Wells, Kim Jones, Valerie J Davidson

Abstract


The Ontario Network of Women in Engineering (ONWiE) was formed in 2005 and is a partnership of the 16 Schools and Faculties of Engineering and Applied Science in Ontario—a group that accounts for almost half (44%) of undergraduate engineering students in Canada. The mandate of the network is to advance gender diversity in the engineering profession by encouraging the next generation of women to study and pursue careers in engineering. By sharing resources and effective outreach practices among members, the collective impact of ONWiE has been significant. Since its formation, ONWiE programs have influenced young women, their parents, and community leaders, thus far engaging with over 28,000 participants. Both qualitative and quantitative indicators confirm ONWiE’s efficacy in dispelling stereotypical ideas regarding who can be an engineer, what engineers do, and the globally important role they play. Since 2005, the number of female students applying for engineering programs in Ontario has tripled. This case study highlights key successes, not only in terms of immediate feedback from participants in ONWiE programs, but also its longer-term impacts on gender diversity within undergraduate engineering programs. We also reflect on the lessons we have learned—not least, the factors that have contributed to the success of the collaboration—and the value of linking outreach programs to social science research. 


Keywords


ONWIE, STEM outreach and engagement, collective impact, engineering, physics

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