“Gender equality is not a women’s issue; it is a human issue. It affects us all.” – Malala Yousafzai

GenEQ – the Gender Equity and Excellence Through Leadership initiative – was launched earlier this year with the goal of advancing the status of women and under-represented gender groups across the University of Guelph.

“When we help women, and all those who identify as women, reach their full potential, we not only lift them up, but we also lift up our entire institution,” says Charlotte Yates, provost and vice-president (academic), and the driving force behind GenEQ.

The GenEQ initiative launched earlier this year and now has a web presence at uoguelph.ca/genderequity.

This multi-phase initiative will bring together community members from across the University to discuss and shape gender equity at U of G. It will involve research to understand gender-based imbalances and create real and lasting change at U of G, says Yates.

“Equity and excellence go hand in hand. The GenEQ initiative enhances the capacity of our academic community to improve life. By embracing institutional change in the pursuit of equity, the University of Guelph will once again lead other institutions in its pursuit of knowledge.”Participants reading quotes and ideas on GenEQ wall at launch event

We all have a role in gender equity

Members of the U of G community will have opportunity to support the initiative through working groups, campus conversations, visiting speakers and leadership development.

Those who identify as male can not only support gender equity but also benefit from it.

“Gender equity isn’t just for women, by women,” says Martha Harley, associate vice-president (human resources), who is working with Yates to lead the initiative.

“This initiative needs the involvement and energies of everyone in our community. The partnership and commitment of men, women and those in under-represented groups are critical to ensure the enrichment of programs that will benefit everyone.”

Leading change

Since the launch, post-doctoral fellow Alexandra Rodney has been hired to provide advice and research support. Rodney says, “I am ecstatic to be part of this project because we are positioned to make impactful, systemic changes at the University of Guelph that will be a model for other universities.

“Academic systems suffer when gender equity is lacking. By advocating for social justice at all levels of the University’s academic and administrative structures on campus, we are working to make the University of Guelph a healthier place for all to learn and work.”

The Gender Equity and Excellence Through Leadership advisory committee is co-chaired by Prof. Belinda Leach, associate dean of research and graduate studies for the College of Social and Applied Human Sciences, and Michelle Fach, director of Open Learning and Educational Support.

For more information, visit uoguelph.ca/genderequity, or email GenderEquity@uoguelph.ca to share your thoughts and sign up for updates about the initiative.