University Affairs Speaks With Dean on Women in Engineering

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Mary Wells, dean of the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Guelph

Prof. Mary Wells, dean of U of G’s college of engineering and physical sciences spoke to University Affairs magazine about what’s needed to encourage more women to enter the field of engineering.

While the number of women choosing educations in science fields such as medicine and veterinary science has grown substantially in the last few decades, women make up just 22 percent of engineering undergraduates, according to Engineers Canada.

Wells commented that girls at the high school level tend to favour biology over physics, which she noted is the least popular science course for girls — despite it being a required course to apply to engineering programs.

Wells commented that engineering itself could benefit from more women’s perspective.

“We need big thinkers,” she said. “We have big problems in this world.”

Wells recently wrote an opinion column for the Toronto Star that advocated for engineering education that emphasizes the impact that engineering can have on solutions to humanity’s biggest challenges.

She also helped spearhead a national initiative to honour the victims of the 1989 Montreal massacre, called 30yearslater.ca, which profiled 30 women who have thrived in engineering since that devastating event.