In matters of the global agenda, this month gender equity climbed to the top of the heap.

Marking continued progress in efforts towards gender equity, Gender Summit made history with its first ever visit to Canada. Held in Montréal from Nov. 6-8, the event saw the conglomeration of nearly 600 gender advocates across the fields of science, innovation, and development. Among those present was Feridun Hamdullahpur, president of the University of Waterloo.

The theme of this year’s summit was “embracing pluralism and thriving through diversity – shaping science and innovation.”

As the president of the University of Waterloo, one of the world’s leading institutions in innovation and a University IMPACT Champion for the UN’s HeForShe IMPACT 10x10x10 movement, Hamdullahpur spoke on a panel regarding successful initiatives that have been implemented to promote women’s advancement in STEM.

“Decades of research show that the more diverse teams are, the better the outcomes that can be achieved, and the greater the ability of those teams to drive innovation,” Hamdullahpur said, in response to an interview from Imprint.

As for the university itself, efforts will continue in the areas of commitments set by the HeForShe IMPACT 10x10x10 framework, the likes of which include initiatives to increase female participation in STEM fields, build upon female faculty representation, and attract female leaders into senior academic and administrative positions at the university.

According to data collected in these initiatives, UW has not only made significant progress in each of these fields, but either surpassed or is on the cusp of achieving its goals.

Hamdullahpur also commented on the university’s creation of a space maker program, which aims to include all aspects of human identity on campus. The initiative has so far succeeded in implementing gender neutral washrooms across campus, and now continues work on the Canada Research Chairs gender equity plan.

Other topics of discussion included the role of LGBTQ2 perspectives in strengthening research, perspectives of gender equity and diversity within the industrial sector, gendered innovation, and an exploration of gender and reconciliation within Canadian Indigenous communities.

The summit concluded with a synthesis session, in which speakers presented action items to be pursued by private and public sector actors alike.

“[The University of] Waterloo is continuing its efforts to create an environment in which everyone feels included and that they feel that they can thrive regardless of race, religion, gender, or sexual identity,” Hamdullahpur said. “These are values that we are looking to instill on our campus and in our students so they can influence the environment at Waterloo and beyond.”

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