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U of T joins initiative to increase diversity in engineering

Commitment made at first White House Demo Day

At White House Demo Day, 92 U.S. and Canadian engineering schools committed to increase the representation of women and underrepresented minorities in the profession (photo by Sara Collaton).

The Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering has joined more than 90 North American engineering schools in a pledge to boost diversity in the student body, faculty and profession.

The commitment is expressed in a letter released by the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) on the occasion of the first White House Demo Day, a gathering of innovators and entrepreneurs at which U.S. President Barack Obama made annoucements and met several exhibitors personally.

U of T was one of two Canadian universities included in the promise to recruit more women and underrepresented minorities and foster a culture of inclusivity in engineering.

“U of T Engineering is committed to encouraging and increasing diversity among our students, our faculty, our programs and the engineering profession,” said Dean Cristina Amon, a signatory to the letter. “Diverse perspectives deepen the engineering creative process, driving innovation and bringing superior approaches to address critical global challenges and enrich our lives.

U of T Engineering is a leader in Canada in fostering gender diversity. In 2014, women made up 30.6 per cent of the Faculty’s first-year engineering class – the highest proportion of any entering engineering class in Canada. (Learn more about women at U of T Engineering)

Released as part of the ASEE Year of Action in Diversity, the letter requires participating schools to develop and implement a diversity plan that commits to equity and includes training in implicit bias. Schools are also expected to organize at least one kindergarten-to-Grade 12 (or community college) “pipeline” activity, such as targeted recruitment or educational outreach, and forge partnerships with non-PhD granting engineering schools serving populations underrepresented in engineering.

Earlier this year, the Faculty was the only Canadian engineering school to join a related U.S. initiative to prepare undergraduates to solve “Grand Challenges” – complex yet achievable goals related to health, security, sustainability and quality of life. The program was presented in a letter to Obama. (Read more)

Read the Diversity Letter on the White House website.