Principal's Perspective | 08-Mar-2018

Reflections on the Accomplishments of Women

Recently, I had the privilege of being a panelist at a Conference of Independent Schools of Ontario (CIS) Women’s Network event that focused on the role of mentors and networking. Along with Patti MacNicol, chief administrative officer for Upper Canada College, and Martha Perry, principal of St. Clement’s School, I was able to share my experiences with the audience at UCC.

 

One week later, it was International Women’s Day, and I found myself thinking about my own role as an educator and mentor, particularly to young women. Those of us who are fortunate enough to be in a position of leadership have an obligation to help young women build skills, confidence and the ability to reach their potential. This means not only serving as a positive role model, but also actively seeking out and promoting opportunities for female students and colleagues.

 

Speaking more broadly, the creation of a learning environment that is inclusive and supportive of young women is a shared responsibility—and so many of our staff and students have done their part.

 

This past Valentine’s Day, the UTS Outreach Committee organized an awareness-raising display in the front foyer focused on ending domestic violence. The initiative is just one of countless examples of UTS students taking the initiative on issues of equality and social justice.
 

Three students involved in our Youth Participatory Action Research (yPAR) initiative are exploring “How UTS culture may contribute to a culture of silence related to sexual harassment and assault?” In addition, the Gender Equity Committee is organizing a workshop with Deb Singh from the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre/ Multicultural Women Against Rape. Ms Singh runs workshops that encourage discussion with young people about the interconnected issues of consent, identity, and equality.

 

On April 7, UTS hosted the Girls in Tech Conference, which brought together students in Grades 6-8 for a day of workshops in 3D printing, programming, robotics and more. This is the first-ever student-run conference of its kind in Toronto.          

 

Our UTS staff are committed to ensuring that students develop an understanding of barriers to gender equality in many spheres. They also support students to explore female contributions, experiences and perspectives, in a range of disciplines including history, science, mathematics and computer technology. Finally, they regularly support female students to take risks and get involved in fields traditionally dominated by men.     

 

UTS has been a co-ed school for 45 years—long enough to see generations of female alumni go on to make an impact in the world. From Rhodes Scholars like Pooja Kumar ’97 to astronomers like Christine Wilson ’80 and Gurtina Besla ’00, from journalists such as Kate Fillion ’82 to doctors such Meredith Hawkins ’84, from athletes like Laurie Graham ’78 to artists and writers like Catherine Bush ’79, Raphaela Neihausen ’95 and Kat Sandler ’04, the women of UTS have made their mark.
 

It is however important to question our assumptions and to look to data as one measure of our progress as a school. Enrolment in various courses can provide information on our progress. For the 2017-2018 school year registration in a variety of disciplines is revealing and opens up conversations.  




Grade 12 Subject

Female Enrolment %

Male Enrolment%

Visual Art

76%

24%

French

64%

36%

Philosophy

60%

40%

Computer Science

31%

69%

Calculus

52%

48%

Chemistry

52%

48%

Physics

48%

52%

I am proud to celebrate the accomplishments of our female alumni, students and staff—and also committed to the ongoing work of pursuing gender equity.

 

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