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Universities form coalitions to address the number of indigenous and black engineering faculty in Ontario at least

Universities form coalitions to address the number of indigenous and black engineering faculty in Ontario at least

Some Black and Indigenous applicants step through the door when the position opens at universities across Ontario, and only match the low number of Indigenous and Black graduate students in STEM subjects, Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Waterloo Says Tizazu Mekoven. .

"Currently, we believe there are fewer than 15 Indigenous and Black engineering faculty members in Ontario," Mechonen said. "This is an atrociously small number in the faculty of more than 1,000 professors in Ontario engineering faculties, and clearly does not reflect our society."

Mequanon confirmed that the province did not supply the "15" figure, as Ontario did not keep track of race data at educational institutions.

“This data point is a specific one, based on our own experiences with faculties and informal discussions with other engineering faculties. We checked with the Council of Ontario Universities (COU) and the Ontario Confederation of Faculty Associations (OCUFA), and they do not currently collect race data - and as such, we could not obtain better data, "he said at IT World Canada for.

To address this gap, six universities in Ontario have partnered to create the Indigenous and Black Engineering and Technology (IBET) Momentum Fellowship to expand the path for Indigenous and Black students pursuing doctoral degrees in engineering. .

Mekonen Waterloo is the coordinator of the IBET PhD project.

The partnership includes the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Ottawa, McMaster University, University of Toronto, Queen's University, Western University and the University of Waterloo Faculty of Engineering and Mathematics. Each partner university will tailor the structure and facilities of the program to support the student experience in its institutions.

The problem is more complicated than we think
Indigenous and Black students come from lower income families than other students. Maconan explains that they are forced to pursue jobs and pursue an academic career instead of finishing their bachelors and staying at school at PhD level to stay longer. Other barriers include absent mentorship opportunities and a lack of role models in their community.

"When you are a First Nations, Inuit, and Métis or Black first year student in engineering or mathematics and you see that your professor sees you with many of the same cultural experiences as you, you are encouraged that you too Can be successful and your presence at that academy is welcome, and your voice is heard, "Mekoven explained." We hope other engineering faculty outside Ontario will also share our concerns and join the association. "

The IBET PhD project includes several layers: Momentum fellowships, mentorship programs, and community-wide support (eg networking).

Each consortium member is set to accept two PhD students (14 students in total) in September 2021. The program will continue for at least another five years, with members of each consortium accepting up to two students per year. But, it could continue even further depending on the financial contributions received from other donors / sponsors, Mekkonen told the publication.

Ontario is not the only problem
Overall, Black professors make up a small proportion of teachers at postcondary institutions in Canada. A 2016 report by the Canadian Association of University Teachers found that only two percent of all university teachers across the country were Black.

A 2019 report from Brookfield Institute says that teachers have lower expectations of Black students, especially when it comes to mathematics. Many underdeveloped minorities are less likely to have strong confidence in their mathematical abilities. Even when Black and Hispanic students major in tech-oriented degrees, they are less likely than their White and Asian counterparts to pursue a technical career. Some suggest coping with the bias of hiring this result, negative perception of work culture, and racism at work.

The same study also shows that "men of color", who voluntarily left tech professions, were the most likely to leave due to perceived unfairness, and about a quarter of underrepresented "men and women of color" "Those who quit tech jobs experienced stereotyping at twice the rate. Their white and Asian counterparts.

"It's about creating opportunities," said Jacques Beauvais, dean of engineering at the University of Oksawa. “There is a clear explanation of black and indigenous leaders in our industry. Our youth and young adults should see themselves as the next generation of leaders in engineering education research. Hence the importance of investing in initiatives such as the IBET PhD project. We believe that this initiative not only makes continuing education more accessible to those who choose to apply, but more importantly, it gets closer to creating a more inclusive environment for our students. . "

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