Last night, Hamilton held the 2015 YWCA Women of Distinction Awards and I won in the Sciences, Trades and Technology category. It was totally overwhelming and I feel so grateful to be chosen among some really awesome and inspiring women researchers. On top of that, the award category was sponsored by McMaster University and so I was presented with my award by Dr. Allison Sekuler, the AVP and Dean of Grad Studies, and a professor in Psychology, Neurosciences and Behaviour, where I am an Associate Member. It was so nice to receive this award from a female researcher that I greatly admire.
I didn’t do a long list of thank you’s in my speech, deciding instead to talk about the lack of recognition of women in STEM fields. The news this week that two leading female researchers resigned from the selection committee for the Hall of Fame at the Canadian Museum of Science and Technology was foremost in my mind. Two years running and not a single female nominee? Just ponder that a moment. The researchers in question have made suggestions for how the process can be changed to encourage female nominees but changes do not appear to have been made. Indeed, Dr. Judy Illes has been quoted in the CBC as saying “To have zero women two years in a row signifies a failure on our part to really reach out as needed.” I thank her for these words, for she is correct, we need to urge institutions to be inclusive. I find it troubling that the museum seems to think that the root cause is too few women in STEM. I disagree with this idea and firmly believe that if there are women in STEM, there are excellent women to be recognized.
I would like to thank my nominator and colleague, Dr. Robin Cameron, and those that submitted support letters for my nomination. I appreciate that you spent time nominating me! Above is a picture of me, with just a few of the amazing women in Biology who shared such a special evening with me!