Smith Engineering at Queen's has launched a monthly event for women in engineering, alumnae, and industry, designed to continue a commitment to educational innovation in the Faculty by connecting students directly to expert sources of professional advice and lived experience.

“Career Mondays” provides a platform for women students from first year to graduate studies to connect with alumni, receive advice on career and professional readiness, and benefit from insights on how to thrive in a field traditionally dominated by men.

The women-focused events guide a path to the future of the profession and identify means to reach goals that are ambitious and achievable. 

Smith Engineering pledged in its strategic plan to spearhead a revolution in engineering education by implementing substantial and purposeful changes in three critical areas faced by engineering educators worldwide: Research, Engineering Education and Engineering for Everyone.

One objective in the Engineering Education pillar features a number of exciting goals, with a focus on equipping students for successful careers and internships in a changing job landscape, broadening professional development options, and involving Queen's exceptional alumni in work-integrated learning endeavors.

Aligned with this objective, the Queen’s Women in Engineering initiative, led by Chair for Women in Engineering Heidi Ploeg, has joined forces with Engineering Corporate Relations to establish a dedicated space for career development and networking for women students within the faculty.

"Throughout history, women have faced substantial challenges in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics careers, and their presence in these fields remains disproportionately low,” says Ploeg. “According to Engineers Canada, women currently make up approximately 19 percent of registered engineers (P.Eng). Our objective is to increase the participation of women in engineering and improve the retention of those already established in the field. A critical first step in achieving this is for women to see themselves well-represented in the workforce."

The inaugural event in the Career Mondays series took place September 18 and drew over 60 students and six alumnae.




"The experiences and expertise of the alumnae span various sectors, offering students a well-rounded perspective of the engineering landscape,” says Chelsea Elliott, Director of Corporate Relations, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. “We want our women engineering students to hear from seasoned professionals and establish connections early in their careers."

Students had the opportunity to network with distinguished engineering alumnae from diverse industries, each with a wealth of experience. This allowed them to gain valuable insights into the professional world, while also forming meaningful connections with alumni and peers who could potentially shape their future careers.

A heartfelt thank you was extended to the alumnae who attended the inaugural event:

  • Karen Wilson (Sc’96, Materials Engineering) Director of Partnerships – ventureLAB;
  • Ginelle Johnston (Sc’13, Engineering Physics) Vice President of Women in Aerospace;
  • Emma Howard (Sc’20, Engineering Physics) Research and Development Specialist at IPG Photonics;
  • Kathy Sheng (Sc’21, Civil Engineering) Co-Founder of Its Comma; and
  • Erin Peterson (Sc’21, Computer Engineering) Software Developer at Distributive.

"It was an incredibly inspiring event" says Julianna Psaltakis, Smith Engineering Society Director of Professional Development. "Attending the Women in Engineering Career Monday event and hearing from the diverse panelists reassured me of all the opportunities women have in engineering. Although there have been limitations in the past, women are now able to plan for the workforce and build a sense of community right from campus, through events like this. I'm definitely eager for more events like this.”



This article is relevant to the following Strategic Actions as defined in the Strategic Plan:

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