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Our Giving Story: Cynthia and Yves Bled

With a 60-year marriage and a shared passion for giving back, Cynthia and Yves Bled are dedicated to helping female students pursue an engineering career

They met as graduate students at the University of Toronto and married soon after. Each pursued a successful career in academia: Cynthia as a professor of economics and a school board trustee, and Yves as a professor of anthropology and then dean of students.

They shared a love of travel, collecting art and artifacts from their world travels. They also share a deep commitment to giving back: They have set up scholarships at many universities, including McMaster where they have created the Yves and Cynthia Bled Future Achievers Scholarships for Women in Engineering.

Why engineering? “We are very focused on engineering as the discipline that continues to lag behind in gender parity,” says Cynthia, a recipient of a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. “We feel it is important to encourage women to pursue careers in STEM.”

Why McMaster? “It’s the reputation of the university and its strengths in engineering and science,” says Yves. “We believe this scholarship will create a real impact, helping female engineers to study at McMaster.” The couple has also remembered Mac in their estate plans to ensure the scholarship will exist in perpetuity.

“McMaster Engineering is highly committed to advancing diversity in engineering, and we are very grateful to the Bleds for their support,” says Ishwar Puri, dean of the Faculty of Engineering. “A key aspect of our latest initiative, The Pivot, is to prepare our students to work in diverse, multicultural teams, and we are very proud to have exceeded 35 per cent female enrolment in fall 2019.”