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McMaster Engineering Professor named ONWiE chairMarch 8, 2018

A McMaster University professor has been appointed as the new chair of the Ontario Network of Women in Engineering (ONWiE).

Kim Jones, an associate professor in Chemical Engineering, will assume the role on July 1, 2018.

Formed in 2005, ONWiE is a network of 16 schools of engineering from across Ontario, inspiring young girls to pursue careers in engineering and supporting current female engineers and students.

The organization co-ordinates programs for youth, such as Go ENG Girl and Go CODE Girl, which allow female students to explore topics related to engineering and technology in a confidence-building hands-on environment.

Jones is a seasoned diversity champion. She served as a McMaster Engineering Faculty Leadership Fellow from 2016 to 2017 with a focus on improving diversity. As a Fellow, Jones introduced a writing group for female faculty members, secured parking for those who are pregnant or on parental leave, worked to better understand the needs of underrepresented groups, supported women in engineering student groups and organized workshops for female faculty members. 

As well, Jones is the chair of the Women in Engineering Committee, which supports female faculty members.

“This gives me the opportunity to affect a lot more people,” Jones said of her new role. “The two things that I think are most important are really working collaboratively with all the other universities to reach everyone and making sure that we are all going toward a common goal instead of working in isolation. This is already happening and I’d like to make it happen even more. The more we can reach out and solve this problem together the more successful we’re likely to be.”

As ONWiE chair, Jones said she hopes to foster closer collaboration between institutions, support curriculum for high school physics teachers, and continue research on what barriers women face within the engineering profession.

“I also want to think more deeply about who are the women in engineering,” Jones said. “Are we in fact reaching a cross section of society?”

Jones credited the work of former ONWiE chairs, Mary Wells, Dean of Engineering at the University of Guelph, and Valerie Davidson, a McMaster Engineering alumna and founding chair of ONWiE, for paving the way. 

“The role of ONWiE chair is a unique leadership position,” said Davidson, a professor emeritus of engineering with the University of Guelph. “I know Kim will do a great job. She has the communication skills, enthusiasm and focus that the role requires.”

McMaster Engineering Dean Ishwar K. Puri said it’s an honour for the Faculty to be engaged with an organization that connects Ontario post-secondary institutions on a common and important issue.

“ONWiE belongs to Ontario, and ultimately it is a role model for Canada and the world,” Puri said. “We recognize the momentum that the engineering profession and engineering schools have to improve diversity, and we take this responsibility at McMaster with humility and with a profound sense of responsibility.”

 Learn more about McMaster’s Women in Engineering initiatives.