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Rio Tinto Contributes to Changing the World for Women

Renewal of the NSERC Chair for Women in Science and Engineering (Quebec)

Sherbrooke, le 23 septembre 2020 – Thanks to $1M in funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) as well as from various partners and donors, including a major contribution from Rio Tinto, Professor Eve Langelier will be able to pursue the work initiated over the last five years as part of the Chair for Women in Science and Engineering (CWSE).

The CWSE’s mission is to increase women’s participation in science and engineering (SE) through actions aiming for the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women in these fields. To accomplish this, it designs activities for girls and women from the classroom to the boardroom. The Chair also works with their circles of influence, such as the faculty. In parallel, the research team documents the advancement of science and engineering women, and conducts studies to identify and structure the choices they make during their career and shed light on the difficulties they experience.

Women’s participation in science and engineering: Essential for our society

For Professor Eve Langelier, Chairholder of the CWSE since 2015, women’s participation in science and engineering is vital to our society, “Gender equality and diversity in the professions of these fields foster innovation and performance specifically through variety and complementarity of interests, perspectives, and ideas,” she explained.

The Rector of the Université de Sherbrooke, Professor Pierre Cossette, shared the same sentiment stating that the Chair’s work perfectly embodies the institution’s values, “The Université de Sherbrooke wants to be an exemplary environment in terms of equity, diversity, and inclusion. The contribution of the Chair for Women in Science and Engineering is crucial in the actions that lead us in our daily quest for excellence,” he said.

A chair with community engagement

The objectives of the Chair go well beyond the number enrolled in the faculties of science and engineering. “It is one thing to increase women’s representation in science and engineering, but another to support these women throughout their academic path, and even while in employment,” specified Professor Langelier. “To do this, great focus is placed on involving communities, such as schools, universities, student associations, and businesses, to foster the promotion of science and engineering to women and to motivate their recruitment, retention, and progression in these fields. We also obviously want to reach girls directly by presenting them with all of the opportunities offered in science and engineering studies and careers. We are striving to reduce barriers that could hinder their efforts,” she added.

Major donation from Rio Tinto to pursue work

For its next mandate, the NSERC Chair for Women in Science and Engineering can leverage a significant donation from Rio Tinto. Through the Rio Tinto Aluminium Canada Fund, the company has committed to contributing $250 000 over a 5-year period devoted to Professor Eve Langelier’s work. “As partners of the Université de Sherbrooke for over 30 years, we are very proud to get behind this important project aiming to support the advancement of women in science and engineering,” stated Geneviève Latour, General Manager, Communities and Communications, Rio Tinto Aluminium. “As does Rio Tinto, the mining industry needs women’s expertise in engineering, and we strongly believe that the Chair’s activities will have positive impacts on their recruitment and their retention in employment within our industry. We already see results; the more diverse our teams, the more creative and productive they are.”

The Chair will also be able to rely on a major donation from the company Hatch. In addition, it leverages support from other partners, including GE Aviation, the Quebec Mining Association Inc., the Fonds de recherche du Quebec – Nature et technologies (FRQNT), the Fondation canadienne FCSCJ, and the Secrétariat à la condition féminine.

Main highlights of the Chair since 2015:

  • Participation in several events, such as the Women and Girls of Science held at the Montreal Science Centre, and the Les filles et les sciences, un duo électrisant! in the Eastern Townships.
  • Production and broadcasting of four videos series showcasing 38 women role models in SE.
  • Gathering of almost 100 mentors in SE on the Academos social network.
  • Development of several trainings for different audiences, such as an introductory training course on equity, diversity, and inclusion in research and higher education.
  • Publication of the book Diversité des genres en SG : un résumé de la situation des femmes en sciences et en génie [Gender diversity in SE: a summary of the situation in science and engineering] in December 2019. The book is a collection of information sheets related to women’s under-representation in SE with accounts from prominent figures in SE.
  • Annual publication of a statistical report on the progress of women’s enrolments in science and engineering at the college and university levels in Quebec since 2005. The most recent data notably demonstrate a 6% overall increase in women’s representation in bachelor of engineering programs in Quebec from the 2007-2008 year to the 2018-2019 year.

Future projects:

  • Release of research results focused on the impact of co-op placements in science and engineering on student engagement throughout their studies.
  • Interactive and inclusive workshops for elementary and secondary levels, facilitated by women engineering students.
  • The Projet FORCE, which consists of developing additional training activities to teach and equip SE students and professionals, and to support their hosting communities.
  • Creation of a series of manuals to support teaching of the subject matter and approaches emerging from the engineering field, designed for teaching staff and personnel working in science and technology.

About Rio Tinto in Canada

Rio Tinto is the largest mining and metals business operating in Canada today, with more than 15,000 people working at over 35 sites and operations across the country. The company produces iron ore for steel, aluminium for cars and smart phones, titanium for household products, and diamonds that set the standard for responsible. Rio Tinto’s Montreal hub, the headquarters of its industry-leading aluminium business, also supports the Group’s global operations.

About Université de Sherbrooke

The Université de Sherbrooke lies at the centre of one of Quebec’s three major research hubs. Renowned for its sense of innovation, the UdeS is a key partner of regional and senior governments in the promotion of economic, cultural, and social development. It has also garnered a reputation over the years through the strong growth of its research activities, success in technology transfer, and initiatives in entrepreneurship and open innovation in collaboration with industry and social environments.

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Geneviève Lussier, Media Relations Advisor
Communications Department | Université de Sherbrooke
819-821-8000, ext. 65472 |

Simon Letendre, Director, Media Relations – Canada & US
Corporate Relations | Rio Tinto
514-796-4973 |

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