the jade project newsletter: editors' page
jade, the official gemstone of bc

The Jade Newsletter is a biannual forum in which to share information
about people and events associated with the Jade Project. The goal of
the Jade Project is to support girls and women, in British Columbia and
the Yukon, who are interested in science and engineering.

Many thanks to our funders, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and General Motors Canada.

  Editor's Opening Remarks - Feb 2009

Anne CondonIt's hard to believe that almost five years have passed since Michele and I launched the Jade Project. As we enter the home stretch, it is gratifying to see the amazing things that are happening in our province.

Our Jade Bridges meeting in December 2008 was generously hosted by our colleagues at U. Victoria. The computer science department there has long stood out, both in terms of the high percentage of female faculty and in the pioneering outreach activities to underrepresented groups by Anissa St Pierre and many others. We were very pleased to meet the new department head, Dr. Sue Whitesides, over dinner. UVic professor Yvonne Coady, well known for being ahead of the curve as a marathon runner, is charging ahead once again on the educational front, with her offering of a first-year programming course at UVic. Thanks to the technological wizardry of student Celina Gibbs, the course is offered live to aboriginal students from the North Island. Good luck with this exciting venture!

WIE anniversary cakeKudos to Anja Lanz, who has won for the second time running the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia (APEGBC) Scholarship. This scholarship recognizes outstanding contributions in advancement of the profession. Anja's talents are now being tapped by UBC's Development Office, to help reconnect with alumni who are women in Engineering. Anja has been working with Lesley Shannon at SFU and others to build a network of women engineering students in the lower mainland.

Kudos also to Pooja Viswanathan, graduate student in CS at UBC, whose smart wheelchair has received lots of media attention in recent months. Pooja has also made great contributions to events for girls and women organized at the departmental and faculty levels, including the Vivien Srivastava career mentoring workshop for graduate students, offered by UBC's Faculty of Science. Congrats to Samantha Leung, who received funding through the Jade Project to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference last fall, and who recently won an Honorable Mention award in recognition of her academic and research achievements from the Computing Research Association. Top graduate schools across North America are now vying to attract her to their programs!

Right as I work on this note on a rare sunny Saturday morning in February in Vancouver, dozens of excited grade six girls are taking computers apart and breaking cryptographic codes as part of the GirlSmarts event at UBC. Thank you to Elan Dubrofsky, April Webster, and all the volunteers who are continuing to make this such a special outreach event. And in Abbotsford at the very same time, 13 teams of teenage girls are honing their computer skills and networking with alumni at the Cuter Computer Challenge, organized by Ora Steyn and her volunteers at the University College of the Fraser Valley.

I'm delighted to report that departments in UBC Science, together with the Dean's office, are taking the lead in providing valuable research support to new moms and dads on our faculty. Funding is now available to help defray costs of graduate student supervision or maintaining a lab during the leave, and even to pay for extra child care while parents are on extended research-related field trips. Five departments have approved their policies, and the other four will be completed soon. These new policies are good news, in the face of several recent studies and books on the difficulties of managing research careers in science and engineering while raising a family. Two of particular note are: "Motherhood, the Elephant in the Laboratory: Women Scientists Speak Out," edited by Emily Monosson (Editor). Cornell University Press (see review), and a recent survey by Mary Ann Mason and Marc Goulden, called "Why graduate students reject the fast track" .

On the topic of books... if you're looking for a little inspiration and can read in French, check out the on-line book, "Les femmes en sciences et en g{e}nie {a} travers l'histoire au Qu{e}bec". Written by the NSERC Chair for Quebec, Dr. Nadia Ghazzali with Melanie Lanouette, the book profiles 37 accomplished women scientists and engineers from the Quebec region.

Please mark your calendars for the Jade Celebration, which will be held on Friday, May 29. This special event will celebrate the incredible accomplishments of all of the people who have lead and participated in Jade-funded projects. It will feature a keynote talk by Maria Klawe, President of Harvey Mudd University and past Dean of Science at UBC, as well as panels that will educate and inspire. Details forthcoming!

Anne Condon