Women in Scholarship, Engineering, Science, and Technology

About Us

WISEST:  Women in Scholarship, Engineering, Science & Technology is a unit of the University of Alberta that has dedicated over 35 years to empowering women in the fields of science, engineering and technology.

Mission and Vision

Our Vision
Empower women in the sciences, engineering and technology.

Our Mission
Engage young women in the sciences, engineering and technology through: hands-on experiences and active participation; mentorship and networking; and outreach and education.

Importance of Women in Science, Engineering, and Technology

Science, engineering and technology are critical to the Canadian economy. Enthusiastic, bright young minds with their diverse outlooks are needed to help these fields grow to their full potential.

Women now comprise slightly more than half of all first-year science students at Canadian universities, up from about 30 per cent two decades ago. But there are still many fewer women than men at the post-graduate level and in decision-making positions in academia and industry.

WISEST programs address this continuing disparity in order to strengthen society by ensuring that diverse voices are being heard in the workplace and in all areas of scholarship.

Our Beginnings

While attending a seminar on microprocessors in early 1982, Dr. Gordin Kaplan, the first University of Alberta Vice-President (Research), noted that there was only one woman among the 150 participants present.

This triggered the formation of WISEST — with a mandate to investigate the reasons why few young women were choosing careers in science and engineering, to take action to alter the situation, and to work to increase the percentage of women in decision-making roles in all fields of scholarship.

Where We Are Now

WISEST collaborates with industry, government, academia, and over 600 volunteers a year to deliver programs and networks that increase the diversity of voices represented in science, engineering and technology, thus strengthening the workplace and society. We have also expanded our programming to pay specific attention to encouraging Indigenous students to pursue their gifts in the sciences.

Our Impact

From the beginning WISEST has been actively involved in investigating how to encourage women to consider careers in science, engineering and technology (SET) related fields and we have adjusted our programs and activities based on this understanding.

In the 35 years since WISEST was formed, its programs have reached more than 15,000 participants.

An in-depth longitudinal study undertaken has shown that 85% of our Summer Research Participants go on to pursue undergraduate degrees in the Faculty of Science or Faculty of Engineering.