Yukon College’s Alison Anderson selected to champion STEM diversity in territory

(L-R) Dean of Applied Science & Management Maggie Dumkee, Alison Anderson, Dr. Lesley Shannon, Dr. Aynslie Ogden
(L-R) Dean of Applied Science & Management Maggie Dumkee, Alison Anderson, Dr. Lesley Shannon, Dr. Aynslie Ogden

WHITEHORSE—Westcoast Women in Engineering, Science and Technology (WWEST) announced today their first WWEST Associate Chair will be established at Yukon College. WWEST has selected Alison Anderson, P.Eng., Technology Innovation Officer at Yukon College, to head this new satellite program.

WWEST is the operating name for the 2015-2020 Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Chair for Women in Science and Engineering (CWSE), British Columbia (BC) and Yukon Region, based at Simon Fraser University and currently held by Dr. Lesley Shannon.

WWEST’s mission is to engage students, industry, and the wider community to increase the awareness and participation of women and other under-represented groups in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields of study and careers. According to Statistics Canada, in 2011, 66 per cent of university graduates aged 25-34 from non-STEM programs were women, whereas this dropped to 39 per cent for STEM degrees.

WWEST created the Associate Chairs program to expand its impact beyond lower mainland BC. Up to three satellite programs will be established at NSERC-eligible institutions in BC and Yukon.  The Associate Chair is a one-year term, beginning in January 2018, with option for renewal. WWEST is investing $10,000 to support activities in each location.

In addition to in-kind support from Yukon College, ten Yukon organizations have invested a total of $24,500 to support Anderson’s activities as Associate Chair in Yukon. They are: Engineers Yukon; Goldcorp Inc.; Government of Yukon, Executive Council Office, Office of the Science Advisor; Make IT Solutions; NorthwesTel; TechYukon; Total North Communications; Yukon Chamber of Mines; Yukon Women in Mining; and Yukon Women in Trades and Technology.

Today’s announcement kicks off two days of activity for the new WWEST Associate Chair at Yukon College. The inaugural meeting of the Yukon STEM Outreach Collective will take place this afternoon from 4:30 p.m. to 6.30 p.m. at (co)space. Tomorrow from 8:30 a.m. to noon, also at (co)space, Dr. Shannon will lead a free seminar for STEM Industry professionals on workplace culture and retention of diverse talent.

Anderson’s vision is that this new role will be a hub for the promotion of diversity in STEM through the Territory. In addition to the Outreach Collective, she plans to establish a WWEST Partners Program in Yukon, and partner with STEM champions in Yukon communities to provide engagement and support.

“With her passion for problem-solving and dedication to improving diversity in STEM, Alison is a strong role model for young women in Yukon considering a career in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. I am pleased Alison is joining our team,” said Dr. Shannon.

Anderson is a professional systems engineer and Chair of Engineers Yukon 30 by 30 whose goal is to raise the percentage of newly licensed engineers who are women to 30 per cent by 2030. She holds a Bachelor of Applied Science from the University of Waterloo, has worked in product development, research and water treatment system design and has managed the Yukon operations of an international engineering company. Anderson will fulfil her responsibilities as Associate Chair alongside her current role as Technology Officer at Yukon College where she is responsible for identifying technology innovation potential in the Yukon and supporting Yukoners in moving their technology ideas to the next level.

“Improving diversity in STEM professions is more than simply changing the numbers, studies show that it also reduces groupthink and improves financial performance, innovation, and creativity—ultimately we all benefit,” said Anderson.

Keep up with WWEST Associate Chair at Yukon College’s events and projects at wwest.ca/yukoncollege. Activities can also be followed on social media at www.twitter.com/wwest_yukon and www.facebook.com/WWEST.YukonCollege-

WWEST is the operating name for one of the five NSERC Chairs for Women in Science and Engineering (CWSE) across Canada, and a member of the CWSE National Network. The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Chair for Women in Science and Engineering Program (CWSE) was launched in 1996. The goal of the program is to increase the participation of women in science and engineering and to provide role models for women active in, and considering, careers in these fields.

Each of the five NSERC Chairs for Women in Science and Engineering (CWSE) program is regional, with one Chair for each of the Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario, Prairie and British Columbia/Yukon regions.

For further information, please contact:

Alison Anderson
Technology Innovation Officer
Cold Climate Innovation
867.668.8792
aanderson@yukoncollege.yk.ca

Michael Vernon
Communications Coordinator
College and External Relations
867.668.8786
mvernon@yukoncollege.yk.ca