New award for women in engineering reinforces student’s path

The acting dean, award winner and women who established the award stand side by side near a UVic banner in a room in the Engineering Computer science Building
Peter Wild, Isabel Dinneny and Michelle Mahovlich at the gathering to announce the award

2019 December — A first-year UVic student says winning an award created for women entering engineering has convinced her that she chose the right field.

Isabel Dinneny was presented with the first 30 by 30 Women in Engineering Award at a gathering in UVic’s Engineering and Computer Science Building.

“As a young woman entering engineering, I had some trepidation about choosing a male-dominated field,” Dinneny told about 45 attendees, many of whom contributed to the endowed award.

“Receiving this award means so much to me because it represents a vote of confidence in the power of young women to make a positive difference in the world.”

Dinneny, who hopes to pursue a path in aerospace or automotive engineering, said the award has erased any doubts she had about entering the engineering field. “This award has shown me that even in a field where I will often be a minority, there will always be people supporting me and helping me to realize the beauty of my dreams,” she said.

Michelle Mahovlich, Director of Engineering for the City of Langford, said she was inspired to establish the award both to recognize Engineers Canada’s 30 by 30 initiative and to honour the 14 women who were killed in Montreal at the Ecole Polytechnique 30 years ago this month. The goal of the 30 by 30 initiative is to raise the percentage of newly licensed engineers who are women to 30 per cent by the year 2030. Engineers Canada estimates that about only 18 per cent of newly licensed engineers are women.

Mahovlich was amazed by the response from individuals and organizations wanting to contribute to the award, which in perpetuity will provide one new recipient each year with $1,000.

“I was an undergrad when the event in Montreal occurred, so the women who were killed were my age and it’s always been something that has hit close to home,” said Mahovlich, who was living in Ontario at the time. “I thought, ‘What better way to honour them than to establish this award?’”

Acting Dean of Engineering Peter Wild said the faculty is deeply committed to equity, diversity and inclusivity and to improving the experience of women who pursue degrees in engineering and computer science.

“We’re also committed to increasing the number of women in our faculty and one way to achieve this is to increase the amount of scholarship funding that’s available to them,” he said.

To read more about Mahovlich, see a recent story in our newsletter.

2019Dec04 AT