International Women’s Day 2016
Statement from Janusz Kozinski
Founding Dean, Lassonde School of Engineering
We are all different. We all bring different perspectives. And we all have a different collection of identities and experiences that define us.
When we take decisions we all benefit from a variety of opinions and ideas. We need to hear from people – and to listen to people – who see the same challenges differently.
When societies limit the rights of women to fulfill their own destinies, when organizations exclude women and when women are overlooked in our economy – everyone suffers.
When we dismiss the views of women, when we don’t allow women to speak in a meeting, when we patronize women – or if we stand by and say nothing when it happens – we suffer.
There is much to celebrate in 2016. We live in a world where the glass ceilings that have limited women and limited us all for so long are finally being shattered one-by-one.
The International Monetary Fund is headed by a woman. Europe’s largest country is led by a woman. The prime minister of my country of birth is a woman. Canada’s cabinet has a 50:50 gender split and the provinces of Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta have women in the premier’s chair. Female CEOs are leading the likes of GM, Hewlett-Packard, Yahoo and IBM. The United Nations is expected to elect the first female Secretary General later in 2016, and we may see a woman in the White House by this time next year.
Engineering schools – including our own – have a long way to go.
Today marks the first anniversary of the Lassonde 50:50 Challenge. I encourage all Lassonde community members to work with our Assistant Dean Marisa Sterling and to think about your own role in helping to make this vision a reality.
On International Women’s Day we value the contribution of women to all our lives. While words are important, it’s easy to simply say we believe in gender equality. The hard part is to reflect honestly – regardless of our own gender – on whether our actions, our behaviours and our patterns of thinking are consistent with that commitment.
Please join me in celebrating women’s contribution to our society and in considering your own contribution to this cause.