Celebrating the International Day of Women and Girls in Science

February 14, 2022

February 14, 2022 – By Amanda Etty

On Friday, February 11, 2022, Women’s College Hospital celebrated the International Day of Women and Girls in Science by leading a series of events and programming to highlight the incredible past, present and future contributions of WCH’s women scientists, as well as to advocated for more equity and diversity in science and health research. 

The day kicked off with a Wikipedia edit-a-thon, whereby a group of volunteer editors from Women in Red, Wikipedia’s gender-gap bridging project set to update the pages of Wikipedia with entries for more than 200 women scientists from WCH and other University of Toronto-affiliated hospitals. Fewer than 20 percent of biographies on Wikipedia are of women, according to Women in Red, and less than one percent are women in science – the goal of this project, which hosts edit-a-thons all over the world, is to change that. The project is ongoing and now features WCH women scientists, including Lorraine Lipscombe, Paula Rochon and Simone Vigod, on the pages of Wikipedia. 

In partnership with Baycrest Health Sciences, WCH also hosted A Foundation of Equity, a virtual panel event discussing equity metrics in science and health research. The focus of the event, hosted by Baycrest’s VP of Research, Dr. Allison Sekuler, and moderated by Dr. Rulan Parekh, WCH’s VP of Academics, was on how to implement structural change required to recruit, retain and promote diverse persons into health research. Research shows that diverse teams enhance creativity and productivity and is essential to the future of science and health research – how do we get there? 

Dr. Cara Tannenbaum, Scientific Director of the Institute of Gender and Health at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) spoke to “Revisioning ‘Scientific Excellence:’ Equitable Metrics of Success in Research.” Her interactive discussion probed at traditional metrics of scientific impact, such as citations, and encouraged a more inclusive measurement, leading to a more complex and equitable research landscape. 

Dr. Parekh then turned to a panel of distinguished experts who engaged in an enlightening conversation on what measures should be used to ensure equity and diversity in recruitment, retention, promotion and mentorship. The panel included Dr. Tannenbaum, Dr. Nicole Kaniki, Director, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) in Research and Innovation, at the University of Toronto; Dr. Lisa Robinson, Vice Dean, Strategy & Operations, at Temerty Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto; Dr. Brad Wouters, Executive Vice President, Science and Research, at UHN; Dr. Sarah Overington, Director, Science Promotion and Operations, at Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC); and Dr. Indra Narang, Associate Chair, Faculty Development and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, at SickKids. 

Watch the event:

Leading up to February 11, WCH shared snapshots from “Women in Medical Research: A History of Innovation” through its social media platforms. The virtual exhibit, from the Miss Margaret Robins Archives of WCH and Digital Museums Canada, displays the stories of women at WCH who made valuable contributions to Canadian medical research during the first half of the 20th century. It also showcases the next generation of women scientists at WCH and encourages visitors to make their own impact in STEM.

Thank you to all who contributed to making the International Day of Women and Girls in Science at WCH a success!