SCWIST’s New Project Tackling Gender-Based Violence in STEM Workplaces

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Preventing Gender-Based Violence

The Society for Canadian Women in Science and Technology (SCWIST) is proud to announce funding support from Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE) for its new project, “Agency and Action to Prevent Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in STEM Workplaces.”

This project is a crucial step to address gaps in workplace culture, processes and policies that allow gender-based violence to persist in the STEM sector. SCWIST is thrilled to be one of 34 projects in BC to be supported by this funding investment to advance gender equality by removing systemic barriers, addressing diverse experiences of gender inequality and ensuring a better future for all Canadians.

The project funding was announced on January 18, 2024, in Vancouver during a panel on GBV moderated by Honourable Minister Marci Ien from WAGE. Panel experts included SCWIST, Next Gen Men, Mothers Matter Centre and Moose Hide Campaign Development Society, who shared their strategies for addressing and preventing GBV.

Honourable Minister Ien (WAGE), Amy Robichaud (Mothers Matter), Jake Stika (Next Gen Men), and Dr. Melanie Ratnam (SCWIST)

For over 42 years, SCWIST has been the voice for women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and has been at the forefront of gender equality in STEM. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw how systemic cracks were exacerbated and inequalities were magnified, allowing rates of GBV to surge. Preventing GBV has become even more imperative, emerging as one of the five policy pillars of action that SCWIST has identified through extensive research and consultation with women in STEM.

GBV is a human rights violation, and people can experience GBV because of their sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression or perceived gender. GBV can take many forms, including physical, sexual, psychological, emotional, financial and technology-facilitated violence. Preventing GBV is at the foundation of creating safe workplace environments where everyone can thrive. 

Through this 27-month project, SCWIST will collaborate with partners to scale multiple promising practices, such as engaging men to address hierarchical power issues and guided discussions to build empathy and cognitive-behavioural changes. The ultimate goal is to create environments where the spectrum of GBV is recognized and not tolerated. This project will address intersectional needs of equity-deserving groups, including youth, Indigenous, Black, racialized, newcomers and 2SLGBTQ+ across Canada. 

The SCWIST Agency and Action project will engage STEM companies and professional associations, enhancing STEM professions across Canada by providing workplace training, processes, policy recommendations and resources. The project will result in attitudinal and behavioural changes from individuals to teams and across organizations at all levels. A comprehensive knowledge-sharing strategy will leverage SCWIST, collaboration partners and other networks to share resources and tools to expand the impact of this project.  

“Addressing and preventing GBV in the workplace will ensure that women and gender diverse individuals are safe,  welcome, valued and productive,” shared SCWIST President Dr. Melanie Ratnam. “We are creating the environment to ensure that society can fully benefit from diversity, innovation and creative solutions from STEM sectors to contribute to Canada’s prosperity.”

SCWIST Past President Dr. Poh Tan, SCWIST President Dr. Melanie Ratnam, WAGE Minister Marci Ien and SCWIST Senior Project Manager Cheryl Kristiansen after the GBV Project announcement.

WAGE Press Release: Government of Canada supports 34 organizations to advance gender equality in British Columbia and across the country

More about SCWIST: SCWIST was founded in 1981 as a national charitable organization to advance women and girls in STEM. Our vision is to create an environment where women, girls and underserved populations in Canada can pursue their interest, education, and careers in STEM without barriers.  Our values drive our mission to promote participation and advancement through education, networking, mentorship, collaborative partnerships and advocacy. This new project builds on the accomplishments of other SCWIST projects supported by WAGE in the past decade, including Make Possible mentoring, Make DIVERSITY Possible, SCALE and STEM Forward systemic change projects. The project will also leverage promising practices developed during the pilot – Safe STEM Workplaces.

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