The Women in Engineering association at UOIT sure knows how to get the people up and on their feet.
Students from Durham College and UOIT took part in a first-of-its-kind Engineering Olympics event organized by the association on January 12.
More than 30 students playing a dozen games kept their brains and muscles active, by doing everything from designing their own rollercoasters and stacking party cups, to kickball to even challenging themselves with cards.
But Women in Engineering wanted the students to walk away with more than just a fun experience.
The event aimed to raise students awareness towards the Women in Engineering Association and the struggles women face within the field.
According to Engineers Canada, 87 per cent of Canadian engineers are men. However, according to WIE president Shae Contois, that number is as high as 90 per cent at UOIT.
Domains such as www.STEMfeminist.com and hashtags like #ILookLikeAnAnEngineer try to show people that women engineers do not fit into the stereotypes set for them.
Because of that, Contois says that stigma has formed about women’s abilities compared to men.
“It feels like in a male-dominant career that women aren’t as good,” she said.
Contois says she has come face-to-face with that stigma herself at UOIT. She says male classmates are often surprised about things such as her ability to use the right tools. She adds some students on campus don’t even expect women to be engineers.
However, after proving herself in the classroom, she says the men’s perspective began to change.
“I think it’s really opening up the eyes to a lot of people, said Contois. “A lot of my classmates are like ‘Wow! You can do what I can do, if not better.’”
Participant Patrick Krokwood said he’s keen on backing the cause.
“I’m an engineering student,” he said. “It’s good to show support and help the girls out and bring a little pride to the school.”
Krokwood also said the event was more than just a way to meet new people.
“The fact that they’re out here putting out great events really helps and brings their name out to the forefront.”
According to Contois, the WIE also serves as a support group for those women who face the same stigma she did and might give in to it.
“As there are so few of us,” said Contois, “[the association is here] just to say hang in there. You’re just as good. “
Shae Contois organized and ran the event alongside President Mellissa Fracz. According to Fracz, the event shows the students women’s ability to be in control, not just in engineering.
“Women in Engineering created this event. We are running this whole event ourselves,” said Fracz. “It kind of shows that we can take charge and control an event as well as anyone else can.”
Just like Contois, Fracz feels women who plan on becoming engineers need to hear words of encouragement.
“Don’t feel discouraged or scared to come into engineering just because you think it’s all male-dominated,” said Fracz. “A lot of girls are successful in engineering. We can basically do anything we put our minds to.”
The association has been trying to debunk women stereotypes for eight years now at UOIT but it also celebrates women’s accomplishments in engineering.
With events such as the Olympics, as well as previous Christmas and Halloween movie nights, the students are drawn to the organization’s name. After they join the organization, the organization tries to help them understand the bumps that women engineers sometimes deal with along the road of their career.
With all the energy that students gave at the event, Contois and Fracz hoped they’d also gain awareness and knowledge about women in engineering in return.