Launching a career in science and engineering for women has
come a long way in the last few decades. But it still poses
some challenges and women are still a minority in many cases.
Fortunately, women and girls considering a career in these
fields now have a new resource to help them. The new NSERC/Petro-Canada
Chair for Women in Science in Engineering (CWSE) for the Atlantic
Region has plans to work towards changing the status quo.
Dr. Cecilia Moloney, a professor of Electrical and Computer
Engineering at Memorial, is the second consecutive CWSE at
Memorial University. Her appointment was announced July 16.
She plans to introduce new initiatives to encourage women
of all levels interested in science and engineering careers.
“Like most women scientists and engineers of my generation,
I have spent my professional years working with relatively
few women colleagues. So I have been pleased to see not only
more young women in these fields in recent years, but also
to observe the increasing awareness in Canada that the still
low participation rates of women in science and engineering
do not match with the obvious talents and interests of girls
and women,” notes Dr. Moloney.
Dr. Moloney said her vision for the chair is based on fostering
the wholeness of the human individual, which for many women
and girls means following their interests and talents into
participation in science and engineering. “We have to
ask about the factors in our culture generally, and in the
specific subcultures of science, engineering, and academia,
which discourage increased participation by women in science
and engineering. Then we must ask what we can do to change
Dr. Moloney says she feels NSERC’s initiative in establishing
the program of Chairs for Women in Science and Engineering
is wonderful. “These chairs keep the issues of women
in science and engineering in the public forum, as they celebrate
women who already have successful careers and work towards
higher participation rates by women in science and engineering.”
Engineering doctoral candidate Angela Tate agrees. “The
CWSE is an amazing resource for women science and engineering
students at MUN. The initiative of the last chair, the handbook
Becoming Leaders, has been extremely helpful. Dr. Moloney
has been very supportive of the development of the WISE Grad
Student Section, and is a strong mentor.”
Dr. Tom Brzustowski, president of Science and Engineering
Research Canada (NSERC), said he is delighted that Memorial
is hosting the regional chair for the second time and that
Petro-Canada has again joined NSERC as the sponsor for the
Atlantic program. “The people of Atlantic Canada and
science and engineering have a lot to offer one another,”
said Dr. Brzustowski. “We want the whole population
to take part in that exchange.” The previous chair program
at Memorial ran from 1997 to 2002 and was headed by Dr. Mary
Williams, now Director General of the National Research Council
of Canada Institute for Ocean Technology.
Dr. Moloney has been with the Faculty of Engineering and Applied
Science since 1990. She teaches mainly in the areas of systems
and signals, and signal processing.
For more on NSERC’s relationship with Memorial University,
see the Gazette Web site at www.mun.ca/univrel/gazette/.
NSERC and Memorial University:
• NSERC total funding to Memorial over the past three
• 2001-02 - $7.3 million
• 2002-03 - $6.5 million
• 2003-04 - $7.6 million
• NSERC currently supports just under 170 individual
researchers at Memorial through the Discovery Grants program.
• NSERC has contributed nearly $1.5 million over a five-year
period to the Coasts Under Stress project.
• NSERC contributes to AquaNet, a National Network of
Centres of Excellence, hosted at Memorial.
• NSERC contributes to our Hubert W. Kelly Memorial
Chair in Youth Focused Entrepreneurship.
• NSERC is a long-standing contributor of the Major
Facilities Access Program of our Ocean Sciences Centre.
• Under the Strategic Grants Program the council is
currently supporting a project studying the importance of
capelin biology in sustaining tropic interactions in the northwest
• Supporting a number of major initiatives under the
Research Partnerships Program with the National Research Council
Petro-Canada and Memorial University:
• Petro-Canada has supported Memorial in the order of
more than $3 million in cash and pledges over the last two
• Petro-Canada has been a valued client of our co-operative
program, hiring engineering and business students as well
as its ongoing involvement in the Associates Program of the
Faculty of Business Administration and our two annual golf
tournaments to raise funds for scholarships and alumni programming.
• Petro-Canada has worked with C-CORE, the Oil and Gas
Development Partnership and other agencies of the university,
providing them with the input and commercial opportunities
they needed to develop their research capabilities.
• Petro-Canada was an important corporate ally during
Memorial’s Opportunity Fund fundraising campaign from
• In addition to co-funding the chair focused on women
in science and engineering since 1997, Petro-Canada was supported
the NSERC/Petro-Canada Industrial Research Chair in Applied
Seismology and continues to support the Terra Nova Project
Chair in Environmental Risk Engineering, which is now in year
• Petro-Canada offers its Young Innovator Award at Memorial.
• Most recently, Petro-Canada announced a generous donation
of $1.2 million towards the construction of a new rehearsal
and performance space for the School of Music, whose building
was constructed in the 1980s also with some financial support