University of Waterloo leads Canada in UN HeForShe gender equity campaign

The University of Waterloo made three commitments today to achieve comprehensive, long-term and sustainable gender equity as part of the UN Women’s HeForShe campaign.

Waterloo, consistently ranked Canada’s most innovative university, is one of 10 universities around the world committing to take bold, game-changing action to achieve gender equality within and beyond their institutions in the HeForShe IMPACT 10x10x10 framework. Waterloo is the only Canadian organization participating in the framework.

Waterloo is working in partnership with UN Women, the United Nations entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. HeForShe is a global effort to engage men and boys in removing the social and cultural barriers that prevent women and girls from achieving their potential, and together positively reshaping society.

“Waterloo is taking the lead for Canada’s university sector in the global HeForShe effort,” said Feridun Hamdullahpur, president and vice-chancellor of Waterloo. “Gender equity is not a women’s issue. It is an everybody issue. Waterloo’s been invited to help lead HeForShe because we’re committed to gender equity. We are making three ambitious but realistic goals that we intend to achieve within the next five years.”

Working alongside governments, leading universities and global businesses the University of Waterloo is making three commitments to achieve gender equity by developing innovative programming aimed at a full spectrum of women, from young girls right through to the University’s senior leadership.

The University of Waterloo committed to:

  • Boost participation of female students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) experiences and academic careers to build the pipeline of future female leaders in traditionally male dominated disciplines
  • Enhance the representation of female faculty to improve the campus environment today and drive towards parity in the future
  • Attract and advance female leaders to senior academic and administrative positions at the University

“As change leaders in gender equity — especially as a leading STEM-focused university — we aim to advance excellence at all levels of our institution while serving as a galvanizing force for social change at universities across Canada,” said Hamdullahpur. “We know that we have some work to do to improve gender equity on our campus, but fulfilling these commitments is fundamental to our University’s long-term success, and to the quality and betterment of society.”

UN Women, the United Nations entity for gender equality and the empowerment of women, created the HeForShe initiative that was launched by UN Women Global Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in September 2014.

Launched at a press conference at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in January of 2015, HeForShe’s IMPACT 10x10x10 program engages 30 key leaders across three sectors—the public sector, private sector and academia. All 30 IMPACT champions have made common commitments and have also developed tailored commitments, formally reviewed by an expert team at UN Women and approved personally by Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director of UN Women.

HeForShe announced today the first five universities and first five businesses to join the framework and make specific commitments to achieve gender equity.
University of Waterloo’s HeForShe Commitments

Commitment 1: Boost girls’ participation in STEM experiences to build future female leaders

To reach gender parity in STEM, we need to engage women and girls as young students. The University of Waterloo will build upon its existing expertise, scaling targeted outreach programming for young girls and women to build the pipeline for future success. Focusing on the most gender-disparate STEM experiences, the university commits to boost female enrolment in these programs to 33 per cent by 2020 by expanding the scope of current programs and developing a number of targeted new initiatives.

Commitment 2: Enhance female faculty representation to drive towards parity in the future

A gender-equal faculty is key to attracting and supporting the female leaders of tomorrow. To kick-start change, the University of Waterloo commits to reach a faculty composition of 30 per cent women by 2020. The University of Waterloo will champion three initiatives to increase the representation of women: a comprehensive review of hiring practices, unconscious bias training and the creation of career opportunities for high-potential women.

Commitment 3: Advance women into positions that lead the university

Today, 24.5 per cent of senior academic and administrative leaders are female. The journey from entry-level faculty to senior leadership takes over a decade. Increasing the share of women in leadership positions will have a ripple effect on gender parity at lower levels; as women see women in these roles, they feel empowered to take on these positions. Through these commitments, and a suite of programs to target high potential women, the University of Waterloo commits to reach 29 per cent representation of women in academic and senior leadership.

More information about Waterloo’s HeForShe IMPACT 10x10x10 commitments is available of the Office of the President website.


For more information, please contact:

Nick Manning
University of Waterloo

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