Sunday, December 6, 2009

An inspirational book written by our very own

Dr. Monique Frize is an engineering professor at Carleton and Ottawa University who revived Ottawa WISE in 1997. After 8 years of researching, writing, and editing, she finally published her book titled "The Bold and the Brave: a history of women in science and engineering". I attended her book launch on Dec. 1st, got her autograph, and started reading the next day.

I've been waiting to get my hands on this book ever since I first met Dr. Frize at McMaster University's WISE initiative conference in 2008 where she was a speaker. To tell you the truth I was quite enthralled by all that she knew and had experienced. I remember she talked about things that happened so far back in time that I realized just how big of a deal her book was and I wanted to know more.

I haven't read very far yet so you'll have to wait for more posts from me later, but I wanted to leave you with a short interview my friend Jennifer Ng, the IEEE WIE Ottawa Chair, had with Dr Frize:
What was the most challenging part of the book to write? What was the easiest? The first two parts (philosophy and history) were the most difficult as I had to find all the material from sources that I had not seen before. The contemporary part was the easiest, having done 20 years of work on women in science and engineering through the two Chair positions I held (Northern telecom/NSERC women in engineering Chair at UNB, then the NSERC/Nortel Chair for women in science and engineering at UO and CU).

If you did not study engineering, what would have been your alternate choice?
Medicine was my other choice.

If you restarted your engineering studies today, what specialties would catch your attention?
The same: Electrical Engineering and then Biomedical Engineering

Is there an engineering domain today which one has to be brave & bold to tackle?
I think most would require a woman with confidence, who believes in herself. But perhaps biomed and environmental are a little easier for women than say mining or construction, petroleum, etc.

Any particular advice for today's young female engineer?
Believe in yourself! And find good mentors at each stage of a career. Jump over hurdles and you will reach your goals. Pick your battles carefully and sleep 24 hours prior to responding to conflict by letter or a meeting (except if an immediate response is needed).

Any particular advice for today's young male engineer?
You need to see the value in feminine attributes and respect your female colleagues. Everyone has their talents and skills and it is important to value the contributions from people who are different from us. You can be part of the solution to build a balanced world of engineering and technology.

Anything else that you would like our IEEE Canada readers to know about your book?
Everyone can find something in the book that they can do to move towards an engineering profession that is more balanced and that respects everyone's perspectives and contributions. The book will hopefully also help mothers, fathers, uncles and aunts to open up opportunities for the girls in their family to consider more career choices, including engineering!