NSERC Chair for
Women in Science & Engineering

Dr. Jennifer Mather

Go for it! There are great problems to solve and science above all, is fun.

Professor, Psychology
University of Lethbridge

Dr. Jennifer Mather was born in Victoria, BC, where she developed her fascination for sea animals. She holds a BSc in Biology from UBC, an MSc in Biology from Florida State, and a PhD from Brandeis University (1980), after which she earned a University Research Fellowship and worked as a Research Assistant Professor at Western University for five years. She has been at the University of Lethbridge since 1985, where she currently works as a Professor of Psychology, researching octopus behaviour. Beyond these research interests, Dr. Mather's work is also concerned with women in science (having been involved in activism and teaching on gender issues), non-standard university teaching, human-animal interactions and invertebrate welfare. She is widowed, with two children and two grandchildren.

As an academic, what is your favourite part of your job?

Simply watching the animals.

What are you researching and what excites you about it?

Behaviour, cognition and consciousness in octopuses.

What types of professions can students graduating in your field enter?

I teach Psychology, students can and do enter the helping professions.

Is your workplace male-dominated? If so, how do you negotiate being a woman in a male-dominated workplace and/or field?

Yes--though Psychology is not too bad. Seniority, competence and stubbornness.

How do you foster and encourage diversity in your workplace?
Just being there helps. Welcoming women and people in other minorities is also important, so is recognizing people for their competence and not their looks.

What kinds of systemic support could institutions provide to help encourage girls and women to pursue careers in science and engineering?

Role models, mentoring, education (of men more than women) about the problems, pay equity, equal recognition of women's competence in research.

What advice would you give to girls or young women who are interested in careers in science or engineering?

Go for it! There are great problems to solve and science above all, is fun.

As a professional in science or engineering, who are your role models and mentors?

I am a mentor, being senior. My role model was Marie Curie.