The program of this Chair is to develop and successfully lead strategic activities that promote greater opportunities for women in science and engineering across the Prairie Region, particularly for Aboriginal women. Public advocacy and role modelling is being achieved through the establishment of regional opportunities and funding for networking and mentorships among women. Science and engineering promotion is being achieved through advancing outreach and science programs in, and for, northern communities, and through the Bruce D. Campbell Farm & Food Discovery Centre—a newly opened public visitor centre in Manitoba.
The specific research program of this Chair addresses the fact that for several generations, certain academic studies have attracted fewer women than men. Examples include older programs like engineering and agriculture, and newer ones like computer science. The reasons behind these continued anomalies in gender equity at the post-secondary, postgraduate and faculty levels are not fully understood. Consequently, this Chair is conducting quantitative and qualitative research to better outline institutional factors and mechanisms that can influence the participation rates of women in science and engineering programs and professions.
Dr. Farenhorst is an important role model for women in a field that is still largely male-dominated. As an example, in 2000, Dr. Farenhorst served as the first female president of the Manitoba Soil Science Society since the inception of the society in 1957. Since then, five other women have served as President. Dr. Farenhorst is nationally and internationally recognized for her leading-edge research on the fate of pesticides in soils and the broader environment. Dr. Farenhorst is a well-rounded academic whose contributions in the domains of teaching, research and outreach have been recognized with a range of awards. She is also an associate editor of two journals in her field.
The Chair is an important focal point for initiatives pertaining to gender, equity and diversity at the University of Manitoba. The Chair program is in collaboration with NSERC, the Manitoba Pork Council, University of Saskatchewan, Province of Manitoba (Manitoba Innovation, Energy and Mines), Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of the Province of Manitoba, Manitoba Institute of Agrologists, and Canadian Society of Soil Science. Together, we believe that this Chair program will lead to new opportunities for women to grow, develop and provide leadership in the fields of science and engineering.