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Women’s Contribution to Science and Technology through ICWES Conferences

  • Book
  • © 2024


  • Discusses the beginnings and legacy of the conference series The International Conferences of Women Engineers
  • Demonstrates a leadership and vision of women in male-dominated STEM professions
  • Contains testimonials by women around the world who have attended the ICWES conferences

Part of the book series: Women in Engineering and Science (WES)

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About this book

This book discusses the legacy of the conference series The International Conferences of Women Engineers and Scientists (ICWES), which spans the second half of the Twentieth Century and the beginning of the twenty-first. The book first discusses how, at a time when there were few women engineers and scientists, a group of women organized a conference, in June 1964 in New York, which attracted 486 women. They presented their scientific achievements and discussed how to attract more women in STEM. This effort was carried out by volunteers, continuing the ICWES conferences over a period of 59 years. The authors discuss the organizers, the hosting societies, the scientific content, the changes in issues over time, and how the continuity has endured. The authors also discuss the importance of global involvement, shown through past conferences inlocations such as USA, UK, Italy, Poland, France, India, Ivory Coast, Hungary, Japan, Canada, and Korea. The authors also outline how the efforts were aided by the development of a not for profit Canadian corporation, the International Conference of Women in Sciences and engineering (INWES), which ensures the continuation of the conference series. Claire Deschênes and Monique Frize ensured that the conference database was digitalized and is now available at the Canadian Archive of Women in STEM, University of Ottawa Library, with the hope that researchers will continue to explore this rich database. As an important part of the Women in Science and Engineering book series, the work hopes to inspire women and men, girls and boys to study and work in STEM fields. This book is important historically because it documents a unique adventure created by women in STEM through vision and leadership. Their efforts established modes of networking and sharing their contributions in science, technology, and on gender issues.

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Table of contents (18 chapters)



Authors and Affiliations

  • Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada

    Monique Frize

  • Université Laval, Québec, Canada

    Claire Deschênes

  • University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada

    Ruby Heap

About the authors

Monique (Aubry) Frize was the first women to obtain an engineering degree at the University of Ottawa (BASc EE) in 1966. She obtained an MPhil and DIC at Imperial College in London, an MBA at U de Moncton, and a doctorate at Erasmus Universiteit in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Frize worked for 18 years as a biomedical engineer in hospitals; and 20 years as a full Professor in electrical engineering, at UNB while holding the national Chair for women in engineering (1989-1997); and at Carleton and University of Ottawa (1997-2010), while holding the Ontario Chair for women in science and engineering (1997-2002). Frize published six books and over 200 articles in peer-refereed conference proceedings and journals. She was awarded the Order of Canada, five honorary degrees, and inducted as fellow of IEEE, CAE, CMBES and Engineers Canada. She was awarded the Gold Medal of Professional Engineers Ontario in 2000. Monique Frize gave over 400 talks in Canada and in several other countries between 1990 and 2010.

Claire Deschênes is currently Professor Emerita at Laval University. In 1989, she was hired as the first woman professor in engineering at the Faculty of sciences and engineering of Laval University (Canada), where she founded the Hydraulic Machine Laboratory (LAMH) and the research Consortium on hydraulic machines. Prof. Deschênes is member of the Order of Canada, Knight of Ordre national du Québec and Fellow of Engineers Canada. In 2015, she received the NSERC Synergy Award for innovation – two or more industries, on behalf of the Consortium in Hydraulic Machines, and in 2020 the Prix du Quebec Lionel-Boulet for her remarkable career in industrial research. She received two Honorary Doctorates, from University of Ottawa and Université de Sherbrooke.  Claire Deschênes was holder of one the NSERC Chair for women in science and engineering in Quebec from 1997 to 2005. As such, she was member or Chair of numerous boards. She is co-founder of three non-profit organizations of women in S&E: Affestim, CIWES (former INWES-ERI) and INWES. Over her career, she published more than 100 scientific papers and conferences. Over 50 graduated students and 80 undergrad students were trained in LAMH for the benefit of the Canadian industry.

Ruby Heap is currently Professor Emerita at the University of Ottawa’s Department of History.  During her career, Ruby committed herself to the development of Francophone and Anglophone scholarship and student training in the fields of educational history and of women’s and gender history. She co-founded (1989) and co-edited the journal Historical Studies in Education/Revue d’histoire de l’éducation, and was appointed in 1999 as Founding Director of the University of Ottawa’s Institute of Women’s Studies. She then served as associate dean at the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies and, more recently, as associate vice-president, research. During this period, Ruby also began researching the still largely unknown history of women in Canadian engineering. Through her involvement with the INWES Education and Research Institute (INWES-ERI), she also advocated the interdisciplinary study of women in STEM, and called for the creation of a national Archive devoted to their history in Canada, a project that came to fruition in 2018. Ruby Heap is the recipient of the Professional Engineers of Ontario’s President Award (2010), of the Order of Academic Palms from the French Republic (2016) and of the Royal Society of Canada’s Ursula Franklin Prize in Gender Studies (2018).

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