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That Canadian women have been active participants in a broad spectrum of scientific endeavour for several hundred years is evident from the 18 biographies provided here. Medicine, architecture, engineering, aeronautical, biological and agricultural sciences are among the fields in which these women worked. Many of them faced enormous challenges in their personal and professional lives. Despite these challenges, they have made significant contributions to scientific research, achieved firsts in their fields and furthered the advancement of women in non-traditional areas of activity.
"So why do we know so little about them?" asks Marianne Goszotonyi Ainley in the introduction to Despite the odds : essays on Canadian women and science. In response, Ms. Ainley notes that women have encountered many barriers in their attempts to enter the world of science and technology — including limitations on higher education and career advancement — and that these barriers have been reinforced by stereotypical thinking about appropriate roles for women. As a result, even today, few women hold positions of power in the sciences. While recent statistics on the participation of women in scientific professions show an increase in fields such as medicine, women are still under-represented in professions in the natural sciences, engineering and mathematics. (Statistics Canada, Women in Canada 2000)
It is hoped that these biographies will highlight and celebrate the achievements of Canadian women in the sciences and will serve as an inspiration to young women interested in pursuing scientific research and careers. Other biographies will be added to the site over time.
For those who wish to learn more about these women, a list of Resources is appended to each biography.