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Making employment equity inroads

Every year the Equity and Human Rights Offices recognize individuals and groups that are working toward making Queen’s University a more inclusive and welcoming place.

Wendy Powley
Wendy Powley, a continuing adjunct in the School of Computing and the Faculty of Education, was the inaugural winner of the Employment Equity Award. (University Communications) 

The annual Tri-Awards not only celebrate the achievements of Queen’s community members in the areas of employment equity, human rights, and accessibility, but also reinforce the importance of the work being done.

In 2011, Wendy Powley, a continuing adjunct in the School of Computing and the Faculty of Education, received the inaugural Employment Equity Award, which recognizes the achievements of individuals, groups or organizations that go above and beyond legislated requirements or their institutional mandate to help Queen’s become a truly representative and inclusive workplace.

The recognition, she says, didn’t just validate the work she is doing in introducing young women to the male-dominated field of computing on a personal level, it also opened the eyes of colleagues and administrators in her department and across the university to the importance of such efforts.

“I thought that receiving the Employment Equity Award was great because it recognized the things that I was doing in my spare time, to have it validated and also to raise awareness,” she says. “It was validating that people cared about what we are doing in the School of Computing. I view it as a departmental award, it wasn’t just for me. The School of Computing has done a lot to increase the number of women in our department, so being recognized for that was great for our School.”

The award also recognized Ms. Powley’s work organizing and promoting conferences such as the Canadian Celebration of Women in Computing (CAN-CWIC) and playing key roles in groups such as the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). As a result of her efforts, thousands of young women across the world have been introduced to the field of computing and learned that there is most definitely a place for them.

“It was great to know that the university actually values equity efforts.  I think many people don’t understand the reasons behind these efforts.   In our field, young women are missing out only because of lack of information, not lack of interest or ability.  They have often not been exposed to the field of Computer Science” she says. “So, for people it’s an opportunity to stop and think for a while about why we have a women's group or why we do outreach.  I think the award really made that happen in our department.  Everyone celebrated the award and in doing so, they recognized what we are doing is important.   I definitely have the support of my department and my colleagues and the equity award certainly contributed to that.”

Nominations for the Tri-Awards are currently being accepted. The deadline is Jan. 12, 2018.

The awards will be presented on March 20, 2018 at the Diversity and Inclusion Round-Table Discussion and 2017 Tri-Awards Celebration. Register online early as spaces are limited for this event.

Nomination forms and further information on the Employment Equity Award, Steve Cutway Accessibility Award, and Human Rights Initiative Award are available on the Equity Office website. Questions can be directed to the Equity Office at 533-2563 or equity@queensu.ca.