The CCWESTT 2010 Experience

The Canadian Coalition of Women in Engineering, Science, Trades and Technology (CCWESTT) is a national organization devoted to the advancement and celebration of women in Science, Engineering, Trades and Technology (SETT). As our foremost goal at uOttawa WISE is the promotion and recognition of women in science and engineering on our campus, this was the ideal opportunity not only to represent our university, but to network with some of the most successful and inspirational women in Canada in our fields.

uOttawa WISE’s 1st official year was winding down when we got word that we would be attending the 13th biennial CCWESTT conference. We couldn’t think of a more fantastic way to wrap up a successful year, and indeed the excitement was palpable as Cate, Levannia, Diman and I checked in to the conference.

The venue was the Fairmont hotel in beautiful Winnipeg, Manitoba and we were soon mingling at the “Fantastic Reception with Fabulous People” while enjoying fun and games. The theme for this year was “Leading the Way: Empowering Women, Building Communities” and we were quite eager for the lectures, workshops, seminars and panel discussions to commence-which they did bright and early the next day. The next morning we learned about the launch of the WinSett Centre, had a panel discussion about the future of the workforce and got to attend a poster display. Throughout the day multiple breakout sessions were scheduled allowing us to attend those we were most interested in. I attended the session on “Research and Studies” where we examined the position of women in academia. In the afternoon “Through an Essential Skills lens” taught me that essential skills are transferable skills such as thinking-skills, and oral communication and are common in most industries, and jobs. In “Promising practices that support Work-Life Balance” we discussed the importance of women taking control of “balance” and being happy with the choices they make. Suggestions such as spousal hiring, part-time tenure and re-entry were touched on.  Later on I attended “Goal Setting: The dark-side”, where we learned effective goal setting strategies, and conflict resolution.

Saturday was just as exciting, with sessions including “Leadership”, “Today’s Military Women” and “Six Stiletto Steps to Effortless Energy”. We discussed the importance of an “elevator speech” and networking in leadership, and saw the difference women in the military were making-as aerospace engineers, flight nurses and everything in between. “Six Stiletto Steps” was perhaps my favourite session of the conference. The dynamic and entertaining Betty-Ann Heggie instilled upon us the importance of finding fulfillment by balancing masculine and feminine energy and the need for self-awareness and reflection.

But it wasn’t all lectures; we also had a morning yoga program, a reception hosted by Red River College and a tour of Morden’s of Winnipeg Chocolate Factory, where we sampled their famous Russian mints.

Saturday evening we attended the Closing banquet giving us a final opportunity to connect with the 250 plus delegates, and enjoy fabulous food and drink, while listening to the keynote speaker and performer Heather Bishop. It was indeed a night to remember. As the banquet drew to a close I marvelled at the level of planning, coordinating and the pain-staking attention to detail that was evident throughout the entire conference.

Making our way back to Ottawa, we compared notes and contacts and agreed that CCWESTT 2010 was a smashing success. Of course none of this would have been possible if not for our sponsors. On behalf of all of us at uOttawa WISE I would like to thank the NSERC/RIM Chair for Women in Science and Engineering for Ontario, Andre Lalonde (Dean of Science at the University of Ottawa) and Claude Lague (Dean of Engineering at the University of Ottawa). With an event like that one cannot but look forward to CCWESTT 2012.

Samera Mattan

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