Dear members of the UBC community.
On Monday, we will be celebrating International Women’s Day. (See what’s happening at UBC: https://events.ubc.ca/international-womens-day/)
But I believe that every day should be International Women’s Day. Everything we do as a society depends upon the skills, talents and contributions of women around the world.
I wouldn’t have achieved anything in my life if it were not for countless women who were there to teach, mentor and inspire me.
But gender discrimination, violence against women and misogyny are unfortunately still too prevalent.
Only recently, we learned through a UBC study that women with straight A’s in high school have the same leadership prospects as men with failing grades. And women have fared disproportionally worse in the COVID-19 pandemic.
I want my daughters to live in a more equal world, where they can be acknowledged based on their merit rather than their gender. We must fight for gender equality, so that no woman is excluded or discouraged from a field she excels in, so that no breakthroughs are lost through the barriers of sexism, and no one who deserves a chance is passed up for their gender. Celebrate women’s achievement. Raise awareness against bias. Take action for equality.
I am pleased to note that UBC is one of 17 institutions taking part in a pilot project of a national program, called Dimensions, that seeks to increase equity, diversity and inclusion in research at post-secondary institutions.
This week, UBC’s Dimensions team released the framework for how institutional data relating to EDI in our research ecosystem will be assessed. A diverse self-assessment team will review existing policies, programs and initiatives, building upon and reinforcing our Inclusion Action Plan and the Indigenous Strategic Plan.
They will also create an inventory and analyze quantitative and qualitative data to inform our understanding of the current EDI landscape as it relates to UBC’s research ecosystem. Later, this team will draw on their findings to develop an action plan that addresses identified systemic barriers and inequities as they are experienced by women, Indigenous Peoples, persons with disabilities, members of racialized groups and the LGBTQ2+community at UBC.
In our strategic plan, we committed to inclusive excellence. Initiatives such as this help us to address issues in our own environment, and also contribute to a stronger, more diverse research culture across Canada. You can find more information on this initiative at research.ubc.ca/dimensions.
Every week, I celebrate one of UBC’s unsung heroes. And this week, it gives me pleasure to honour Nadia Xenakis, a graduate student in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems’ Applied Biology program. Her directed study included assessing student equity, diversity and inclusion perspectives in the program to ensure that the program is meeting student and community needs. Although the topic is outside of her MSc research program, she felt that these issues were so crucial, that they had to be addressed. And she did so, in her own time. Nadia, thank you for your dedication to EDI issues.
As usual, I’d like to end with a #songsofcomfort selection. This week’s selection is the Korean song Arirang, which many consider the unofficial anthem of Korea. It’s performed by UBC music students Joanna Lee and Nathania Ko. I hope you enjoy it.
Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor