Well, it finally happened folks. Concordia University made history.
Not for the most suit-wearing students in the John Molson School of Business; not for the longest line-up at People’s Potato. For something infinitely more important. Concordia is the first university in Canada to name an engineering school after a woman.
The Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science is named after Gina Parvaneh Cody, the former executive chair of CCI Group, an engineering firm in Toronto. Cody was also the first woman at Concordia to receive a PhD in building engineering. She graciously donated $15 million to Concordia recently, and according to CBC News, the university will be using part of the money to create a fund for equity, diversity and inclusion programming.
According to CBC News, Cody made the donation because university is a place for “women, people of colour, Indigenous populations and other minorities to pursue their dreams.” These positive words uplift our spirits here at The Concordian, and we are proud to be witnessing such a powerful moment.
Naming an engineering school after a woman is a huge step in the STEM field, as 12.8 per cent of practicing licensed engineers in Canada are women, according to Engineers Canada. The same source highlights that women only account for 20 per cent of total enrolment in undergraduate engineering programs at Canadian universities. According to the Toronto Star, Concordia exceeded that number last year, by having 23 per cent of women in the engineering and computer science programs. While these numbers are staggeringly low, we at The Concordian believe naming an engineering school after a woman is a key step in changing these figures.
In a society that has cultivated a certain image of women and men, things have remained static. But today, we must acknowledge different truths about genders and the societal constructs surrounding them. Women can and do excel in male-dominated industries, and we need to celebrate that narrative. Cody said, “I think it will break that fear that engineering and computer science is for boys. I’m hoping kids at school, when they hear [the school’s name], they will say, ‘Oh, it’s a woman’s name!’ and it will matter,” according to Toronto Star.
We at The Concordian also hope for that effect. The programs at our universities should be as diverse as possible, in order to properly reflect our realities. Women make up half of the population in Canada—isn’t it about time that all fields, especially STEM fields, reflect that?
We also believe it’s worth noting that Cody came to Canada in 1979 from Iran with just $2,000, according to CBC News. While some people believe where you’re going matters more than where you came from, we think roots are important. It’s necessary to stress that, as an immigrant, Cody has made an incredible life in Canada for herself and for the next generation of engineering students at Concordia. In a political climate that often rejects the acceptance of immigrants and worries about their contribution to society, Cody represents what can happen when Canada chooses to be an accepting nation.
We at The Concordian are proud to be at a university where the first woman who received a PhD in building engineering is the same woman whose name graces the first female-named engineering school in Canada. We hope the fight for gender equity and diversity in engineering doesn’t end here.
Graphic by @spooky_soda