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Gender Equality Mainstreaming Digest – November 2019 Issue

Here are the highlights of this month’s Gender Equality Mainstreaming Digest! Click HERE for the full version.

Acer ginnala tree with fall colour. Photo courtesy of D. Ceplis.


Opportunities and Upcoming Events:

Imagining Rural Futures Conference

June 18 to 19, 2020 in Winnipeg, Manitoba

The year 2020 is a great time to look ahead and explore what change might look like in the year 2040.

Future of Planning Rural Regions – How do we plan for the future of rural? Is it interconnected with urban counterparts, while at times frustrated by urban-centred thinking and policy? What knowledge, tools and techniques can help us inform an integrated regional approach today for a more resilient rural future?

Future of Rural People – How will the population of rural change by 2040? How can we start adapting to and supporting trends today be they on aging, sable and even declining population levels? A labour force with employment-ready skills?

Future of Rural Development – What could rural economy and services look like in 2040? What areas do rural regions need to improve now to participate in the current and future digital economy more effectively? What about the infrastructure deficit in rural Canada?

Future of Agriculture and Food – How will agriculture and food change by 2040? How do we improve food security and sustainability today? What protein advantage will feed more? How are we adapting to climate variations and extreme weather events?

This Month’s News:

What MIT Media Lab’s funding scandal says about sexism in tech – How does a renowned educational institution dubbed “the Future Factory” reconcile its role as both an influential pipeline to the tech industry and a school whose leadership aligned itself with a known sexual predator?
It’s a question that staff and students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are grappling with, after multiple reports revealed that the MIT Media Lab accepted — and covered up — millions of dollars in donations from billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted criminal who served time for procuring the services of an underage girl for prostitution.
But while the Media Lab is at the centre of the scandal, experts point out, the issues at the core of the controversy are prevalent across the tech industry.
The funding scandal puts the lie to all of the industry’s initiatives to bring more diversity into the stream of STEM fields — what’s known as the “pipeline.” Simply filling the ranks with more women is misguided, Coe said, because it still puts the onus on women to “break into” the field as opposed to putting pressure on the establishment to be more welcoming.
“More needs to be done,” said Canadian aerospace engineer Natalie Panek. She said she is often asked what advice she would give to women who are deterred from STEM.
“This question needs to be reframed as: How can we dismantle the systemic barriers that drive women out of STEM?” The onus is not on women, she said, but on the institutions and people in positions of power “to make STEM environments more inclusive, and to ensure there is transparency in processes and decision-making.”

Women Climate Leaders Face ‘Green Rage’ Attacks – Women leaders who support climate action are being attacked online with increasing regularity. These attacks should be viewed as a problem not only for the planet, but also to the goals of achieving gender equality and more inclusive, democratic politics. Unfortunately, vitriol directed at women leaders who support climate action is becoming more frequent in Canada and beyond. Attacks against women climate leaders specifically can be further explained by the relationship between misogyny and climate denialism.
Understanding the complex and challenging terrain women leaders must navigate is an important requirement of an informed electorate.
While some women politicians like McKenna have attempted to tackle head on the problem of online attacks against them, it should not be left to women alone to combat this issue. Dismantling patriarchal assumptions about gender is not just good for women, it is also good for men — and for the planet.

This 14-year-old has a science lab in her basement and will be talking biotech at MIT – When Patricia Rea finishes her school day and her homework, the 14-year-old heads straight to the basement and gets to work in her science lab.

Her recent research: genetically engineering yeast and proteins from eelpout — an eel-like finned fish — with hopes she can make them survive long-term in extreme heat and cold, like the conditions on Mars.

Justin Pahara, the head scientist at the Alberta-based biotechnology company Amino Labs, and one of her mentors said Rea’s research is pushing the boundaries in biology.

Her parents say they do their best to treat science as if it’s any other extra-curricular activity. “We probably spend the same amount of money for lab supplies and equipment as someone equipping a goalie for a hockey team,” said Jim.

Women Changing Food Around the World – Women are the backbone of agriculture and food systems worldwide—according to The World Bank, women make up about half of the agricultural sector in developing countries, but they typically receive fewer resources including land, education, inputs, and financial and banking services than men. Despite these obstacles, women around the world are emerging as leaders in all corners of the food justice movement: from empowering smallholder farmers in the developing world and building food as medicine into the medical system, to re-imagining a more accessible and sustainable grocery store, their work is changing the way we eat all around the world. Here are their stories.

The article is spotlighting 14 women who are proving that the future of food justice is female: Amy and Ruth Anslow, HISBE Food (United Kingdom); Atram Padma Bai, fairtrade farmer (India); Gitanjali Rajamani, Farmizen (India); Jamila Abass, M-Farm (Kenya); Jillian Hishaw, F.A.R.M.S. (United States); Jolanda Buets and Simone Heemskerk, Por Eso! (Peru); Julie Carney, Gardens for Life (United States/Rwanda); Jyoti Fernandes, agroecological smallholder farmer (United Kingdom); Kavita Shukla, Fenugreen (United States); Pei-Ru Ko, Real Food, Real Stories (United States); Dr. Rita Nguyen, Food Pharmacies of San Francisco (United States); Sakina Rajkotwala, Herbivore Farms (India); Saumya, Kheyti (India); and Sharon Cittone, Seeds&Chips (Italy).

Celebrating women in agriculture – As worldwide events take place to celebrate the International Day of Rural Women (Tuesday 15 October) it is more important than ever to keep moving toward more gender-balanced agriculture

Women in agriculture play a vital role in society, and a wide-reaching study conducted by Corteva Agriscience last year found that women are all too often subject to gender discrimination which stops them from meeting their potential, stunting their ability to grow what matters.

Announcement of New President and Chief Executive Officer for Ag-West Bio – The Board of Directors of Ag-West Bio Inc. is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Karen Churchill as the organization’s next president and chief executive officer. Churchill brings to the position a wealth of knowledge and an array of experiences in the agriculture industry, on a provincial, national and global level. She will join Ag-West Bio on November 18, 2019.

Reports Publications and Resources:

Audio: Glass obstacle course: Why so few women hold top STEM spots – Research shows that in Canada, these obstacles persist over the course of a female scientist’s career. According to a 2012 report by the Council of Canadian Academies, women tend to occupy fewer high-ranking STEM positions than men, with their numbers steadily decreasing as the rank increases.

In addition to workplace discrimination, female scientists are often confronted with the “motherhood penalty,” where they are passed over for promotions or research grants because of the time they dedicate — or plan to dedicate — to family and childcare. While academic institutions are technically not allowed to discriminate during a tenure process based on family issues, Lisa Willis says a scientist’s decision to split focus between her home and work life can still affect how she is perceived by her peers.

In recent years, the Canadian government has made a number of changes to address gender inequity in STEM fields.

Three Podcasts from Women in Food and Agriculture

Education Ag Tech

Natalie McCaffery is a high school senior from Southern California who has developed a passion for Agriculture, Technology, and Education. Through her involvement in the Girl Scouts of America, Natalie has earned the highest distinction by bridging gaps between STEM education and Agricultural literacy for students of all ages. The mission of her non-profit organization, Education Ag Tech, is to advance the knowledge of our next generation on the importance of agriculture and how technology can be optimized and applied to farming methods, resulting in a healthier planet and population. Natalie has been leading a team in the build of an Internet of Things Smart Farm station used to teach computer science through agriculture.

Changing the future of Ag

Susanna Elliott, Head of communications at Alltech. Susanna has been with Alltech for more than 10 years, and today she oversees our global communications efforts. She is an integral part of amplifying our Planet of Plenty message.

The many unique challenges that women throughout the ag supply chain

This podcast features Jessica Fanzo, an amazing leader in health and nutrition from Johns Hopkins University with background serving in prominent capacities for several globally focused organizations, including the United Nations. Jessica discusses with Laura the many unique challenges that women throughout the ag supply chain face- access to land and land tenure, access to funding and loans, decision-making limitations, and the world-wide gender gap in agriculture as a whole. Jessica also talks through the many obstacles to accessibility and popularity of plant-based and lab-grown protein, agricultural eco systems and their role in crop production, and more.

Survey Results: Women’s Leadership: Empowering Women to Become Powerful Advocates for Agriculture – According to the U.S. Census of Agriculture, 36% of American farmers and ranchers are women. In our Women in Ag Survey, we take a closer look at the opportunities for growth and development for women in the agriculture industry.

The American Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Committee launched its second Women in Ag survey in March 2019 to ensure programming and leadership opportunities help women in agriculture achieve their goals and aspirations. All women who are farmers, ranchers, farm/ranch employees, employed in agricultural businesses, pursuing ag-related education or supportive of agriculture in other ways were invited to participate.

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