Queen's University

Employment equity and human rights leaders receive awards


Wendy Powley is the inaugural recipient of the Employment Equity Award, while Queerientation has been honoured with this year’s Human Rights Initiative Award.

[Wendy Powley, the inaugural recipient of the Employment Equity Award]Wendy Powley is the inaugural recipient of the Employment Equity Award. She founded the Women in the School of Computing at Queen's, an informal support, networking and social group for all women faculty, staff and students.

“Unfortunately, there exists a huge misconception regarding the nature of computing jobs and people who choose them. Once we are able to reach girls and educate them as to the opportunities that await them, they become more open minded and able to see the possibilities,” says Ms Powley, a research associate and adjunct lecturer in the Queen’s School of Computing. “Our efforts within the school have been highly successful; our current female enrollment numbers are 23 per cent higher than the national average.”

Ms Powley founded Women in the School of Computing (WISC) at Queen’s, an informal support, networking and social group for all women faculty, staff and students. The group has provided outreach and mentorship to young women in the Kingston community through the LEGO robotics program with the hope of educating and inspiring more girls to consider a career in computing. Ms Powley is also the founder and organizer of the annual conference Ontario Celebration of Women in Computing.

“Wendy Powley is a deserving first recipient of this award because her exemplary efforts have fostered a climate conducive to employment equity. Her significant contributions in the School of Computing have set a great example for the entire university,” says Gordon Smith, Chair, Queen’s Council on Employment Equity.

Queerientation, organized by the Alma Mater Society’s Education on Queer Issues Project (EQuIP), raises awareness about Queen’s queer community among incoming students.

[Bisexuality pride flag flying in front of JDUC during Queerientation]The bisexuality flag flies in front of the JDUC during Queerientation. One of the many events during this year's Queerientation celebrated Bisexuality Day on September 23.

“We wanted a diverse array of events this year so that there was something that appealed to everyone, and to establish stronger relationships and a sense of community right off the bat. I believe that this year’s Queerientation was successful in both areas, and the inclusive community that was generated during those two weeks still holds strong today,” says Jessica Sinclair, Chair, EQuIP.

The popularity of Queerientation has grown since it was established 15 years ago.

“The dedication of EQuIP has resulted in a positive orientation for generations of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and queer students and has ultimately made Queen’s a more welcoming and inclusive place for people of all sexual and gender identities,” says Stephanie Simpson, Associate Director, Human Rights Office.

Several key dates make December an important month for the recognition of employment equity and human rights achievements. December 3 is the United Nations International Day for Persons with Disabilities. December 15 marks the 16th anniversary of the federal Employment Equity Act receiving Royal Assent. December 10 is recognized as Human Rights Day around the world.

Provost Alan Harrison will present Ms Powley and Queerientation with the awards at a ceremony on January 25.

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Last updated at 3:57 pm EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
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