Moving Into a New Decade of Gender Equity at U of G

Since its launch in 2017, the University of Guelph’s GenEQ: Advancing the Status of Women at U of G initiative has undertaken a number of projects to improve gender equity on campus. Launched by Charlotte Yates, provost and vice-president (academic), the GenEQ Initiative has been working to understand barriers to women's equity on campus, support women's equity in leadership roles across the University, celebrate inspiring women within our community, and advance the status of all women on our campuses and beyond. 

The GenEQ Advisory Group uses an inclusive definition of women that encompasses cisgender women, transwomen, genderqueer women, Two-Spirit, non-binary and gender non-conforming people who identify as women. Diversity of perspectives is important in our work to better understand the experiences of all women in our University community.

In 2019, GenEQ advanced projects in six key areas – areas that will serve to propel the initiative forward into 2020. 

Reporting on Gender Equity on Campus 

One of the goals of the GenEQ initiative is to conduct research on women’s representation among university students, faculty and staff. In the fall of 2020, GenEQ will release its Gender Representation Report, outlining women’s representation at the University and situating it within the broader context of women in Canadian universities and other work organizations. This report offers insight into women’s current representation on campus and will form a baseline from which to continue working towards gender equity.  The report also highlights the lack of research available on university staff as a group.

Gender Equity Discussion Groups on Campus 

During the month of May, GenEQ sponsored three Conversation Cafes for women on campus at Guelph. Each café was focused on a different theme: career development, leadership and mentorship. At each of these events, attendees sat in small groups and participated in facilitated discussions about the Café’s theme. Notes from these group discussions will inform GenEQ activities working to bolster women’s career development, leadership and mentorship into the future. 

Equity Speakers Panel

GenEQ held a Speakers Panel in March dedicated to equity and inclusion when planning events on campus. The event addressed topics including: the importance of inclusivity and equity in event planning, advice for thinking about equity in event planning, barriers to access that should be considered, and dealing with criticism. Feedback from this event was very positive and GenEQ is currently planning similar speakers events to be held virtually due to COVID-19.  

Celebrating International Women’s Day

On March 8th, 2019, the GenEQ advisory group hosted its third annual International Women’s Day Breakfast for faculty and staff at U of G. The event attracted more than 400 people from across the University and included remarks from Yates and Paulina García-Del Moral (Assistant Professor, Sociology). 

GenEQ also hosted a student celebration in University Centre encouraging the wider campus community to take photos in its selfie station while sharing stories of women who inspired them on campus.  

The group is planning a similar event for International Women’s Day on March 6th, 2020.

Recognizing Women’s Work at Guelph

Part of GenEQ’s role is to share stories about women’s research, scholarship and service to their campus and community. Over 2019, the group created profiles of inspiring women on campus – women such as Kim Anderson, Liz Cherry, Leanne Son Hing, Tamara Small, Carla Rice, and Liliana Caballero – and has begun sharing them on its website. Profiles of these six inspiring women are currently up on the GenEQ website, with more planned for the coming months. 

Community Outreach

In November, members of the GenEQ team attended a community event co-sponsored by Women Go Further at Loblaw Inc. and Women Get On Board geared at connecting, promoting and empowering women onto corporate boards. At this event, GenEQ members learned about how private sector initiatives supporting women employees could be adapted to the campus context.  

Future Plans

  • Continue to share stories about women’s research, scholarship, service and contributions to campus and community
  • Develop a plan to support GenEQ speakers on campus
  • Explore possibilities for connecting with broader women’s empowerment programs and agencies
  • Measure U of G’s progress towards gender equity from the baseline established in the Gender Representation Report
  • Develop new mentorship and leadership programs for women
  • Host campus discussion groups on gender equity
  • Examine barriers to women’s advancement within university settings through evidence-based investigations 

New GenEQ Post Doc

As of February 2020, U of G has hired Merin Oleschuk to take over the Gender Equity Initiative’s post-doctoral fellowship position as Alexandra Rodney finished her two-year term. Oleschuk is an expert in the sociology of gender and lends her passion and experience in community engagement and knowledge translation to the Initiative.  

Learn more about GenEQ: Advancing the Status of Women at U of G on the GenEQ website or by contacting