Celebrating Women at UBC: Dr. Elizabeth Croft

Photo credit: Martin Dee

Photo credit: Martin Dee

Dr. Croft and Interests

Dr. Elizabeth Croft is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering, specialising in robotics, the Associate Dean for Education and Professional Development in the Faculty of Applied Science, and the NSERC Chair for Women in Science and Engineering for the BC/Yukon region. In her spare time, she is a soccer-mom, and enjoys beachcombing, kayaking and running.

Dr. Croft and Passions

Dr. Croft is passionate about her role as an educator. She finds helping people learn and succeed incredibly rewarding. She is excited about the opportunities that technological developments are bringing to society. She believes it is important that women are encouraged to consider engineering and other technology-rich careers both for their own benefit and for the benefit of society. “We have some big problems to solve and we need as many smart people as we can find to solve them,” she says.

Some issues Dr. Croft is currently focused on revolve around respect and appreciation of others: elimination of sexism and harassment in the workplace, awareness of implicit bias and how that affects our choices, equal access to educational and career opportunities, support for families through flexible work options, and the equitable sharing of responsibilities.

Dr. Croft’s research passion lies in human-robot interaction. Her research investigates how robotic systems can behave, and be perceived to behave, in a safe, predictable, and helpful manner, and how people interact with and understand robotic systems.

Dr. Croft and International Women’s Day

Dr. Croft is inspired by her mother, the first woman in her community to become a medical doctor. She also draws inspiration from the Famous 5 from the Persons Case. Dr. Croft was also inspired by many men who encouraged her to become an engineer and pursue a research career, namely Mr. Hart, her high school physics teacher and Professors Hill and Hauptman at UBC. This International Women’s Day, she is celebrating all women in engineering and all the great men that support them.

Dr. Croft believes that some of the most significant events for Canadian women in history include the 1929 establishment of women as persons in Canada, Elsie MacGill (Queen of the Hurricanes) becoming the first women to earn a postgraduate degree in aeronautical engineering (1929) and, Roberta Bondar, first Canadian woman in Space (1992).

Dr. Croft would like to see women and men participate in all careers with the same opportunity and have men given more opportunity and support to participate in raising their families. “The Norwegian model where fathers specifically take part of parental leave is really interesting,” she says. For her, female empowerment means a strengthening of the economic and social fabric of society. When women are educated and empowered, the outcomes for families and children are much better.

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