Celebrating Women at UBC: Dr. Judy Mclean

Dr. Mclean and Passions

Dr. McLean is a senior lecturer and the developer of the International Nutrition Major in the Faculty of Food and Nutritional Health. She works with various international organizations, such as UNICEF and WHO, in seven countries in Africa and three in Asia. “At UBC my teaching focus is on global problems in nutrition and food security; analysis of the political, social and cultural complexities of food habits and malnutrition in various cultures around the world as well as the relationships between diet and disease in both the developed and developing world. I have also prepared nutrition curricula for Cambodia and Mongolia, and presented an introductory nutrition course in Rwanda with regionally specific content looking at food availability, related nutritional deficiencies, as well as the cultural and socioeconomic factors that impact on food security in each region. Most recently, I developed a new major, International Nutrition at UBC, which is the first of its kind in North America,” she says.

Her work takes a lifespan approach to ensure that during the “first 1000 days” (conception to two years of age) women are adequately nourished. The effects of malnutrition in the mother also extend to the children. Women who are undernourished starting from the womb see it affecting their cognitive and physical abilities, which may in turn project to potentially larger consequences on aspects of education, marrying early, and giving multiple births. She and her teams try to tackle issues from various angles, ensuring women during pregnancy are well nourished and children are also adequately nourished to enable them to reach their full potential in life.

Dr. Mclean and Changes

In the American Medical Journal, there was an article comparing female and male doctors and how female doctors work four hours more on average per day, due to household tasks and domestic work. We can celebrate that there are just as many doctors from each gender, but sometimes she feels that women are now too occupied. Perhaps a little balance is required back in our lives. And though a large focus has been on increasing educational opportunities for women, Dr. Mclean says there needs to be support for increasing access to land and jobs as well.

Dr. Mclean and Women

In 2006, there was a student, Amy Osborne, who went on to work abroad as a midwife with Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors without Borders after taking Dr. McLean’s International Nutrition course. After witnessing an obstructed labor caused by early life nutrition and stunted growth, she wrote a poem about the horrid experiences and health consequences of the young girl in the conflict area. Motivated to gain the skills to perform the surgery that is necessary in such a case, she went on to enroll in a medical school to become a doctor. Recently, she has been back to the same conflict area to do just what she set out to do.

The women Dr. McLean sees while she is in the field, the women who work sixteen hour days in the rice fields or digging cassava roots, are also women of inspiration. She says that they lack opportunities to access education, health, and early life nutrition. Though they definitely need those doors opened, she also sees what women have in their lives that may be missing in our society today. She sees their connectedness to family, to the community, and to other women. Dr.McLean believes there are many valuable things to learn from women in other parts of the world.

Celebrating Women at UBC: Ryanne James

Photo credit: Cicely Blain

Photo credit: Cicely Blain

Ryanne and Passions

Ryanne James is the First Nations House of Learning Outreach Coordinator and a student in the UBC School of Community and Regional Planning, specialising in Indigenous Community Planning. She is passionate about family, soccer, friendship, community, and gardening. In her spare time, she enjoys reading children’s books, playing soccer, and plotting on how to become the best 37-year-old break-dancer that this campus has ever seen.

She is passionate about people-issues and playing a role in a world where each individual, regardless of race, gender, culture, or background, has the right to education, work, nourishment, safety, physical, and mental health.

Ryanne and International Women’s Day

This International Women’s Day, Ryanne is celebrating her mother as well as many friends and family members. These are the women that inspire, support, and nurture her. “They are my mentors, they are my mentees, my friends, my peers, my elders, my family, and my lifelines in an often tumultuous but splendid life,” she says. Every day these women teach her what it means to be a woman and the importance of this role in our world. They inspire her to be brighter, think bigger, and treat the challenges that we all face as opportunities to effect positive change.

This International Women’s Day Ryanne is celebrating them all for the fights they make her have, the beauty the make her see, for believing in her and for listening to her. “I am so grateful for all of the strong, intelligent, thoughtful, expressive, and magical women in my life,” she says.

Ryanne lists the following friends and family members as very inspirational to her: her Mom, Shoshanna, Emmily, Constance, Debra, Danette, Amanda, Amanda, Shona, Veronica, Tasha, Jodi, Tine, Vivian, Tess, Vanessa, Ashley, Annie, Gina, Jessica, Jessica, Jessica, Amy, Katherine, Lisa, Robin, Leona, Meika, Loraine, Hazel, Normajean, Scarlett, Carolina, Aftab, Sashia, Steph, Marny, Tanja, Tara, and Erin.

Ryanne says she will continue to play a role in empowering young women to find their voices, take responsibility for their actions, and become strong, self-reliant, and confident.

Ryanne and Female Empowerment

To her, female empowerment means working with your entire community, all genders, races, and cultural identities, to create a space where each individual can be respected for who they are, who they would like to become, and the things that they have experienced in the past. She believes that female empowerment means that you take an active role in your community and work to ensure that the voices of your community members are being heard as much as your own voice.

Celebrating Women at UBC: Dr. Aoife Emily Hart

Emily (2)

Dr. Aoife Emily Heart is a lecturer in the English Department at the University of British Columbia, with research specializations in comparative literature, trans/gender theory, and human rights issues. She is interested in feminist philosophy, queer studies, transgender awareness, and education.

She is inspired by the multitude of women authors, poets, and scholars who wrote their lives against and despite whatever opposition tried to stop them.

She believes that the best form of activism is education. As such has adopted an ethics of honesty about herself and her experiences as a trans-woman who has lived on three different continents.

She is passionate about an intersectional, inclusive feminism that challenges the assumptions, prescriptions, and definitions of who women are and what we must be. She champions diversity not reduction, information not antagonism, and most of all dialogue and collaboration.

Celebrating Women at UBC: Malaika Kapur

Malaika is a second year Sauder student from Tanzania.

Malaika believes empowerment of women is not merely about women’s liberation, it is a declaration of the possibilities that open up for a world that decries gender bias and allows for a balance of energies that supports new age thinking.

Malaika and International Women’s Day

This International Women’s Day she is celebrating Aung San Suu Kyi, Oprah Winfrey, and her own grandmother, among many others. She says, “the entire planet seems to be breathing a new energy!” She believes that there is this new, evolving world opinion allowing a greater voice for women across all sections of society and that this is to be celebrated. Victor Hugo said: “There is no force so powerful as an idea whose time has come!” The idea has arrived and the time is now.

Malaika and Passions

Born in India and raised in Tanzania, Malaika’s deepest longing is to be able to contribute her efforts, talent, energies into humanitarian work and sustainable projects. ‘The Tanzania Heart Babies Project’ that she was fortunate to initiate on campus with fellow UBC students, enables her to channel her passion for alleviating human suffering. The project raises funds for open-heart surgeries for Tanzanian children born with congenital heart defects, giving them a new lease of life.

Information about Tanzania Heart Babies:

“The Tanzania Heart Babies Project is a poignant story of the plight of children suffering from congenital heart defects in Tanzania. Having lived in Tanzania for most of my life and having had the opportunity to complete my higher education in Vancouver, it is hard for me to visualize a world where children would die needless deaths even before the age of 21. Children in Tanzania suffering from congenital heart diseases die premature deaths because of lack of finance and unavailability of pediatric cardiac surgery facilities. As a passionate team of students from across 7 countries and 4 different continents, we have gathered together to champion this noble cause, share the stories of these children, and strive to add a chapter to the life books of these children. This is for their family, their friends, and for those who deeply care about these children suffering from heart crippling diseases.”  – Malaika Kapur

To find out more about Malaika’s fantastic, life-changing project check out their website.

Celebrating Women at UBC: Dr. Dana Grecov

Dr. Grecov and Passions

Dr. Grecov is an Associate Professor in Mechanical Engineering, specialising in fluid mechanics and rheology, with applications to non-Newtonian fluids, industrial flows and bio-fluid mechanics. She is very passionate about her research which revolves around hydro-dynamics in heart valves, synovial fluid in the knee and lubrication both in the human body and in industry. She is also interested in the modelling of different industrial flows and complex fluids.

Dr. Grecov is also passionate about teaching. She finds it rewarding to see how students learn and how they use what they are taught in class. She notices that students in their final years of study or those about to go on Co-op have a particular interest for learning because they know that they will be using the skills.

In her spare time, Dr Grecov likes spending time with her family, taking her son to soccer, travelling, reading, and working out.

Dr. Grecov and International Women’s Day

This International Women’s Day, Dr. Grecov is celebrating Marta Salcudean, a fellow Romanian engineer who worked at UBC until recently. Dr. Grecov describes her as the perfect role model because, although she is now retired, she is still active. During her working years she was the first woman in Canada to become head of a Mechanical Engineering department. She was also a UBC Vice President twenty years ago. Her extraordinary research contributions also inspired Dr. Grecov and many other engineers. Dr. Grecov also celebrates her mentors, both male and female, who have helped her come this far in her career.

Dr. Grecov is passionate about encouraging more young girls to become interested in engineering. She feels that a lot of high schools attempt to deter females from majoring in engineering, particularly mechanical engineering and so she makes an effort to inform high school students about the opportunities that a career in engineering can offer for both boys and girls.

Dr. Grecov and Changes

In the future, Dr. Grecov would like to see eradication of violence against women. She is aware that murders and attacks on women are disproportionate to men and and cites the 1989 Montreal Massacre as an example. She would also like to see more equality in economics, politics, and education. However, she believes that it is important we take into account the differences in genders in our quest for equality.

Celebrating Women at UBC: Nicole Wayara

Nicole and Passions

Nicole Wayara is a 4th year Gender, Race, Sexuality & Social Justice Studies major at UBC. When she is not studying, Nicole is an active member of the RAGA collective (Race, Age, Gender & Autobiography), a sister in the Delta Gamma sorority, and an invested member in a project titled AWRS (the Academic Well-being of Racialized Students). Outside of UBC, she volunteers with Women Against Violence Against Women (WAVAW). In her spare time she enjoys cooking, writing, and practicing kick-boxing.

Nicole is passionate about anti-racism and anti-violence initiatives, critical race theory, youth empowerment, and a variety of decolonization efforts that are in solidarity with Indigenous peoples. She is passionate about working towards a society where women can live without the threat of violence (particularly sexualized violence). “Sexualized violence against women is just too prevalent, too close to home, too important for me not to put my energy into. It’s an epidemic that effects half the population globally. We should all be passionate about ending violence against women,” she says.

Nicole would like to see more anti-violence workshops at local high schools and middle schools. She likes the idea of fostering responsibility towards systemic change by starting with young people. “They’re not apathetic, they’re capable, they are intelligent, they can engage with it,” she says.

Nicole and Women’s Issues

This International Women’s Day, Nicole is celebrating her mother who raised four daughters as a single working parent and impressed upon them the concept of self-determination. She is also celebrating the work of all women of colour. She sees them as role models who kick ass on a daily basis despite the patriarchy and racism that exists.

For Nicole, female empowerment is a process of learning and unlearning. She has learned more about her own strength, capabilities, desires, and they’ve translated into her acceptance of who she is. She is aware, that even as feminists we can still enact patriarchy; we all say or do things that are not in line with supporting the efforts of women around us.

Nicole also believes that self-care is really important. She feels that female empowerment is her taking care of her own needs as well as those of other women.  She thinks that within circles of friends, within our own communities, we can enact female empowerment with the words we say and the actions we do to better ourselves.

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.

Celebrating Women at UBC: Fatima Jaffer

Fatima and Passions

Fatima Jaffer is a PhD Candidate in the Interdisciplinary Studies Graduate Program, Editor-in-Chief at Cutting Edge (ISGP’s student-run, peer-reviewed journal) and a Liu Scholar at UBC’s Liu Institute. She is interested in Interdisciplinary Studies focused on media, gender, race, and sexuality, particularly post-colonial studies, critical race theory, and queer of colour critique.

Fatima is passionate about photography as a tool of anti-racist, feminist, social change and history as a way of finding out what came before and how historical events factor in to what we experience today. She finds that history and photography are interlinked in many ways, for example, she takes photographs to create and add to social justice archives and to contribute to collective memory of events that would otherwise go unnoticed; it is her form of activism. She also likes to document social interactions – informal gatherings, celebrations, communities.

Fatima and International Women’s Day

This International Women’s Day, Fatima is celebrating her mother, the first feminist she knew when she was growing up in Kenya. She has also drawn inspiration from many Indigenous women and women of colour since the early 1990s – women at the forefront of anti-racist, intersectional feminist movements, both in Canada and abroad. She respects these women because they are the ones who challenged and supported her and helped her develop her activism and scholarship. “The biggest lesson these women taught me is that integrity begins with accepting and always remembering that knowledge is never complete,” Fatima says.

Fatima and Feminism

Fatima thinks we should not see “women” as a simplistic category but rather realise how the category hides the multiple identities, realities, and experiences it is comprised of. Fatima worked on fighting for the Divorce Act in the 1990s which is what inspired her to think more about intersectionality. “Are we considering Indigenous women, immigrant women, refugee women, women with disabilities, women of all incomes, queer women?” she questions.

Fatima says that struggles against colonialism in both formerly colonised countries and ongoing settler colonial states, like Canada, are the significant achievements in the relatively recent history of feminism. She gets inspiration from women in the Third World, who were key to anti-colonial struggles in the early 1900s. During the 1938 Lima Conference of Latin American States, delegates pushed for the creation of the Commission on the Status of Women at the UN.

Fatima and Social Justice

Fatima believes that we need to move away from development and progress narratives and broaden our definitions of feminism and social justice while learning to employ a multiplicity of strategies and tactics in our struggles. As a feminist, Fatima does not believe in the idea of female empowerment. She explains that “female” connotes biological gender and thus robs women of individuality and “empowerment” is a misused concept in development discourses. It creates a hierarchy of “empowered” and non-empowered women and continues to compare women in terms of men.

Fatima is passionate about social justice because it is about the dismantlement of the systems of power relations that create inequities, inequalities, and hierarchies. Social justice also means looking at the complex ways in which we are linked, she believes. “A struggle for empowerment locks us into the very systems of power that create the hierarchies in the first place,” Fatima says. If we strive for “empowerment” we are only looking to accumulate privilege and enter into the very systems of oppression that we should try to dismantle.

Celebrating Women at UBC: Dr. Catherine Rawn

Photo credit: UBC Psychology Department

Photo credit: UBC Psychology Department

Dr. Catherine Rawn is a tenure-track faculty member in the department of Psychology who specialises in teaching and educational leadership. She teaches undergraduate courses as well as a graduate seminar on Teaching of Psychology. In her spare time, she enjoys running marathons, cooking, and building valuable friendships.

Dr. Rawn is passionate about harnessing the power of education to enlighten and inspire people toward personal growth and building a better world. She is also passionate about issues like access to education, particularly for women from low income backgrounds or rural areas. She believes that education can offer not only financial stability for women, but also a deeper, more complex view of the world, and a powerful source of identity. “For me personally, education means freedom,” she says. Dr. Rawn is also interested in the subtle ways that gender stereotypes hinder expectations of ones self, others, our body image, and the biases against women that choose a child-free life.

Dr. Rawn and Inspiration

As she was growing up, Dr. Rawn had some amazing teachers and managers who inspired her to keep learning and push beyond her limits. One woman in particular was her high school teacher, Eileen Clinton; Dr. Rawn is currently in the process of establishing a bursary for UBC Arts students in her name. Dr. Rawn says she was inspiring because she challenged the status quo in her daily life, invited students to question their deepest held assumptions about the world, created opportunities for learning inside and outside the classroom, and encouraged students to be their best.

Dr. Rawn and International Women’s Day

Dr. Rawn celebrates the strong women who have personally affected her life, including family, friends, past teachers, and advisors. Additionally, she looks to women who have, and continue to, stand up for education rights, including Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Malala Yousafzai and, from within her own discipline, Mary Whiton Calkins, who was the first female president of the American Psychological Association despite being denied her PhD because of her sex.

Dr. Rawn also celebrates women who push through sexist barriers to hold powerful and visible positions in male-dominated professions. For example, she recalls noticing female politicians such as Sheila Copps (former Deputy Prime Minister) and Kim Campbell (Canada’s first and only female Prime Minister) when she was growing up. Before she had awareness of their politics, the fact that powerful women existed and put themselves out there made them role models and symbols of what is possible for women, inspiring the next generation.

Dr. Rawn and Female Empowerment

To Dr. Rawn, female empowerment means not feeling limited by gender role expectations, not feeling pressured to have children or to dye her hair as it starts to grey, confidently negotiating and acknowledging her legitimate expertise while wearing heels if they go with her outfit. “Female empowerment is looking in the eye the man—the teacher—who told my high school class that janitors but not CEOs came from the neighbourhood in which I grew up, telling him he was wrong and not telling him that over 15 years later I still feel the heat of my shame that day,” she explains. It means speaking up for equitable treatment for people of all genders, sexual orientations, races, abilities, socioeconomic status, and any other dimension of diversity, so that all people can live to their full potential.

Celebrating Women at UBC: Alexandra Zuur

Alex and Involvement

Alex is a third-year student in the UBC School of Social Work and is doing her practicum as a Community Services Worker at the John Howard Society. This involves her communicating and working closely with prisoners and assisting them in their transition back to normal life after their release. In her spare time she plays netball, goes running, works part time for Vancouver Coastal Health, and is involved with the First Nations Studies Students Association.

Alex and Passions

Alex is passionate about justice and the way justice can be facilitated and supported through systems and structures. Her work with prisoners in Vancouver has helped her to understand more about the injustices present in the criminal justice system and the idea of restorative justice. She says that the prisoners she met are among the most polite and kind men she has ever encountered. And although some have made mistakes, there is a clear correlation between the faulty justice system and the demographics of the inmates – many are First Nations people affected by the Residential School system.

She is also passionate about fighting discrimination against Indigenous people both in Canada and her home country of New Zealand. She did a lot of working around the ‘Sauder frosh week chants’ and found that discrimination and oppression of Indigenous people and women are so embedded into our society (as a result of colonisation and its ongoing effects) that it’s almost impossible to begin fixing the situation and educating people on the issues at play. Alex is also passionate about education – particularly educating young people about sexual health, relationships, gender identity, and sexuality.

Alex and International Women’s Day

Alex says she is celebrating her mother and all the other women in her life who have played motherly roles both as she was growing up and as an adult. She also acknowledges the non-traditional motherhood roles that we all have towards each other.

Alex believes that one of the most positive changes that has occurred for women is the ability to choose. Being able to have freedom to choose your education and career is something Alex really appreciates, especially after spending a lot of time with her grandmother, who wishes that she could have had the same experiences that Alex is able to have now.

Alex and Changes

Alex wants to see changes in the way we treat and portray indigenous women in the media. She says we should acknowledge the discrimination that we, as a society and as individuals, impose on First Nations women and the ways that colonialism is still present in contemporary society.