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University of Waterloo | Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Thursday, May 21, 1998

  • Women mathematicians will meet
  • Staff 'Working' program continues
  • Library staff celebrate (olé)
  • . . . and all that jazz
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Women mathematicians will meet

A Celebration of Women in the Mathematical, Statistical and Computer Sciences, to be held at UW tomorrow and Saturday, will provide the first such forum in Canada for professionals in academia, government and industry to meet, form networks and discuss common problems.

Sue Ann Campbell of the applied math department says the idea of the conference grew out of the Women in Math committee at the university. Although similar conferences are held in the United States, "it's happening now in Canada because it takes a certain amount of time to have a critical mass of women interested in this." Organizers are hoping the conference will become an annual event.

The public is invited to attend the Saturday afternoon lecture, "Can Computer Games Help Children Learn Mathematics?" The speaker is Maria Klawe of the University of British Columbia, a computer science professor and UBC vice-president; she's also the founder of E-GEMS, described as "a consortium of scientists, educators and game designers whose goal is to understand how computers can be used to help children learn math and science". Her talk -- including recent research on these issues and demonstrations of some games -- will begin at 2 p.m. in the Theatre of the Arts. Admission is free, and a "fancy dessert party" sponsored by Waterloo Maple follows. Call 888-4908 for tickets.

At last report, some 100 women from across the country -- nearly half of whom will be giving talks -- have registered for the conference, to be held in the Davis Centre. Primarily from academia, the participants include not only scientists in established positions, but also post-doctoral researchers, graduate students and undergraduates. Highlights include plenary talks by Nancy Reid of the University of Toronto and Leah Edelstein-Keshet of the University of British Columbia

Women in math often find themselves among only two or three female professionals in their department, said Campbell, and because of the geographical isolation in this country, may find it difficult to form networks with other women in their area of specialization. One of the goals of the conference is to introduce graduate students to potential role models and mentors, including those in industry and government, she said. To facilitate this, a number of travel scholarships are being offered to Canadian graduate students and post-doctoral fellows attending from outside Ontario.

While most of Campbell's own mentors have been men, "women in male-dominated fields are not always treated as just another colleague", she says. Although women in science face many of the same difficulties as women in the larger workforce, she added, the problems of juggling family and career have some unique twists for academics trying to balance pressures of research and tenure with maternity leaves. "These difficulties are exacerbated in fields where there are not many women, because departments are not used to dealing with issues such as maternity leave."

Staff 'Working' program continues

A five-session series in the "Working" training program for UW staff members will be running in June, and special invitations have gone out to staff members who are new on campus.

"Many staff on campus have attended the program over the past few years," says a letter they received from the staff training and development committee. "Working is a five-part series of seminars, each one-half day in length. The sessions are designed to help you to develop personal leadership abilities." The five sessions cover basic principles, "listening to understand clearly", giving feedback, "getting your point across" and "resolving issues with others: tried and true methods of resolving possible difficulties before they turn into serious conflicts".

Katrina Maugham of the human resources department sends a reminder that the new staff who received the letter should sign up for "Working" by May 26, which is next Tuesday. After that, if there's still space for the June series, "we will open it up to staff who haven't got around to taking Working yet," she says. But she notes that some recent sessions have been cancelled for lack of registrations, so maybe everybody who intends to take the program has now taken it, except the newcomers.

Library staff celebrate (olé)

Trellis, the new computer system for the libraries of UW, Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Guelph, has been running for three weeks now, and today staff from the three institutions' libraries take time out to celebrate and party. The music and menu will be Tex-Mex; the event runs from 1 to 4 p.m. at Federation Hall. (Buses will bring U of G staff over to join in the festivities.)

"We have already received many positive comments," systems librarian Mark Haslett wrote in a memo a few days ago:

It is good to be able to say that we have already received some significant constructive input on ways of improving TRELLIS and access to it via the TUG Libraries Web Site. TRELLIS looks good. We hope it will be even better by September. Many people have helped get us to this position. They all deserve a strong round of applause.
(TUG? That's the Tri-Universities Group of UW, Guelph and WLU.)

As predicted, there have been some teething problems, and I understand that staff across the libraries have been working long hours to deal with bugs. Among other novelties, there's been a surge in demand for materials from the three-library Annex in Guelph, now that books there are easier to identify and request. And I'm told that at least one library patron, familiar with the old keyboard-bound WatCat, had to be shown how to use a computer mouse, by a library staff member who managed to restrain the giggles.

. . . and all that jazz

Co-op students will be sorry to hear that the Access computer system that lists jobs and other urgent data is still down, as it has been all week. Dave Thomas of the co-op education and career services department says the problem is "a technical difficulty moving the files from the main system to the Access system", an add-on to a creaky old arrangement that's overdue to be retired. Technicians thought they had things fixed last night, but apparently not, he says this morning. Work is continuing. And no one will be more relieved than he when Access is replaced, round about next winter term, with the planned new computer system for co-op.

Faculty members in Ontario's community colleges are voting today on whether to give their union -- the Ontario Public Service Employees Union -- a strike mandate. The 6,500 professors, who haven't had a pay increase since 1992, before the Social Contract, are looking at a "final offer" from the college management that includes a 3 per cent general pay increase, plus more for faculty who have hit the maximum salary level, currently $62,000. OPSEU is asking for more money and for job security guarantees, as the colleges, like Ontario's universities, try to cope with big cuts in funding.

Two academic talks are scheduled for 3:30 this afternoon:

And that's about it; seems like a quiet day.


Editor of the Daily Bulletin: Chris Redmond
Information and Public Affairs, University of Waterloo
credmond@uwaterloo.ca | (519) 888-4567 ext. 3004
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