To mark International Women’s Day on March 8, UCW hosted an online panel discussion where women in the University’s community, members of the senior leadership team and two MBA students, came together to discuss gender-specific challenges, stereotypes and barriers they have had to overcome in their lives and careers, and how they are committed to challenging gender inequality.

Since it was founded in 2004, University Canada West has always strived to lead the way when it comes to gender equality in the workplace.

“One of the smartest decisions an organization can make is to invest in women,” said Brock Dykeman, UCW President and Vice-Chancellor. “We have had a 30% hiring increase of women since July 2020. More than two-thirds of our senior leadership team are women and we have seen tremendous growth in the last year.”

In total, 65% of employees at UCW women and 54% of UCW students are women.

“Our goal has always been to empower women to become business and community leaders,” Brock said.

In 2020, UCW established the Women in Leadership MBA Award, a scholarship for women who have shown exceptional potential success as leaders. The initiative was spearheaded by Cyndi McLeod, CEO of UCW’s parent company Global University Systems Canada, and UCW has invested half a million dollars to support women in furthering their education.

“When you invest in women, you invest in the future of your company,” Cyndi said. “And now is the time to empower women leaders.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has posed many challenges over the past year, but it has also highlighted how much work remains to be done to close the gender divide. According to a recent Royal Bank of Canada study, the fallout from the pandemic has pushed women’s participation in the workforce to its lowest level in 30 years.

“As a woman who has spent the better part of the last three decades fighting to earn a seat at the table and working to empower women in the workplace, I find this disheartening,” Cyndi said.

Cyndi has held senior leadership positions in several public post-secondary institutions in Canada. In 2015, she helped establish GLOW Ed – Global Women in Education, a non-profit professional network of women in international education. In 2017, Cyndi joined Global University Systems (GUS) as Chief Executive Officer in Canada, responsible for the group’s expansion and operations in the country.

“The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is Choose to Challenge,” she said. “I am challenging everyone to do something to help empower a woman – tell another woman what she is doing well, advocate for your female colleagues, mentor a young woman or support women-run businesses.”


Published on Mar. 8, 2021.