The Canadian Archive of Women in STEM / Les archives canadiennes des femmes en STIM

Current main project of CIWES-ICFIS

Background information

The history of women scientists and engineers in Canada is still in its infancy. This can be largely attributed to their invisibility in traditional and established archives, which collected the records of men and tended to privilege their life and work.

Another major obstacle has been these professional women’s inclination to underestimate their own accomplishments, with the result that most did not seek to preserve their papers, and neither did their family, friends, or colleagues. There is a pressing need to provide current and future women scientists and engineers in Canada, and in other countries, with an accurate and inspiring understanding of their past, to learn about the lives and accomplishments of those “who came before them”.

Significant initiatives have recently taken place in Canada to recover and research the lives of women scientists and engineers. A key event was a two day international and interdisciplinary workshop held in 2014 at the University of Ottawa, under the auspices of CIWIS-ICFIS and of the NSERC Regional Chairs for Women and Engineering. INWES-ERI Board members Ruby Heap, Claire Deschênes and Monique Frize led the meeting which ended with the adoption of an action plan aimed at the creation of a National Archive of Women Scientists and Engineers.

Creation of the Archive Portal

As a result of the 2014 Workshop, with our partners at the University of Ottawa and Library and Archives Canada, a new fund called The Canadian Archive of Women in STEM / Les archives canadiennes des femmes en STIM has been created to preserve and provide access to professional material of women involved in STEM activities, artefacts and other digital objects. A bilingual portal was built to provide researchers with a link to all current archival holdings related to women in STEM available across the country – ensuring increased awareness and accessibility. The portal currently has over 300 entries and this number continues to grow.

For more information on the project, please visit the uOttawa website:

Donation of archives
The initiative also asks women currently working in STEM to think about their legacy and donate their personal records to historical archives in order that future generations will know their contributions and be inspired. Please contact the organisation to make arrangements.

Priority Objectives

1. Build an inventory of existing archives of women in Canadian STEM;

2. Develop a guide on how to collect, preserve and donate archives;

3. Run an internet campaign of awareness on the importance of planning the donation of archives;

4. Develop a web site and show examples of archives collected.