Researchers at the University of Waterloo are being given an opportunity to change the face of their faculty with new grants aimed at empowering women not only in the classroom, but across the world.

Last spring, the university joined the United Nation's HeForShe campaign, which aims to improve gender equity by getting men and boys to support initiatives that promote fairness. UW is part of the UN's Impact 10x10x10 framework that involves 10 university presidents, 10 heads of states and 10 corporate leaders to get involved.

Diana Parry is a special advisor on gender and women's issues to the university's president. She spoke to CBC Radio's Morning Edition about new research grants aimed at improving equality on campus. 

'There's an opportunity to share the knowledge that we generate.' - Diana Parry, University of Waterloo

"We've made three commitments to improving gender equity at the University of Waterloo. Those commitments are to increase the number of girls and women in our STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) outreach experience activities, increase the number of female faculty that we have on campus and then increase the number of women in positions that lead the university."

Parry said a number of very specific initiatives will help the university reach their goals.

"Across all of them is a need for research that investigates but also addresses gender equity."

'Help us address those issues'

There are eight grants worth up to $10,000 during a one-year period available to researchers and Parry said she hopes researchers will come forward to take advantage of the opportunity.

"We're just looking to fund research across a broad diversity of topics that will help us identify gender equity issues on campus, but also solutions to help us address those issues."

For example, a computer science professor would be able to take a grant to better understand why fewer women engage in this subject versus men with the hopes that funding would not only identify problems, but also find out how to get women involved.

'We're hoping for a diverse group of applicants.' - Diana Parry, University of Waterloo

"There's an opportunity to share the knowledge that we generate," Parry said, adding this information would be available to everyone involved in the 10x10x10 campaign.

The goal is to have a large impact with these grants that goes beyond what happens at the Waterloo campus, she added.

The grants are available to all researchers at the university who are interested in a gender equity issue.

"We're hoping for a diverse group of applicants," she said. 

The university has five years to complete their goals and will be in contact with the UN to ensure they're on the right track throughout the process.

Any full-time faculty are welcome to submit an application at the university's HeForShe website or they can also contact Parry by phone at 519-888-4567, ext. 33468, or via email at dcparry@uwaterloo.ca.