Goldcorp has made a gift of C$500,000 to the University of British Columbia (UBC) Faculty of Applied Science to support a new “Goldcorp Professorship in Women in Engineering.” The professorship focuses on promoting engineering as a creative and rewarding career, UBC said in a press release announcing the gift. The professorship will begin its recruiting program in the summer of 2014.

Recruiting will reach out to high-school students, parents, and counselors to encourage students with aptitude in science, engineering and math to pursue a career in those fields. UBC anticipates that the professorship will help nation-wide efforts to address the Canadian skills shortage of approximately 100,000 engineers that is predicted by Engineers Canada by 2020.

Through a targeted recruitment strategy, UBC aims to increase the number of women enrolled in its engineering program from the national average of 20% to 50% over the next five years. “It’s an extremely ambitious goal, but not one that is outside of our reach, with some dedication,” Dean of UBC’s Faculty of Applied Science Marc Parlange said. “Goldcorp has a history of promoting female leadership, diversity and inclusion, and we are confident that with this partnership, we can make great strides forward.”

Goldcorp Senior Vice President of Technical Services Maryse Belanger was instrumental in generating support for the initiative. “Goldcorp’s commitment to developing our people is one way to create a competitive advantage,” Belanger said. “Programs that promote diversity and technical excellence are a logical step as we look to address the looming skills shortage in our business. This is also well aligned with our aim to create social and economic benefits in the communities where we operate.”

Goldcorp offers an enterprise-wide program to women called “Creating Choices” that offers women across the company a tool to unlock potential, build skills, and achieve personal and professional fulfillment. To date, more than 1,000 Goldcorp women have completed the program, with 66% of participants reporting improved self-esteem, 72% reporting increased communication skills, and 75% setting new goals for themselves. 

Creating Choices has had a special impact in locations where women en-counter cultural hurdles. Women in Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Canada and the United States have participated, and in 2013, the program was extended to Goldcorp operations in Chile and Argentina.