Thursday, October 20, 2022

Elsie MacGill - Radio to Podcast with The Lakehead ESS!

Elsie MacGill became fascinated with radio when she was a young woman and it made her want to explore the engineering possibilities around it. As a result, she decided to pursue electrical engineering. I often make the comparison of her fascination with radio as similar to the fascination many have with the arrival of the iPhone or Android phones - it was amazing! It was the future! 

While Elsie ended up working on airplanes instead of radio and radio applications, radio was a medium that she was well aware of and able to use in her lifetime in various contexts, Her story has been featured on radio and via radio interviews, some of which I have contributed to. 

But now, with the help of the Engineering Student Society of Lakehead University, Elsie's story has moved into the podcast world! I had the opportunity and pleasure of chatting about Elsie with the society's VP Publications Amanda Pacholczak earlier this month, and the podcast is now available on Spotify:

Check it out and see what you think! And, while you're there listen to the other episodes and learn more about the Engineering Student Society of Lakehead University!

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Upcoming Presentation with CFUW Ottawa: Who was the Queen of the Hurricanes: The Fearless Elsie MacGill?

I am really excited to announce that on November 3rd, 2021 I will be doing a presentation for the Canadian Federation of University Women's London Club on Elsie. This presentation will focus on here wartime work and also on the creation of the book. 

If you are interested in attending the event is both virtual and free. You can register here.

Looking forward to a wonderful evening!


Saturday, October 31, 2020

Elsie fact #30: Women in STEM

Women in science, technology, engineer and math or STEM have met many challenges. There are a number of blockades that they encountered throughout their education and professional lives, with some disciplines being more problematic than others.

It took Elsie a long time to come to terms with the idea that there was discrimination within engineering, in part because she had never really stopped to assess her own experience. When she did, she realized that she had face discrimination and that she needed to advocated for women in this regard as well. 

One thing that she was completely against was the idea that she was a "woman" engineer. She would make it quite clear to anyone who was surprised that she was an engineer that that was their problem not hers. 

Friday, October 30, 2020

Elsie fact #29: International Women's Day

The United Nations declared 1975 International Women's Year (IWY). Elsie continued her feminist activism and used the momentum of this year to advance a number of her projects. She delivered speeches and encouraged women to seize the potential this year offered for women's advancement. 

It was during this time that she really started to reflect on the challenges for women in engineering. 

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Elsie fact #28: The RCSW Report

The Report of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women was tabled in 1970. It was considered in one media report to be a "bomb". Assessing the report today, there are many gaps that stand out, but when looking at it within its proper historical context, it was a revolutionary document.

Elsie spent an extensive amount of her time after the report was table to see its recommendations implemented. She gave speeches and worked with existing and new women's groups to advocate for the changes needed. She realized that the report was not the end of the work, only the beginning. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Elsie fact #27: Abortion

One issue that Elsie really championed during The Royal Commission on the Status of Women was a woman's right to abortion. While the RCSW was working abortion was illegal in Canada, and Elsie was against that. In the final report, she supported the recommendations regarding abortion, but took issue with the fact that they did not go far enough. She wanted to see abortion completely decriminalized and made a private matter between a woman and her doctor. 

For more information on the context and issues around abortion in the 1960s see The Abortion Caravan by Karin Wells.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Elsie fact #26: Stop the sex-typing of education

Elsie MacGill was interested in every aspect of The Royal Commission on the Status of Women, even the behind the scenes work required for its administration and coordination. Some of the issues that stood out for her included education. Specifically, she was concerned about women having opportunities to go as far as educationally possible. To do this, she realized that society needed to offer them better support, and provide models for them to emulate in textbooks etc. 

Elsie would continue to advocate for the development of women's full potential throughout her life.