Experts: International Women's Day | March 8


Published: 5Mar2021

This year, the theme for the International Women’s Day, “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world,” celebrates the tremendous efforts by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and highlights the gaps that remain. Women of the world want and deserve an equal future free from stigma, stereotypes, and violence; a future that’s sustainable, peaceful, with equal rights and opportunities for all. (UN Women)

Here are some experts from McGill University that can provide comment on this issue:

Activism and social justice

Chloe Garcia, Sessional Instructor, Department of Integrated Studies in Education

Many youth digital activists are doing incredible work educating their peers about sexual and gender-based violence issues. Their efforts are brave given the tumultuous digital landscape and the emotional labor of activist work. But what they are doing is necessary if we want social change. In the school setting, we need to do better at talking with youth about sexual and gender-based violence through social justice-oriented, critical sexualities education lenses. All too often, we see or hear about sex education being pushed to the edge of the curriculum, skimmed through, or ignored. This must change.”

Chloe Garcia is a recent PhD graduate and a sessional instructor in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education. Her research revolves around digital and media literacies, youth digital media products, sex education and sexual and gender-based violence. She is currently working on curriculum development and research for the PortraitX initiative, led by the community organization Raison d’Art.

chloe.garcia [at] (English, French)

Yolanda Muñoz, Course Lecturer, Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies

Women with disabilities tirelessly advocate for meaningful inclusion in every social justice movement, and we must not remain an afterthought to the gender equality agenda.”

Yolanda Muñoz is a Course Lecturer at the Institute of Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies, where she has been teaching a course on gender and disability since 2006. She is a Senior Research Associate with the Canada Research Chair in Human Rights and the Environment and has more than 25 years of experience advocating for the rights of people with disabilities in Mexico, Quebec and at the international level.

yolanda.munoz [at] (English, French, Spanish)

Shaheen Shariff, James McGill Professor, Department of Integrated Studies in Education

As we approach the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 crisis, we have learned more about the strength, courage, and resilience of women as they take leadership in the front lines of health care, public policy, mental health and social supports. However, the pandemic has also revealed challenges that women faced through social isolation, lockdowns, and economic downturns. Domestic and sexual violence is reported to have increased, placing many women in precarious situations with fewer access to resources. To that end, our iMPACTS team is working consistently to inform and guide policy at federal, provincial and administrative levels, and provide resources through engagement and empowerment of graduate and undergraduate students in gender-based and social justice research.

Shaheen Shariff is a James McGill Professor in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education and an associate member of the Faculty of Law. Her work is centered on the intersection of education, law, and policy, with a focus on constitutional, human rights and civil law as it impacts educational institutions. In 2020, she received the World of Difference Award from the International Alliance for Women.

shaheen.shariff [at] (English)

Advocacy and representation

Lucy Gilbert, Full Professor, Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Oncology

When I began my career in medicine, there were very few women, especially in surgery. I was inspired by those few women who had broken that glass ceiling. I hope I can do the same for young women today, especially visible minorities. I want women to know that you can have a family and a fulfilling career. The key is believing in yourself and following your passions.”

Lucy Gilbert is a Full Professor cross-appointed to the Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Oncology and the Director of Gynecologic Oncology at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC). She was recently named to the Top Women of Influence for 2021 on the strength of her ground-breaking work on early detection of ovarian and endometrial cancers that could save the lives of countless women.

lucy.gilbert [at] (English)

Allison Gonsalves, Assistant Professor, Department of Integrated Studies in Education

Despite decades of research into women’s participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), men remain over-represented in some fields like physics and engineering. To resolve this seemingly intractable problem, we must interrogate how our societal understandings of gender can construct ideas about who should and should not be scientists, and the conditions these produce for women in male-dominated fields.”

Allison Gonsalves is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education. Her research program focuses on the area of gender and physics education research and investigates the role of science outreach in post-secondary students' identity work in STEM fields.

allison.gonsalves [at] (English)

Valérie Orsat, Full Professor, Department of Bioresource Engineering

The recognition of the leadership of women in their professional fields is important. In my own field of bioresource engineering, we attract a good number of female students (50 percent) that perform very well in their program, yet, once they graduate, the number of practicing women professional engineers drops down. The presence of women in academia is important as they are role models of success for young women.

Valérie Orsat is a Full Professor in the Department of Bioresource Engineering. Her research program addresses the broad spectrum of quality changes that occur during various stages of postharvest handling and food and bio-processing.

valerie.orsat [at] (English, French)

Lisa Overholtzer, Assistant Professor and William Dawson Scholar, Department of Anthropology

Although women had made great strides in their representation within both academic and professional archaeology before the COVID-19 pandemic began, parity had not yet been reached. In fact, in the past 15 years, women – especially those with Canadian degrees – have been hired into tenure-track positions at rates significantly lower than their representation among PhD recipients. Moreover, preliminary data across academia suggests that the pandemic is disproportionately impacting mothers and Black, Indigenous and faculty members of colour (BIPOC) and will exacerbate these existing inequalities.”

Lisa Overholtzer is an Assistant Professor and William Dawson Scholar in the Department of Anthropology, where she strives to bridge disciplinary chasms between archaeological theorists and scientists through the application of geoarchaeological and molecular archaeology analyses to research questions derived from social theories of materiality, agency and practice, and embodiment. Her topics of interest include the study of households and the articulation between the macro- and micro-scales of society; time in archaeology; and gender, ethnic, class, and age-based identities.

lisa.orverholtzer [at] (English, Spanish)

Health and wellness

Alissa Koski, Assistant Professor, Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health

There is a double standard in global health when it comes to measuring progress on gender equality. The metrics used by the United Nations (UN) to assess progress toward achieving gender equality are sometimes difficult to measure in wealthy nations like Canada. This means that, on a global scale, discussion of gender equality often focuses primarily on progress in low and middle-income countries. It is clear that wealthy nations, including Canada, have their own work to do to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.”

Alissa Koski is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health and an Associate Member of the Centre on Population Dynamics. Her research examines the social determinants of women’s health and wellbeing in low-income countries.

alissa.koski [at] (English)

Louise Pilote, James McGill Professor, Department of Medicine, Divisions of Internal Medicine and Experimental Medicine

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of social factors particular to women that increase their risks of infection. Heart disease is no different. Poverty, low education, household crowding, family responsibility are all gender factors that impede with women's ability to prevent heart disease, seek appropriate care and adhere with prescribed drugs and interventions.”

Louise Pilote is a James McGill Professor in the Department of Medicine and a Senior Scientist in the Cardiovascular Health Across the Lifespan Program at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre. She is coordinating the GOING-FWD, a data science, personalized medicine project aimed at improving the health and well-being of men and women funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health and Research (CIHR) and GENDER-NET+, as part of the European EU H2020 initiative.

louise.pilote [at] (English, French)

Leadership and management

Lisa Cohen, Associate Professor, Desautels Faculty of Management

Across multiple studies, I show that work is not always equal for women and this is not because women are in any way less able than men. It is the structures and the ways work is organized that create and maintain inequality. Research on differences in workplace outcomes for men and women often focuses on differences between men and women. It is equally important to focus on how men and women are placed in different locations in the workplace and in different jobs.”

Lisa Cohen is an Associate Professor and Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at the Desautels Faculty of Management. Prior to joining Desautels, she was a faculty member at the London Business School, the Yale School of Management and the Graduate School of Management, University of California, Irvine, where she taught in the areas of strategic human resources, organizational behavior, and communications.

lisa.cohen2 [at] (English)

Melissa Sonberg, Professor of Practice, Desautels Faculty of Management

Much has been written this past year on women being rather effective leaders in times of crisis. Whether effective crisis leadership is truly a ‘female attribute’ or a function of how girls and women learn to think about others before themselves is an interesting question. Perhaps, what we are seeing is that an ability to demonstrate empathy and act with the greater good in mind does achieve the best outcomes – and this should not be a ‘women-only’ competency.”

Melissa Sonberg has enjoyed over three decades of international leadership success across a broad range of corporate, not-for-profit, and academic environments. A seasoned C-suite executive, passionate about transformation and change management, her focus is now on creating positive, and profitable, impact through Board appointments and select business advisory engagements.

melissa.sonberg [at] (English, French)

Science and technology

Alexandra Ketchum, Faculty Lecturer, Institute for Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies

Women and technology, as highlighted by the Feminist and Accessible Publishing, Communications, and Technologies Series, is an important topic in today's society. We must ask ourselves how our technologies – as wide ranging as artificial intelligence, machine-learning, voice assistants, robots, apps and social media) – affect women's rights?”

Alexandra Ketchum is a Faculty Lecturer at the Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies. She is the founder of the Feminist and Accessible Publishing, Communications, and Technologies Speaker and Workshop Series, an initiative seeking to bring together scholars, creators, and people in industry working at the intersections of digital humanities, computer science, feminist studies, disability studies, communications studies, LGBTQ studies, history, and critical race theory.

alexandra.ketchum [at] (English)

Audrey Moores, Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry

International Women’s day is incredibly important to females in the workplace, because it’s a day to reflect on what has been accomplished and what there is still to work on. Women come together as a community and give each other the right to dream, to be ambitious and to feel empowered. I derive an enormous amount of energy and faith from such days.

Audrey Moores is an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry. She is a leading expert in the field of catalysis using metal, metal oxide and biomass-based nanomaterials, with a special emphasis on sustainable processes and use of earth abundant starting materials. She is a member of College of the New Scholars, Artists and Scientists of the Royal Society of Canada and recipient of the 2021 Canadian Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Award for Green Chemistry.

audrey.moores [at] (English, French)

Contact Information

Frederique Mazerolle
McGill University
frederique.mazerolle [at]
Office Phone: 
(514) 398-6693
Mobile Phone: 
(514) 617-8615
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