The Society of Canadian Women in Science and Technology (SCWIST) was founded in Vancouver BC in 1981 by six women: Mary Vickers, Hilda Ching, Abby Schwarz, Mary Jo Duncan, Diana Herbst, and Maggie Benston. SCWIST is a volunteer non-profit organization incorporated under the BC Societies Act; in 1984 it was registered as a charity under the federal Income Tax Act. It continues as an active organization.
SCWIST's mandate is to promote, support and empower women in the fields of science and technology. To this end, the Society works (i) to promote equal opportunities for women in scientific, technological and engineering careers; (ii) to improve social attitudes on the stereotyping of careers in science and educate the public about careers in science and technology; and (iii) to assist educators by providing current information on careers and career training, science and scientific policies. It realizes these goals through the organization of conferences and networking events, delivery of public educational outreach programs, production of resource material (videos, publications and handbooks), liaison with other organizations, and participation in granting, advocacy and advisory bodies.
From the six founders in 1981, membership in SCWIST grew rapidly to approximately 160 by 1984; subsequently, membership increased more slowly, reaching approximately 200 by 1993. The Annual General Meeting ‚Äì held each spring and open to all members of the Society ‚Äì votes on major decisions and elects the Executive Board of Directors. The Board is headed by the Society's president and meets regularly in Vancouver, while much of the on-going work of SCWIST is carried out by a number of standing and ad hoc committees appointed by the Board. Since 1992 SCWIST has maintained a permanent Resource Centre in Vancouver.
Major milestones in SCWIST history include the production of the Registry of Skilled Women, BC and Yukon (1983); the organization of the first National Conference on Women in Science and Technology (1983); the development of the following educational programs: Girls in Science (1984), Ms. Infinity (1990), and Project Tomorrow (1993); the establishment of the SCWIST scholarship (1986)--renamed the Maggie Benston Scholarship in 1991; the opening of a Resource Centre (1992); and the launching of the SCWIST web site (1997).