Algunkin College reserves 30 per cent of the available places in four of the most popular technology programs for women that meet minimum standards for admission.
The "Keeping Seating" initiative opened on Friday and hopes to increase the number of women taking male-dominated programs.
"It is possible to hear comments on reverse discrimination," said Sarah Gauman, a diversity specialist and college specialist.
"But really, this is to make sure that everyone who comes to our school receives a really good education."
A three year pilot project will reserve seats in these programs:
- Technician for electrical engineering.
- Mechanical engineering technology.
- Electro-mechanical engineering technician.
- Technician for computer systems.
Gauen said 30 percent is a critical mass where women are truly engaged in groups and do not feel isolated in classrooms.
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The initiative does not set a limit on the number of women who can take the programs.
If the programs proved to be very popular, Gauen said, they would simply be "open to other places".
"This program has guaranteed recognition of up to 30 percent for women," she said.
On the other hand, if women do not register enough, the remaining places will go to men.
Holly Wilson applauds the project, saying she still remembers how uncomfortable she felt on her first day in electrical engineering.
"[It was an] absolutely intimidating the first day, "said Wilson." It was terrible to go and see guys. "
Wilson, who is now in the third semester, said she is now very cordial with her classmates, but believes that more women will consider applying to know if they will be surrounded by other women.
"There is this small barrier to being frightening, to go to a place that is completely filled with men and feel left out. That scares people," Wilson said.
At present, women only represent about 10 percent of students in each technological program at Algonquin College.
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It's about two to four women per classroom, according to Catherine Rayland, a professor of electrotechnical technology.
She said it is important for young women to trust to continue to teach mathematics and science at high school so they can qualify for engineering programs at colleges and universities.
"Be sure of yourself when you are 9th-degree women and say that you can do this, you can go to these technological fields that are predominantly [filled with] men, "Reylander said.
"You will succeed, you will progress, you will do well".