During the 2018 Ontario Provincial Election, Lovina Srivastava wanted an answer to the following question: “Of the 124 sitting MPPs, how many have a technical background?” Much to her dismay, the answer was zero. According to a CTV analysis of the 2019 Federal Election candidates’ occupation, “Business” took the top spot at 27%, meanwhile, engineering didn’t even show up in the analysis. Little has changed since then – in the 2021 Federal Election, of 1266 candidates, only 14 were engineers.

Democracy is one of the foundational systems through which change is mediated. With the growth of emerging technologies such as blockchain, renewable energy, and autonomous devices, not having engineering representation in this system can lead to ghastly consequences.

In this session, we introduce attendees to the state of engineering representation in politics, and call out barriers that prevent them from engaging in this critical forum. Then, we explore the benefits that technical expertise offers and how it can contribute to socio-technological transformation. We conclude with calls-to-action for students, professionals, and policymakers alike.

This session will be led by three powerful women at different points on this common path at the cross-section of STEM and civic engagement: Lovina Srivastava, an engineer & consultant with 25+ years experience, and the Liberal candidate for Nepean in the 2018 election; Cecilia Odonkor, a biomedical engineer and a passionate advocate for diversity in STEM; and Jasmine Shaw, an engineer and entrepreneur whose mission is to create systems that enable women in STEM to achieve their full potential.