Students and staff of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at The University of the West Indies (UWI) join the world to celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD). Commemorated on 8 March each year for over a century, IWD has come to feature an annual theme set by the United Nations: from the first in 1996, “Celebrating the Past, Planning for the Future”; to the current, “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”, and several in between. In parallel, the popular IWD community (https://www.internationalwomensday.com/) promotes hashtagged themes for wide dissemination over social media channels and through very many campaigns: #PledgeforParity (2016), #BeBoldforChange (2017), #PressforProgress (2018), #BalanceforBetter (2019), #EachforEqual (2020), #ChooseToChallenge (2021) and #BreakTheBias (2022). 
 
This year we pause to consider the biases, conscious and unconscious, that have held women back from contributing to, and enjoying, the world as a better place. Perhaps deeply ingrained biases, on the part of both men and women, are partly the cause of the low enrollment rates of women in engineering. Over the years 2018 – 2020 inclusive, for example, there have been twice as many male engineering undergraduate students as female across The University of the West Indies St. Augustine Campus, the University of Trinidad and Tobago, and the College of Science and Technology & Applied Arts of Trinidad and Tobago (calculated from Source: NIHERST STI Indicators[1]). 
 
The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering is committed to breaking the many faces of bias that might be barriers to a rich, enjoyable and productive experience for our students. For the first time in our history, students and staff have collectively committed to understanding more, and doing more, to ensure diversity, equity and inclusiveness. To start with, we pledge to maintain a gender equal mindset, to call out gendered actions or assumptions, to try to positively influence others’ beliefs and actions, and to celebrate women’s achievements. We recognize the value in everyone, that men and women can break pre-existing biases, and that everyone is responsible for breaking them.  
 
Together we draw on the UWI Gender Policy (2018)[2] and the UWI Harassment Policy and Procedures (2019)[3], as well as the guidance of the Campus’ Institute for Gender and Development Studies, in our learning journey; and we join with all other Campus communities who are of like mind. 
 
[1] NIHERST. University Graduates by Qualification and Gender, 2018 – 2020. STI Indicators. Science & Technology Statistical Unit. Available at https://www.niherst.gov.tt/research/research-sti.html. Last viewed 6 March 2022. 
[2] The University of the West Indies. 2018. The UWI Gender Policy: Promoting Gender Justice for All. Available at https://public.portal.uwi.edu/repositories/regulations/_layouts/15/WopiFrame.aspx?sourcedoc=/repositories/regulations/Policies/Policies/Gender%20Policy/UWI%20GENDER%20POLICY%20-%20fined062018.pdf&action=default. Last viewed 6 March 2022.
[3] The University of the West Indies. 2019. UWI Harassment Policy and Procedures. https://sta.uwi.edu/sites/default/files/uwi/Amendments%20to%20the%20Sexual%20Harassment%20Policy%20UWI%20-%20June%202016.pdf
 

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