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University of Toronto answers President Obama's call to increase gender diversity in engineering

On the same day that President Barack Obama hosted the White House's first ever startup demo day, the world's most powerful political leader also announced the start of new initiative aimed at increasing diversity within the field of engineering. 

Over 90 North American universities, including two Canadian schools—the University of Toronto and the University of Waterloo—have agreed to work toward recruiting more women and underrepresented minorities into their engineering programs. 

Each of the 92 schools taking part in the initiative has agreed to a four part action plan that, among other things, calls for the participants to work closer with schools that work with underrepresented populations. 

"Engineers are working hard to find solutions to some of the most critical challenges of our time, including environmental degradation, urban issues, health care and more. We know that including diverse perspectives in the field increases creativity, which in turns drives better, more innovative ideas and approaches for the future," says Michelle Beaton, the associate director of the University of Toronto's Engineering Student Recruitment and Retention Office. 

"U of T is a trailblazer in fostering diversity within the engineering field, and under the leadership of our dean Cristina Amon, we continually seek opportunities nationally and internationally to ensure women and underrepresented minorities are attracted to and thrive in the profession."

According to Beaton, the University of Toronto is well on its way to answering President Obama's call for greater gender diversity. In 2014, 30.6 per cent of the students starting first year classes at the university's Faculty of Engineering were women. Beaton says this the best ratio among engineering schools in Canada.  
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