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The purpose of the AWA is to provide a voice for women on campus, opportunities for networking and nurturing among women from different disciplines and at different levels of their academic careers and to celebrate the achievements of academic women.

How did AWA come to be? The following excerpt is from an October 1975 article in Folio and provides a brief account of the history of AWA:

“Two years ago a nonassociation began. A handful of women faculty who knew each other but knew few beyond their small circle decided that it was time for women on academic staff at this University to become acquainted. So the first of many regular dinner meetings was organized, with a small program in which specific items of interest to academic women were raised…

The meetings continued, usually one each month, for two years, with no executive, no organization, no fixed plans. The group, usually fifty to sixty in number, comprised of women of all ages, disciplines, and points of view. Although it rejected at its third meeting the idea of a formal name (probably because one or two preposterous acronyms were suggested), the name “Academic Women’s Association” just grew.

The Institute of Law Research and Reform requested that the “association” make submissions on the questions of matrimonial property and matrimonial support, and submissions were also made on such matters as daycare, all of which was agreed on by a group consensus rather than a formal vote…

But by the time of the conference, “The Economics of Sex Roles”, (Spring 1975) the little nonassociation had already decided to formalize itself. Possibly the group had been evolving towards a formal organization, or perhaps it was precipitated by the tabling of the report of the Senate Task Force on the Status of Women ten days previously. On March 31, after the task force report and its recommendations were discussed, the group decided, literally and spontaneously as a group, that it was time to organize, if organization was what was needed to see that the report and its recommendations were not to be conveniently buried in the well-known tangle of campus communities…”


To continually strive towards achievement of AWA’s purpose of advocacy, networking and nurturing, the following principal objectives were delineated:

Achievement of Purpose

  • to solicit, research, assess, and act on issues that relate to academic women;
  • to plan and implement educational and policy interventions to address relevant issues;
  • to support and mentor undergraduate and graduate women students;
  • to provide networking and support opportunities for academic women;
  • to celebrate and honour the efforts of women who have created a dynamic and caring scholarly community;
  • to provide student scholarships;
  • to support University daycare programs; and
  • to organize informative programming activities.

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