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An Old Boy’s Club

When engineering students returned to Toronto’s Ryerson University this fall, they were struck by a conspicuous absence: the lively enthusiasm of Dr. Galina Okouneva.

Okouneva, who had until recently been employed as an associate professor in Ryerson’s Department of Aerospace Engineering, was well known among students for the development of an exciting lab: a demonstration of shock waves in a wind tunnel. She also helped send a Ryerson student team to Huntsville, Alabama to participate in a moon-buggy competition sponsored by NASA – one of only two student teams from Canada to take part.

“Dr. Okouneva is an excellent mentor,” says Aradhana Choudhuri, a former engineering student, who is currently employed at the Canadian Space Agency in Montreal. “She was one of my Masters’ thesis guides, and her unrelenting dedication to her students’ learning and research has been demonstrated repeatedly.”

Okouneva was also highly regarded in the arena of space research. In 2008, was awarded, as the Principal Investigator, a unique, peer-reviewed National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) grant. Worth almost $400,000, delivered over a period of three years, it was the largest grant in space research ever awarded to any professor in her department.

Nevertheless, this past May, Okouneva was denied tenure – one of five women, in fact, who were recently denied tenure at Ryerson. The Ryerson Faculty Association is currently bringing her case before an Ontario arbitrator.

“Sadly, engineering, at Ryerson at least, is still very much an ‘old boy’s club,’” says Dr. ...