Margaret-Ann Armour (’70 PhD) was born in Scotland and educated at Edinburgh University. She joined the chemistry department at the University of Alberta in 1979, and from 1989 to 2005 served as assistant chair. Since 2005, Armour has been the U of A’s associate dean of science for diversity. She is the first and only person at the university to hold that role.
For more than a quarter of a century, Armour has been Canada’s premier ambassador of science, volunteering tirelessly to encourage girls and young women to consider careers in the sciences and engineering. She has done this by creating and nurturing a series of initiatives under an umbrella organization called WISEST — Women in Scholarship, Engineering, Science and Technology. Through this program and related activities, Armour is a recognized leader in raising national awareness among school-aged girls, educators, parents and employers of the importance of encouraging women to enter science and engineering.
Her commitment began in 1981, when Armour was one of 20 leaders who studied the low number of women in science. A year later, she formed WISEST. In an era when women represented only 30 per cent of undergraduate science and engineering students and females made up just 10 per cent of the faculty in science and two per cent in engineering, Armour played a pivotal role as a mentor and a significant role model for young women.
Armour is the past chair of CCWESTT, the Canadian Coalition of Women in Engineering, Science, Trades and Technology, and current board chair of the Canadian Centre for Women in Science, Engineering, Trades and Technology (WinSETT Centre). The centre designs and delivers activities to recruit, retain and advance women in the sciences, engineering, trades and technology. She is also chairs the board of governors of St. Stephen’s College at the U of A.
Armour has received a number of awards for her research, teaching and outreach activities, including a 3M Teaching Fellowship, Canada’s premier award for undergraduate teaching; a Governor General’s Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case; and the Montreal Medal from the Chemical Institute of Canada. She was twice named one of the top 100 most powerful women in Canada by the Women’s Executive Network, and received an Innovator Award at the 2011 APEC Summit on Women in the Economy. She was named a member of the Order of Canada in 2006 and has honorary doctorates from the University of British Columbia, the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, MacEwan University, Memorial University of Newfoundland, the University of Edinburgh and the University of Alberta. Armour was selected as one of 23 women to participate in the creation of the Charlottetown 2014 Declaration, a bold new vision for Canada’s next 150 years. In 2016, a new public school in southwest Edmonton was named after Armour. In 2017 she was named a Canada 150 ambassador by the Government of Canada.
For almost as long as there’s been a Canada, there’s been a University of Alberta. Over the next year, in honour of Canada’s 150th anniversary, we’re proudly celebrating the people, achievements and ideas that contributed to the making of a confederation.