FIG Task Force on Under-Represented Groups in Surveying




Past - Present and Future of the ICA Commission on "Gender and Cartography"
by Ewa Krzywicka-Blum and Eva Siekierska

Personalities: Marie Christine Robidoux

American Congress on Surveying and Mapping/National Society of Professional Surveyors Forum for Equal Opportunity sets goals for 2001  
by Gail Oliver, USA

Past - Present and Future of the ICA Commission on "Gender and Cartography"

by Ewa Krzywicka-Blum, Chairperson of CGS, and Eva Siekierska, Vice-Chair of CGS

In 1989, the President of the International Cartographic Association, Dr. D.R.F. Taylor , voiced his concern about  "the disproportionately low participation of women in the ICA", and later said that "if ICA is no prosper and grow, then the Association must attract and involve cartographers who are currently under-represented in its ranks. These include the younger generation of cartographers, cartographers from developing nations, and women cartographers…"

Members of the Task Force with participants from Norwegian "Kartengraphen-Tag" (Cartography Days) in 1990.

Out of this concern came the establishment of the ICA Task Force on Women in Cartography, which subsequently became the ICA Working Group on Gender and Cartography. These were the ICA's first major attempts to address how women's participation in the organisation could be increased.

In 1990, the Task Force undertook an international survey to learn more about the women currently working in cartography and related professions, and the barriers and incentives that contribute to their participation or non-participation in the ICA. About 1,300 questionnaires were sent out, and 600 from women in 34 countries returned. A study entitled "The Participation of Women in the ICA" was published in 1991.

The primary barriers to women's participation were identified as:

  • lack of knowledge about what the ICA is, how it operates and what it has to offer,

  • professional barriers: according to respondents' opinion travel funds are not available at the participants level; they are not encouraged by their employers to be involved in the ICA; most are not in a decision-making position and few have publications,

  • personal barriers: lack of time was frequently cited as a reason for not participating. It is still difficult for many women to balance family responsibilities and their professional life. Many "third world" women have great societal and family barriers to overcome in order to participate in professional organisations.

The primary incentives to the participation of women were identified as:

  • More information about the ICA.

  • The possibility of receiving travel grants that would match those of the employer. Greater participation of women in the ICA Executive Committee, Commissions and structure generally.

  • The holding of regular women-in-cartography sessions at conferences.

The Task Force Report and Recommendations were presented to the ICA Executive Committee at the Bournemouth Conference in 1991. Among this list recommendations that were made two especially effective:

Recommendation: In order to create a more balanced and broader base for participation for the entire organisation, amend the ICA Statutes to include the addition of the following clause: "The promotion of equality of opportunity in all organisational units and at all levels of responsibility within the ICA and its member national organisation."

Result: This amendment was considered by the ICA Executive Committee at the 10th ICA Congress and General Assembly in Barcelona in 1995.

Recommendation: Establish an ICA Working Group on Gender and Cartography.

Result: The ICA Working Group on Women in Cartography was named in 1991 at the ICA 9th General Assembly in Bournemouth with a mandate to promote equality of opportunity in all organisational units and at all levels of responsibility within the ICA and its member national organisations.

During the UN Cartographic Conference for the Americas (New York, 1993) Carol Beaver presented the results of Task Force Study, as well as during the 13th UB Cartographic Conference for Asia and Pacific (Beijing, 1994) paper "Gender and Cartography" prepared by Eva Siekierska .

Next four-years: 1995-1999 were very important period of CGS's (ICA Commission on Gender and Cartography) activity. During international ICA cartographic conferences in Barcelona (1995) and in Ottawa (1999) CGS was organiser of special sessions devoted to gender problems. Gender sessions were also one of the four simultaneous sessions during Wroclaw's Joint Seminar on "Maps for Special Users" organised by CGS in cooperation with ICA Commission on "Maps and Graphics for Blind and Visually-Impaired People" and ICA Working Group on "Cartography and Children".

In 1995 was publicised the first edition of the Directory on Women and Cartography, Surveying and GIS. Next edition was prepared in 1997 and finally in 1998, in electronic form, including an on-line updating capabilities.

During the last XI General Assembly of ICA in Ottawa the programme of CGS's activity for 1999-2003 was discussed. Apart from continuation of following previously defined questions:

  • "to serve as a resource of issues related to gender and cartography",

  • "to facilitate international professional contacts on "gender issues"

  • it was determined a very new point: "to study existing atlases for gender content and problems, keeping in mind the possibility of an ICA world thematic gender atlas".

Summarising the whole profile of activity within ICA - WG on Women and Cartography (1991-1995) and next within ICA Commission on Gender and Cartography (1995-1999) it can be observed that the main: "women" - special field was step by step complemented by issues related to others "under-represented" groups such as "younger cartographers" or "cartographers from developing countries". The Wroclaw's Seminar "Maps for Special Users" (1998) turned participants' attention to possibilities of cooperation between ICA's commissions also in this field. Keeping in memory that ICA subscribes to the 1958 declaration of the 8th General Assembly of the International Council of the Scientific Unions (ICSU) concerning "non-discrimination on the basis of politics, nationality, religion, race and gender" (Statutes of the ICA, art. 1) it seems to be not only fully justified but even responding to public expectations to prepare an ICA world atlas as a very special one, presenting spatial distribution of various, actually "under-represented" groups of people, of course focusing main attention on a problem of women.

Professor Dr. Ewa Krzywicka-Blum (Chair), Department of Geodesy & Cartography, Agriculture Academy, ul. Grunwaldzka 53, Wroclaw 50-357, POLAND, E-mail:

Dr. Eva Siekierska (Co-chair), Mapping Services Branch, Department of Natural Resources Canada, 7 - 701 - 615 Booth Street, Ottawa, ON, Canada K1A 0E9, Email:


Marie Christine Robidoux completed a law degree at Universite Laval (Quebec) in 1977 and was sworn in as a member of the Chambers of Notaries for the Province of Quebec, Canada, in 1978. After practising law for close to 4 years, she moved to Alberta where she started her second career in surveying. She completed a Surveying Technology Diploma (Honours) at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton in 1987, and started surveying as open-pit mine surveyor in a coal mine before getting involved in cadastral surveys and becoming employed with the Alberta office of Legal Surveys Division - Department of Natural Resources Canada in 1990.

Marie Christine received her commission as a Canada Lands Surveyor in 1993. After working in Alberta on Treaty Land Entitlement aboriginal claims, she moved to the Northwest Territories in 1994 to manage the Nunavut Land Claim survey program for the Government of Canada. The Nunavut Land Claim Agreement signed in 1993 is the largest survey program in Canada since the opening of the West in the late 1800's. In 1996 she became manager for all land claim survey programs in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. In 1998, she presented a paper on the Nunavut Land claim survey program at FIG'98 in Brighton, England.

As part of her work on the land claims survey programs, she initiated and developed many training programs in surveying, land administration and GIS for community and land claim land administrators. The delivery of training programs was done in partnerships with Aurora College and Nunavut Arctic College. There is currently an on-going partnership between Legal Surveys Division, Natural Resources Canada and the School of Community Government, Government of the Northwest Territories, to deliver surveying and land administration training programs.

In 1999 the Association of Canada Lands Surveyors became a self-regulating profession and Marie Christine became involved in various committees. She currently is a member of the Continuing Professional Development Committee and of the Practice Review committee. As the association is in its infancy, the work of the CPD committee consists of setting up a CPD program and presenting it to the membership. As for the Practice Review committee, it is currently in the process of identifying the processes and procedures for practice review of the membership.

In October 2000 Marie Christine left the government for employment with All West Surveys Ltd. in Calgary, Alberta. After 10 years in the public sector, she felt the need to change the focus of her career and joined the private sector. All West Surveys Ltd. is very active in servicing the geomatics requirements of the oil and gas industry. With her new company, Marie Christine is responsible for business development in Northern Canada and internationally with a focus on land tenure and land administration, cadastral surveys and the geomatics requirements of the oil & gas industry.

Marie Christine is currently enrolled in a Master of Laws program in Information Technology with Robert Kennedy University of Switzerland through Internet delivery. Her interest with the program rests with intellectual property rights and geographical data available on the Internet which she hopes to be the focus of her thesis.

Her personal interests, besides lifelong learning experiences, include golfing, reading, gardening, cooking and walking/hiking, which she shares with her partner Patricia Gower , a therapist in private practice, and their extended family.

American Congress on Surveying and Mapping/National Society of Professional Surveyors Forum for Equal Opportunity sets goals for 2001

by Gail Oliver

The Forum for Equal Opportunity was established in 1983 as a special committee of the National Society of Professional Surveyors. The group was then known as the Forum for Women in Surveying, but several years ago, the name was changed so that a more diverse group of under-represented individuals would have a forum in which to meet, exchange ideas, and promote the profession. There are currently about 20 active members of the group in the United States.

The Forum for Equal Opportunity moves ahead on meeting their goals for this year. The primary focus of the Forum was recruitment in the surveying and mapping profession for under-represented groups. However, through discussions with Forum members and ACSM student chapter representatives the target audience has expanded to include all who might be interested in a surveying and mapping career.

Dr. Elizabeth Cannon , Professor of Geomatics Engineering at the University of Calgary will start the Forum meeting this year at the 2001 ACSM-CLSA-NALS-WFPS Conference and Exposition in Las Vegas, Nevada by speaking on Gender Diversity in Science and Engineering and its Application to Surveying and Geomatics. This special session will take place on Tuesday, March 20, 2001 from 2 to 5 pm.

The session will address issues such as the current participation of women in science and engineering programs, as well as in the various sub-disciplines such as geomatics. Findings from research conducted on middle and senior high school boys and girls will be presented along with additional findings from university engineering students. These studies were aimed at determining the interest and perceived value in math and science, as well as future career interests and goals. Additional research on retention of women in engineering careers will also be presented. Finally, some novel intervention programs that are aimed at attracting girls into science and engineering fields will be discussed.

The forum members firmly believe that early exposure to the surveying and mapping profession will have an impact later when a student is making a career decision and declaring a major in college.

In order to target the middle and senior high school students the Nevada Association of Land Surveyors School Outreach Committee has volunteered to work with the Forum on inviting and hosting student visitors to the Exhibit Hall at 2001 ACSM-CLSA-NALS-WFPS Conference and Exposition. We are hoping some exhibitors will provide some interactive experiences to provide a lasting impact on the students.

Other activities of the Forum include working with the Girl Scouts of America to establish a Surveying and Mapping Merit Badge. The Girl Scouts were contacted many years ago and were not receptive to working with us. The Forum members believe that times have changed since then and that making contact once again may be worth the effort.

The Forum is also working on a recruitment brochure for use by ACSM and NSPS. The Forum was originally charged with creating a brochure to target under-represented groups into the surveying profession. However, it was later discovered that NSPS was in need of a brochure to target all audiences. The Forum is finalizing the brochure at this time and plans to present the brochure at the 2001 ACSM Conference for approval and funding for printing by NSPS. Copies should be available for distribution from ACSM to be used at outreach programs such as career days at schools and job fairs.

Last, but most important is that the Forum has a scholarship program specifically for under-represented individuals. The scholarship is with the NSPS Foundation/Forum for Women in Surveying. Currently there is $4,125 dollars in the scholarship fund. Each year a $1,000 scholarship is awarded. The scholarship will be given this year at the 2001 ACSM Conference. The NSPS awards committee determines who receives the award. At the fall meeting in Providence, Rhode Island the Hawaii Association of Land Surveyors donated $100 towards the scholarship fund. That donation is the first in the past two years. The fund was started with a $5,000 donation from one benefactor. The donation from the Hawaii Association of Land Surveyors was a nice surprise and we hope to receive more from state associations. There will be a scholarship auction held at the 2001 Conference so any donations or contributions for the Forum Scholarship are welcome.

Contact information for the NSPS Forum for Women in Surveying Scholarship is Gail Oliver , P.L.S., Phone 904-823-2485 or E-mail

Editor: Chair of the Task Force on Under-represented Groups in Surveying
Ms. Gabriele Dasse, Kleinfeld 22a, D-21149 Hamburg, Germany
Fax + 49 40 428 265 265 
Tel. + 49 40 428 265 250
web site:

1/01, month of issue: March

© Copyright 2001 Gabriele Dasse.
Permission is granted to photocopy in limited quantity for educational purposes.
Other requests to photocopy or otherwise reproduce material in this newsletter should be addressed to the Editor.