Encouraging the Next Generation of Women Innovators

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In the days leading up to International Women’s Day, Executive Director Mayrose Salvador had the opportunity to talk to media sites across Canada promoting gender equality and discussing ways to encourage more women to work in STEM.

Women comprise a significant percentage of STEM degrees graduates, yet they are under-represented in STEM careers with 20 per cent fewer women than men. STEM is an important part of society and holds many jobs in the future, which raises the question:

Why aren’t more women involved?

The low number of women in STEM is a bias that self-perpetuates with a lack of interest. It’s the perception that boys are curious, while girls are reserved, that we give boys Lego blocks and girls dolls. Girls are statistically more likely than boys to avoid STEM-intensive programs, which prevents them from pursuing STEM fields. The process of bridging the gap between men and women in the sciences starts with raising interest among the female youth, sending the message that STEM prowess is not limited to just boys and that anyone can succeed in the field.

In her interviews with news coverage, including City News Toronto , CTV Calgary (starts at 24:00), Newstalk 610 CKTB (St Catherines), the Jim Harrison Show (Kamloops), the Jon McComb Show (Vancouver), and Digital Journal, Mayrose explained the importance of getting girls into STEM and engaging them from a young age through education. The best way to introduce them to STEM is through hands-on and inquiry-based learning.

During the interview with CTV Calgary, an example was given on how a simple wind turbine made with easily obtainable inexpensive parts is very effective in teaching electricity. This underscores the importance of education and training that is geared towards hands-on and inquiry based modules.

Pueblo Science has been involved in school STEM clubs and science fairs since inception. One way of raising the engagement level of young girls is to make science camps accessible for them regardless of their socioeconomic status.

“I personally think that there is a lack of role models. Girls need to see what is possible and get advice on how to do it.”

Strong role models and mentorships are important in building an interest in the sciences. We strive to lead by example. From our volunteers to researchers, we have a strong presence of women who are excellent role models. Another way to provide role-models is to bring in accomplished women in science as speakers in schools.

It’s very important to raise awareness of and celebrate successful female role models. An excellent example is Julie Payette who is an astronaut, engineer and currently Governor General of Canada!

Accomplishments and the Future

Pueblo Science has trained over 2,500 teachers in Southeast Asia and the Caribbean since 2011 and we are already gaining traction in these overseas communities as well as in Canada. We are looking forward to launch a new program this year for the indigenous communities in Canada that will allow science professionals to teach fun science to teenage girls.

Pueblo Science getting exposure like this to the general public is extremely exciting. Being able to reach out through the various news outlets for International Women’s Day helps raise the profile for our initiative, and we’re so glad to see Mayrose out there for us!

by Russel Hassan