Canada launches campaign to encourage young women to enter STEM fields
Canadian Science Minister Kirsty Duncan marked the International Day of Women and Girls in Science earlier this month by announcing the launch of a national campaign aimed at encouraging young women to enter science, technology, engineering and mathematics ( STEM ) fields.
The social media campaign and its website use the promotional tagline “Choose Science”. They aim to give young women an opportunity to engage in the sciences. The program offers easy, home-based experiments and science projects that parents, teachers and mentors can use to support these young women and encourage them to seek a future for themselves in research.
The Minister launched the campaign during a panel discussion that included Status of Women Minister, Maryam Monsef; Jennifer Flanagan, CEO of Actua; Amanda Mason of Oculus; and Dr. Angela Schoellig of the University of Toronto.
A culture of curiosity
“On this year’s International Day of Women and Girls in Science, I want to encourage girls and young women to choose science. Choosing science helps to create a culture of curiosity. By asking questions and exploring all opportunities, our young women will be on a road to making discoveries that will change Canada and the world for the better.” Said Minister Duncan. Read her full statement here.
The discussion was hosted at Facebook Canada’s headquarters. It was moderated by Erica Ehm, founder of the Yummy Mummy Club and former Much Music VJ. The panel engaged girls across Canada, including those participating in the University of Toronto’s Engineering Outreach program. The panel discussed how to support young girls and encourage them to choose scientific careers. They talked about how to foster a culture of curiosity in Canada.
Support women and girls to innovate
Kevin Chan, Head of Public Policy, Facebook Canada commented “Inspiring a passion for science and technology among young women is vital to ensuring the world does not miss out on their great ideas. We must prepare and support women and girls to be innovators and leaders in STEM. This is why we are excited to celebrate the International Day of Women and Girls in Science with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Actua and some of Canada’s top female scientists.”
In 1987, only 20 percent of those working in the sciences were women. Today, that number is still only 22 percent, despite an increase in the number of women graduating with STEM degrees. An increase of only 2 percent in a 30 year period is disappointing. This shows that there is still a long journey ahead to make STEM careers a viable option for young women now and in the future.
The Government of Canada is committed to ecouraging employers to create more experiential learning placements in STEM fields. This will provide new opportunities for youth, including young women and Indigenous peoples.