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WISEatlantic aims to shift gendered STEM stereotypes. We empower girls to consider Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)-based careers by raising their awareness of the diversity of jobs within these fields, and enabling them to visualize themselves working in these fields. WISEatlantic also supports early career women in STEM through professional development and networking opportunities.

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For: Students For: Teachers/Parents For: Women in SETT

STEMaware 2018

Making a career choice can be a difficult decision to make – and WISEatlantic is striving to make that decision a little easier for high-school girls interested in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) career paths. At WISEatlantic’s STEM Aware event October 16, 27 high-school girls learned more about the numerous opportunities that STEM fields have to offer by meeting Mount Saint Vincent University Science graduates who work in those roles. The girls had a chance to talk with role models with job titles ranging from ‘Bone Marrow Transplant Specialist’ to ‘Registered Dietitian.’


Lottie Pascal, a Grade 11 student at Prince Andrew High School, left at the end of the night with a greater understanding of careers she’d never thought of as an option.

“I was really interested in learning about new careers that I might not have considered before: so, for example, stem cell research is not necessarily something that I would have considered before tonight but it definitely peaked my interest,” Lottie said. “If you aren’t too sure about what you want to do and you have an idea of a general field, this really expands your horizons of possible jobs.”

Grade 10 student Rahaf Abu Baker was another attendee who left with a new perspective. “I came to learn and see if I really want to do dentistry or something else – just to open my mind,” Rahaf said, “I thought of university as being a doctor, teacher, engineer, and other jobs like that, but now I know more. There are way more options than I thought there would be.”

The event was an important way for the role models who volunteered their time to meet with the girls to fill a gap they wish had been acknowledged when they were in high school.

Lauren Harrie, a role model at the event, graduated from the Mount with a Bachelor of Science and works as a Bone Marrow Transplant Specialist with the Nova Scotia Health Authority. She says that when you’re in high school, it’s hard to know about all the roles available in STEM because there are many that no one talks about.

“It’s tough to know which different niche areas there are in different concentrations. You hear about the popular, really well-known jobs but there are so many areas that you could go towards,” Lauren says, “I didn’t know a career as a Bone Marrow Transplant Specialist existed while I was doing my Bachelor of Science, so initially this isn’t a career I would’ve imagined myself in – but now that I’m in this field I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”

Tanya Cole was another of the role models who volunteered her time to meet with the girls. She works as a Registered Dietitian in long-term care, but didn’t discover her current career path in dietetics until she had already begun studying business at university. She switched to MSVU’s Applied Human Nutrition program after learning it was an option.

“I really didn’t know what I wanted to do coming out of high-school, and I felt like there wasn’t a lot of opportunities to learn about different careers,” Tanya said. “To be able to have a conversation with somebody, ask questions and find out more about what they did – I think that would have been tremendously helpful to me in high-school.”

This year marked the STEM Aware event’s second anniversary, and it’s an event that NSERC Chair WISEatlantic, Tamara Franz-Odendaal, hopes will continue to grow and builds on from our already highly successful activities for girls in junior high.

“By exposing girls to careers they have never heard of before and by providing them with opportunities to meet local women in these STEM careers, we can help to ensure that the girls will make career choices that are the best fit for themselves. In this way, we are reaching our goal of breaking STEM stereotypes for girls in our region”

In future years, this event will continue to provide girls like Lottie and Rahaf with new perspectives on what a career in STEM fields could look like, and give them a solid foundation on which to make post-secondary and career decisions. But Lauren Harrie wants anyone still worried about their future to remember that their decisions aren’t always as final as they think.

“It’s not an end point ever – you can get to one spot and see what other options are available at that point so I think it’s always constant learning,” Lauren says, “I would encourage anyone to go towards the paths where they see themselves and it’s amazing the sorts of opportunities that will blossom from there.”

A message to our role models:

A huge thank-you goes out to all the role models who make the STEM Aware event possible each year! This year, we’d like to give a special thank-you to the following Mount graduates who spent time talking with attendees and answering their questions:

  • Cynthia Johnston, Quality Leader at the Regional Tissue Bank
  • Erica Fraser, Microbrewer and Biology Lab Instructor
  • Tanya Cole, Registered Dietitian
  • Lauren Harrie, Bone Marrow Transplant Specialist
  • Frank MacDonald, Family Physician
  • Alyssa Doue, Chemistry Lab Instructor

Written by Emily Albert, WISEatlantic Volunteer and Mount student.

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For: Students For: Teachers/Parents For: Women in SETT

Out of This World!

We were excited to participate in Science Literacy Week again this year with our event Out of This World! Explore Space with Local Scientists.

As the theme of Science Literacy week this year was Space, we decided to host an event that showcased the space-related research happening right here in Atlantic Canada! Our event featured Dr. Svetlana Barkanova, a Physicist at Memorial University Grenfell Campus, who spoke about her research into Dark Matter; Astrophysicist Dr. Catherine Lovekin who detailed her research who focuses on the structure and evolution of massive starts; and WISEatlantic Chair, Dr. Tamara Franz-Odendaal, who discussed her research on bone development of Zebrafish in a microgravity environment. The event was hosted at Woodlawn Public Library to a very engaged and curious audience of over 50 people.

We would like to thank NSERC, Science Literacy Week, and Halifax Public Libraries for the support of this event.

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For: Teachers/Parents For: Women in SETT

Partnerships Program 2018-19

There is still time to apply for our Partnerships Program for the 2018/19 year. This program is an opportunity for community organizations in Atlantic Canada to apply for small one-year sponsorships for new activities and/or projects that promote the outreach, recruitment, and retention for girls, young women, and industry professionals in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM).

If you have a great idea for a new activity, conference, workshops etc. that aims to support girls and women in STEM and you and/or your organization is located in any of the Atlantic Provinces, then be sure to apply. You could receive a sponsorship of up to $3,000!

Make sure to visit the Partnerships Program page of our website for deadlines and application guidelines.

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Fall 2018 Newsletter
For: Students For: Teachers/Parents For: Women in SETT

Fall 2018 Newsletter

Check-out our latest newsletter which features all of our upcoming events, deadlines for funding applications, details on the fall Women in Science Speaker tour, and more! We encourage you to share with a friend 🙂

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Team Sponsorship
For: Teachers/Parents

Team Sponsorship

WISEatlantic currently provides sponsorship for STEM based team initiatives for youth, such as FIRST LEGO League teams or Let’s Talk Science Challenge. The team must be comprised of 50% or more girls. Download the sponsorship application HERE!

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