On March 8, 2019, nations from around the world recognized International Women’s Day (IWD), celebrating women and girls and committing to a vision of a world that does more to support and empower them.
This year’s theme for International Women’s Day, ‘Balance for Better,’ hit especially close to home for WISEatlantic. The theme focused international attention on working towards a balance of genders in all areas of the workforce in order to better our world. Striving towards the day where gender balance is achieved in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) careers is at the core of what WISE Atlantic does.
“I think the theme was important, because many people assume that we already have a gender equitable workforce as more females are going to university or post-secondary than ever before,” says Sally Marchand, program coordinator at WISEatlantic, “But in some fields such as STEM and Business, a gender equitable workforce isn’t the case.”
STEM fields still show disparity between the percentages of men and women who choose to pursue careers in them and between the percentages of men and women who choose to stay.
“’Balance for Better’ speaks to our mission of increasing the number of women in STEM careers – a more gender equitable workforce will increase innovation and make the working environment better for both women and men.” Sally says.
WISEatlantic has been participating in IWD events since 2012. This year, WISEatlantic ran a session at MSVU during the Girl’s Conference and spoke with young girls and their parents about WISEatlantic programs at the International Women’s Day event hosted at the Halifax Central Library.
The session at the Girl’s Conference featured role models from various STEM careers who spoke with participants about their jobs. The role models were beekeeper and dietician Jillian Ruhl, software engineer Anna Bullen, chemist Christa Brosseau, business analyst Amanda Macphee, mathematician Karyn McLellan and biologist Danielle Gaiter. More than a few girls said that the workshop was their favourite.
“Exploring Careers with Impact was my favorite workshop because I learned a lot about different careers in more detail and from the person themselves. It helped me know about more career options and open up future possibilities.” one girl said.
During the event at the Halifax Central Library, Sally was interviewed by CBC radio. She says that her most memorable moment from this year’s IWD events was also at the library, listening to keynote speaker Dr. Rita Orji.
“She is so inspiring to young girls, as she hadn’t even used a computer before she enrolled in Computer Science in university and now she has a PhD in computer science.” Sally says.
Overall, both events were a success, and it was inspiring to be able to participate in such an important celebration.
“Participating in IWD events is important, as it renews the call to support women in the workforce and the challenges that they still face, particularly for Women in STEM.” Sally says. “It’s encouraging to see how many people and organizations out there are supporting Women in STEM.”
Have you heard the good news?! Halifax is getting it's own chapter of the Canadian Association of Girls in Science (CAGIS)! Starting in September, 2019.
CAGIS is an award-winning club for girls aged 11 to 16 that facilitates interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). CAGIS chapter members meet monthly to explore STEM with fun, hands-on activities led by women and men experts in a variety of STEM fields.
These monthly events often occur at the work places of our STEM experts, giving girls a behind-the-scenes view and allowing them to experience the lab and field environment for themselves!
If you’d like to learn more, or register, please visit the CAGIS national website at girlsinscience.ca
We had a fantastic time at the first-ever Girls Get WISE Science Retreat at St. FX University on March 23, 2019.
The 11 girls who participated in the event learned the physics behind roller coasters and used that knowledge to build their own roller coasters using foam pipe insulation and marbles. X-Chem Outreach coordinator Jennifer Fraser led the other hands-on session; using various methods to test the pH of various household chemicals.
Thanks to our role models, Kelsey Sampson – Primary Care Paramedic, Dr. Genice Hallett-Tapley – Chemist, Brittany MacDonald – Chemical Engineer, and Dr. Tara Taylor – Mathematician, for chatting to the girls about their careers and broadening their knowledge of STEM careers.
A special thanks also goes out to the Women in Science group at St. FX who had seven members volunteer with us!
Visit our Facebook page, facebook.com/WISEatlantic to view pictures of the event.
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.
We had a great turn-out for our 2nd annual Senior Girls Get WISE Science Summer Camp this year, 18 girls ages 15 & 16 participated. We had a great week learning about various STEM professions such as Entomology, Psychology, Embryology, Computer Scientist and more!
Campers also participated in many engaging STEM activities such as bee classification, viewing chick embryos. doing flame tests in Chemistry, and learning how an EEG works.
View photos from the camp by clicking here.
On April 7, 2018 WISEatlantic hosted their largest Girls Get WISE Science Retreat yet with 80 girls participating! This year featured three hands-on activities, Nifty Neuroscience, Electrifying Chemistry, and the Mathematics of Winning. We were also fortunate to have El Jones, the Mount's Nancy's Chair in Women's Studies, join us to perform an inspiring spoken word poem. As always, thank you to our sponsors, partners, volunteers, and role models for making this event a success!
The WISEatlantic Partnerships Program is an opportunity for community organizations in Atlantic Canada to apply for small one-year sponsorship for new activities and/or projects that promote the outreach, recruitment, and retention of girls, young women, and industry professionals in STEM. The Partnerships Program had six applicants for 2017 and the following three were successful in receiving funds for innovative programs in 2018:
Congrats to the successful applicants! The next round of submissions will open in September 2018 on our Partnerships Program page.
On November 16th, 2017, twenty-seven Aboriginal youth from across the province came together at Mount Saint Vincent University for a fun day to explore what STEM is all about.
The youth participated in a hands-on engineering design challenge where they worked in teams to design and construct a functioning windmill with limited resources. They also had the opportunity to learn about exciting STEM careers, such as chemical engineering and dietetics, from local Aboriginal professionals working in these fields. The participants found it a challenging but fun day and were enthusiastic to participate in more hands-on activities, with several of the youth commenting ‘it was really fun and would love to come again’.
The new Girls Get WISE Science Camp for girls 15 & 16 years old, which took place August 28-31, 2017, was pleased to welcome the Federal Science Minister, the Honourable Kirsty Duncan.
On Tuesday, August 29th, 2017 the Honourable Kirsty Duncan stopped by the Girls Get WISE Science Camp to share with the girls her experience working as a science researcher. Minister Duncan also spoke with each of the participants and encouraged them to continue their math and science studies. We are thankful to the Minister and her team for the visit! To read more about the Ministers visit click here.
Girls in this camp also had the opportunity to learn about research in areas such as Organic Chemistry, Marine Biology, and Mathematics, from local female researchers who came to share their research with the girls. Of course, participants also participated in fun and challenging hands-on science experiments and activities throughout the week.
Robin Durnford writes how university's reliance on contract labour is creating a hostile environment for female professors. This article sheds light on the impact of contract positions, and their ramifications for women in academia.
Read the article here.
This past May, The Honorable Geoff Regan, MP for Halifax West and Speaker of the House of Commons, visited Dr. Tamara Franz-Odendaal's lab to learn more about her research, and the WISEatlantic program. Dr. Franz-Odendaal was later featured in his Summer 2017 constituency newsletter.
Read the article (on page two of the newsletter) here.
The annual Girls Get WISE Science Summer Camp was an exciting week-long day-camp that took place from July 17-21 at Mount Saint Vincent University. 23 girls ages 12-14 years old explored science through hands-on activities, and discovered careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) by meeting and chatting with women working in STEM fields.
Girls enjoyed tracking the development of zebra fish embryo’s throughout the week, and participating in fun engineering design challenges, a Crime Scene Investigation, soldering to create circuits for a flight simulator with Lockheed Martin, and much more! Camp participants also met inspiring women during the role model session, including women working in biology, engineering, and technology.
Thank you to our volunteers, and everyone who took part in making the camp such a success! Pictures taken during the camp can be viewed on our Facebook page.