Category: Women in STEM

Diversity and inclusion at RFG 2018: Wed 20 Jun 1:30 pm

Resources for Future Generations – RFG 2018 – begins this Saturday 16 June. I’m looking forward to catching up with friends who are flying in from around the world to attend, and am proud to be convening a session on the impacts of gender bias on resource sector careers with two inspiring colleagues and friends, Libby Sharman and Mona Forster.

At 1:30 pm on Wednesday 20 June in Room 210 at the Vancouver Convention Centre, keynote speakers Anne Thompson and Libby Sharman will discuss the challenges they have faced and strategies to overcome them. Following the keynote, we will have two panel discussions, separated by coffee and cookies. Our speaker and panelist biographies are listed below the poster. (more…)

My moderate gender bias

“Your data suggest a moderate association of Male with Science and Female with Humanities compared to Female with Science and Male with Humanities.”

I took the Implicit Association Test (IAT) today. It was created by researchers to explore our unconscious thoughts and feelings. The goal of the test is to uncover what you know about your own mind, and what you think you know about your own mind, and measure the distance between them.

The IAT was suggested to me by a colleague at the recent Canadian Institute of Mining convention. I had attended a couple of panel sessions on inclusion and diversity in mining, and was frustrated by the lack of progress, particularly for women in mining. I wanted to know what companies were doing about it. This colleague works for a mining company who put the senior management team through unconscious bias training a year earlier, and pointed me to the IAT test on the Harvard University website.

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Taking to the skies for girls in STEM

One excited co-pilot

Fewer than five per cent of pilots, flight engineers, and flight instructors are female*. That’s 19 men for every one women flying a fixed-wing plane or helicopter, maintaining an aircraft, or teaching a class of new aviators. As with so many male-dominated industries, female role models for young women dreaming of taking to the skies are scarce. “You can’t be what you can’t see” is the mantra. So, in 2012, Kirsten Brazier, a fixed-wing and helicopter pilot, founded “The Sky’s No Limit – Girls Fly Too” to energize more girls and women to discover the opportunities available to them in aviation, aerospace and space.

“From shop floor to top floor, we’re inspiring future leaders!” says Brazier.

Kirsten Brazier is a fixed-wing and helicopter pilot and founder of the Girls Fly Too event

The annual event is held at Abbotsford airport, about an hour east of Vancouver, B.C. A free helicopter flight for first-time female fliers is the highlight of the event for most attendees, but there are also the opportunities to peek inside the coast guard helicopter, watch a police dog at work, or even meet a real astronaut.

When my family and I first went to the event in March 2015, my daughter was four and a half. Two years later, she still remembers her flight, getting her face painted, and learning to pop-rivet! (more…)

Ask a Wonder Woman: Three questions for a science writer

“But, what’s the first step?”

Last night, I attended my first SCWIST (Society for Canadian Women in Science and Technology) event. They are a non-profit working hard to empower women and girls in science, engineering and technology and each year they run the Wonder Women Networking Evening at Science World. This years’ event introduced about 45 women at various stages of their careers in STEM fields to women who were studying, searching for their first job, looking for a change, or just interested in hearing about the twists and turns most career paths take.

I met meteorologists, engineers, software developers, researchers, pathologists, pharmacists, biologists, a trainee mechanic and lots of physicists! What stood out as we introduced ourselves was the number hats people wore. For example, “I’m an environmental engineer by day and my partner and I are raising money for our start-up…” or “I’m a research scientists, I teach at university, and volunteer at…” The other common thread was that very few career paths were straight lines. The word du jour – ‘pivot’ – was overheard more than once! (more…)