As technological advancements continue to surge forward, a knowledge of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) is vital — so why are some young girls being left out entirely?
According to Statistics Canada, the majority of university graduates in the country are women. Just over 15 per cent of all women aged 25 to 54 who have a bachelor’s degree studied in a STEM field. More than one-third of male degree holders graduated from a STEM-related program.
Reasons for this disparity include cultural pressures related to stereotypical gender roles and a lack of female STEM role models.
But things are changing. There are several Ontario-based organizations focused on encouraging girls’ and young women’s interest in STEM.
Based in Toronto, hEr VOLUTION dedicates their time to motivating girls and young women to pursue STEM-related careers. Through programs like STEMing UP, hEr VOLUTION teaches girls the necessary skills for a career in tech, including coding, front- and back-end development, prototyping and leadership.
hEr VOLUTION is also dedicated to equal opportunities and meeting the needs of underserved youth. Priority for hEr VOLUTION programs is given to low-income, BIPOC, 2SLGBTQ+ and Canadian newcomer communities.
Since 2014, Ontario Tech University’s Faculty of Engineering has delivered engineering outreach programs to K-12 youth in Durham Region.
Their Girls STEM Club, which offers discovery-based educational activities for girls in Grades 1 to 3, operates in the fall, winter and spring seasons. Participants will also have the opportunity to meet professional female engineers and learn first-hand about various disciplines.
The University of Waterloo provides several free and paid programs for elementary and high school-aged youth. These programs address the growing need for future generations to have a STEM background.
Some of their outreach programs like Go ENG Girl, a female-led engineering conference, are exclusively for young women. There is also a variety of co-ed programs available in all aspects of STEM.
Based in Enbro, Ont., STEM Camp is a nonprofit offering summer camp programming with the goal of inspiring Canadian youth to engage in STEM in both official languages.
STEM Camp offers activities in inquiry-based learning (such as themed Minecraft survival activities), coding and robotics. Faculty are also dedicated to encouraging young girls to combat peer pressure surrounding the stereotypes of “boy” subjects.
Aboriginal Access to Engineering delivers culturally relevant material to Indigenous youth and their teachers through virtual school workshops and other programs.
The programming is available for students in Grades 1 to 8. It aims to support the growth of Indigenous communities in order to “build the future while honouring the past.”
Aboriginal Access to Engineering provides education for youth to become “teachers and doctors, politicians and nurses, entrepreneurs and engineers.”
CAGIS is an award-winning club for girls aged seven to 16 interested in STEM.
With chapters all across the country, CAGIS hosts monthly meetings led by STEM experts in a variety of fields including coding, mobile app development, dentistry and forensic science.
CAGIS also offers virtual live STEM sessions led by certified instructors. Past subjects for these sessions have covered everything from food engineering to plant biology.
Offering programming in both English and French, Science North has facilitated STEM summer camps across Ontario since 1987.
Their co-ed programming encourages girls and boys to gain hands-on experience with modern science tools, learn about key scientific principles and socialize with like-minded peers.
With sessions available online and at various community centres across the province, Science North faculty are dedicated to encouraging curiosity and a love of science in children.
Girls SySTEM aims to inspire the next generation of STEM leaders through their mentorship program. By pairing girls in Grades 7 to 12 with female role models in various STEM fields, participants can gain valuable first-hand knowledge and encouragement from industry leaders.
Girls SySTEM is an invaluable resource assisting young women in making educated decisions about their futures. They hope to bring confidence to young girls and encourage them to break into male-dominated fields.