*Due to the forecasted storm in Nova Scotia, this talk will be postponed until Monday, September 28, 2020.*
For day two of our celebration of Science Literacy Week, join Dr. Erin Cameron for a virtual presentation and Q&A on Soil Biodiversity!
This event is open to youth aged 11-18, parents, and teachers!
To RSVP please contact Sally Marchand at WISEatlantic@MSVU.ca. Once you register you will be emailed the Zoom participation link the day before the event
WISEatlantic hosted a public talk at Keshen Goodman Library about the 10 common myths girls face in STEM and how to bust them.
Due to Covid-19 the format of our Junior Girls Get WISE Science Summer Camp will be different this year…we are going online!
Our virtual Junior Camp will run from July 27-30th and is FREE*.
The final format is still being developed but we are aiming for online engagement for 1-2 hours each day, with some offline hands-on STEM activities.
REGISTRATION is now available on our Eventbrite page: https://jrggwsciencecamp.eventbrite.ca
*There are limited spaces so be sure to inquire early.
WISEatlantic has been busy this summer welcoming back campers to our Girls Get WISE Science Summer Camps. Following our virtual camps last year, we were eager to get girls back in the lab!
Our two Junior camps gave participants the chance to assume their roles as biologists-in-training and raise zebrafish for the week. As well as learning about the ins-and-outs of zebrafish development, participants enjoyed other STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) activities, including making aluminum foil boats, designing social media posts to inform others about important science topics, and exploring the psychology behind motivation and group work.
Our Senior camps always intend to expand participants’ interest beyond the biology lab, and this year was no different! We spent the week observing the Sun (safely!) through telescopes with solar filters, making usable algae strings, learning about sleep and dreams, and creating art using cabbage juice as a pH indicator. Campers also got to learn how to spot fake news when browsing the web, and helped Citizen Science by tracking pollinators in our area.
All of our camps featured role model sessions where participants got to learn about various STEM careers, including necessary schooling, what a day-in-the-life looks like, and what skills will help them be successful in those careers. Some of our role models’ fields of work included Aerospace Engineering, Environmental Science, Genetic Counselling, Registered Dietetics, and Bat Research.
Our 2021 Girls Get WISE Science Retreat went virtual for the first time this year! The event was held on May 1st through Zoom to introduce young girls to various STEM disciplines while engaging them in science related activities.
Thirty-two girls in grades 7-10 participated in a CSI-based spatter analysis activity where they got to put their mathematical skills to the test to determine where a balloon of Fruitopia popped. Additionally, the girls worked together in small groups to make their way through a STEM-themed escape room including tasks in binary coding, pH testing, constellation naming, and DNA transcription and translation. The retreat also featured our always popular role model session which gave participants the chance to interact with female scientists in civil engineering, physics, and environmental science, and learn about their careers.
While the retreat was not able to be held in person this year, it remained a success! Having the event virtually gave us the chance to host girls from outside of the Halifax area, bringing an enthusiastic group of aspiring scientists together safely to celebrate our love for STEM.
Featured below is some feedback we received from participants and their parents about their experiences in our 2021 Virtual Girls Get WISE Science Retreat;
“I really enjoyed the role model session and learning about different jobs in the STEM field.”
“It was a huge hit with our 13-year-old daughter… and a perfect activity while NS is in lockdown, and we are all staying at home.”
“My favorite activity was the escape room. I have been to two of these events in previous years and [have] enjoyed every one!”
Diversity in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) drives innovation and creative ideas in the field, because people with different backgrounds and perspectives can find new ways to solve problems. Increasing representation and inclusion of marginalized groups in this field would increase opportunities for these groups and advance equity. Moreover, increasing participation of different groups in this field would grow the field overall, contributing to the economy and scientific advancement. However, STEM fields have historically been male-dominated and associated with masculinity in the minds of many. While there is a substantial body of literature on women’s inclusion in science, LGBTQ+ representation in STEM is something we know less about.
A new study by Cech and Waidzunas (2021) details the disparity in STEM experiences between LGBTQ+ people and their straight counterparts in the US. In surveying a sample of 25,324 full-time STEM professionals, 1,006 of whom were LGBTQ+, they found LGBTQ+ individuals were having worse experiences in STEM across a number of dimensions. The factors they examined were career opportunities, harassment, professional devaluation (colleagues devaluing or discrediting their STEM expertise), social exclusion (not “fitting in” or being invited to things), health and wellness, and intentions to leave STEM.
LGBTQ+ individuals in the sample had fewer perceived career opportunities and less resources. They were also less comfortable “whistleblowing” (i.e. reporting harassment or discrimination without retaliation). Significantly more LGBTQ+ individuals in their sample were experiencing professional devaluation and social exclusion. LGBTQ+ respondents were more likely to experience harassment and negative mental health effects, and significantly more LGBTQ+ respondents were considering leaving STEM than their non-LGBTQ+ counterparts.
These authors also did an intersectional analysis and found that transgender and gender non-binary respondents reported more health and wellness issues, and were more likely to consider leaving STEM than their cisgender sexual minority counterparts. Similarly, LGBTQ+ women and LGBTQ+ individuals of colour were more likely than LGBTQ+ men and LGBTQ+ white individuals, respectively, to experience harassment and professional devaluation at work.
Though North America has come a long way in terms of marriage equality and other LGBTQ+ rights, this evidence shows us there is still more work to be done to include LGBTQ+ individuals equally and equitably across all sectors of society. Moreover, more research needs to be done in Canada, as most of the current literature is based on US samples. WISEatlantic is currently conducting research with Canadian LGBTQ+ postdocs in STEM, so stay tuned!
There are several organizations focused on LGBTQ+ inclusion and visibility in STEM, which can be checked out at these links! There even is one in Atlantic Canada, QAtCanSTEM:
By Drew Burchell, WISEatlantic Research Assistant
Cech, E. A., & Waidzunas, T. J. (2021). Systemic inequalities for LGBTQ professionals in STEM. Science Advances, 7(3), eabe0933
Interested in a career in engineering? This document will give you more information about all the opportunities that exist within the engineering field, and which type of engineering may be for you.
The 2019 Atlantic ConnecTions Conference, which took place at the University of Prince Edward Island in May, was a great opportunity to get together with local people and organizations focused on the recruitment and retention of Women in SETT. The theme of ACT 2019 was ‘Sustaining Women in SETT’ a nod to our host venue, the Faculty of Sustainable Design Engineering at UPEI.
Please enjoy reading a summary of the conference proceedings in the report.