Girls are being shown they too can find success in the traditionally male-dominated world of science, technology, engineering and math.
Women are vastly underrepresented in these fields, also known as STEM, and efforts are underway to get more young females interested.
The Vernon School District, with IBM Canada, brought together 106 girls from Grade 6 and 7 for a special STEM4Girls Workshop at Coldstream Elementary Tuesday (Oct. 22).
“It’s bringing out awareness that girls can do anything,” said Kathy Wickum, the school district’s principal of career education.
The girls were introduced to STEM, given challenges forcing them to work together and even got a “speed mentoring session” with some women in STEM.
“They spent time with every one of them, learning what those careers are about,” Wickum said.
For Silver Star Elementary student Brooklyn Prince, meeting a pediatrician inspired her and sparked an interest in becoming a doctor.
Seeing the stereotypes women face and overcome in STEM fields opened a lot of students’ eyes.
“I have learned to believe in myself,” Kidston Elementary student Kalia Davis said.
“To not let other people tell you what you can’t do,” classmate Ava Olsson added.
Selina Stefanski, from Ellison, said, “Girls can do whatever they want and we don’t need to listen to other people to believe who we are.”
For Ellison student Aliana Arteaga Pacheco, the day re-affirmed her belief in girl power, “knowing that other people agree with me, that girls have rights too.”
It is at this formidable age that STEM4Girls hopes to inspire more young females to stick to their interests in science, technology, engineering and math.
”By the time they get to Grade 9 they are starting to self select out of things,” IBM Canada workshop leader Krista Shibata said. “By (grades) 6, 7, 8, you are more self-aware, you start doubting yourself more.”
The Vernon students weren’t the only ones to benefit from the workshop. Shibata brought the camp to Kamloops on Monday, where the girls made slime. And more than 80 students from 10 different Kelowna schools took part in some liquid science at UBC Okanagan on Wednesday.
“It’s just nice to see that they are getting excited,” Shibata said.