Women and Girls in Science event. February 11, 2019. (Photo courtesy of the St. Clair Catholic District School Board).

Women invite local girls to consider a career in the sciences

Women from across the region are inspiring local girls in Chatham-Kent to join them by considering careers in science and engineering.

The St. Clair Catholic District School Board (SCCDSB) made its latest push for more girls to consider those fields in recognition of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science on Monday by hosting a special event at St. Anne Catholic School in Blenheim.

Women and Girls in Science event. February 11, 2019. (Photo courtesy of the St. Clair Catholic District School Board).

The school hosted more than 150 female students from across Chatham-Kent in Grades 5-8 and gave them a chance to speak with and hear from representatives of local businesses, organization, and post-secondary institutions.

Some of the speakers who were invited included local paramedics, chiropractors, pharmacists, veterinarians, optometrists, conservation authority officials, engineers, and agricultural consultants.

SCCDSB Superintendent of Education Laura Callaghan said it didn’t take much to persuade their guest speakers to come out, either.

“Recruitment was a non-issue… just about everyone we called [agreed to come out],” said Callaghan, adding the organizers put the event together after the Christmas break, so they were working on a short timeline, too. “We had an overwhelmingly positive response from the various community members who we reached out to.”

Director of Education for the SCCDSB Deb Crawford said the board has hosted science demonstrations for female students in the past, but this is the first time they have gathered this number of students and community partners in one place for an event like this.

“We know that in some areas of science, math, engineering, technology, we find there is an underrepresentation of female students and we want to open up the possibilities to them,” Crawford. “We know that students will be faced with problems that are complex and science brings people closer to problem-solving and imagination… all of these transferrable skills that they learn in science will give them a very positive and prosperous future.”

Women and Girls in Science event. February 11, 2019. (Photo courtesy of the St. Clair Catholic District School Board).

Crawford said it’s important to reach the students at a young age as well, so that they start thinking about what kind of courses they might be interested in as they move into secondary school.

“When they can see how interesting science is, and be inspired by people who are working in those careers, then it gives them some incentive to choose courses that will lead them along that pathway,” said Crawford. “There are so many options and it’s very important that we do not close our doors to science.”

Crawford said this isn’t a one-off event, either. She said science, technology, engineering, arts, and math will continue to be central themes as the SCCDSB works on its new strategic plan.