CBU’s Women in Science Event Aims to Help Bridge Gender Gap

Cape Breton University is hoping to help bridge the gender gap in science and engineering by encouraging young women to get involved in the sciences early. The 4th annual Women in Science Event aims to introduce junior high and high school aged young women, as well as those in first year university programs, to career options that result from a science based post-secondary education.

“Gender bias still exists in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math)”, says Dr. Stephanie MacQuarrie, Assistant Professor of Organic Chemistry and event organizer. “We need to help young girls find resources and identify the bias they may face so that they can recognize and overcome them to reach their goals. A recent study showed that while 48.8 per cent of women make up Canada’s workforce, the study says fewer than 25 per cent of women make up Canada’s STEM workforce.”

The daylong science retreat will include fun and dynamic team building activities and presentations from medicine and pharmacy, veterinary science and public health. The 2014 keynote address will be delivered by Dr. Michelle Adams, associate professor in the Faculty of Management at Dalhousie University whose research focuses on green technologies, eco-efficiency and renewable energy development. The address will focus largely on the stereotypes associated with science/technology based careers, as well as the perceptions of the paths open to those who pursue science-based careers. Dr. Adams will focus on dispelling myths and stereotypes by sharing her own experiences as a female engineer and former naval officer.

“I believe it’s so important for women to pursue their dreams, but often we don’t because part of our dream requires us to follow what we are told are ‘non-traditional’ paths,” notes Dr. Adams. “Science and technology is still seen as a male domain, but in many ways it isn’t. My intent is to remove the veil and show that we have the right and the capability to make tremendous contributions to the sciences.”

The event will run from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 22 at the Verschuren Centre, Cape Breton University Campus.