CBU professors awarded over $50,000 from NSERC Promo Science Funding to Promote and Encourage Young Women to Explore Science

A team of female professionals in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) at Cape Breton University were recently awarded $50,000 over a three-year period for the creation of a new program, Island WISE (Women in Science and Engineering), an expansion of a current CBU WISE initiative.

Dr. Stephanie MacQuarrie, Associate Professor of Organic Chemistry, along with Peggy Wright, Senior Laboratory Instructor; Kathy Snow, Assistant Professor of Education; Katherine Jones, Associate Professor of biology; and Shelley Denny, Biologist with the Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources, received the funding from the National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Promo Science competition to expand their program and involve more young women in STEM opportunities.

The Island WISE program will include three separate retreat days for high school girls in three different communities within Cape Breton, a professional development day for high school guidance counselors, an online mentorship program and a free girls summer science camp and participation in the science literacy week on September 18-24, 2017.

As a part of CBU WISE, Dr. MacQuarrie has previously facilitated a mentoring program, connecting young women who have attended CBU WISE events with experienced females in the field of science and engineering. This expansion of the current mentoring program will now allow access to any young woman who is seeking STEM mentorship.

“I hope by expanding the mentorship program it will allow for continuous dialogue and more impactful longer term role modeling,” says Dr. MacQuarrie. “We don’t want to have a one day retreat and then the conversation stop. We want to provide the resources they need to facilitate a year-round conversation for the purpose of have a lasting and meaningful impact.”

The Island WISE retreats, two of which will be held in Mi’kmaq communities, will help to expose young women to all the professions and career options in the STEM field. “One of the most powerful determinants of whether a female student continues in science might be whether anyone encourages her to go on,” says Peggy Wright.

Dr. MacQuarrie established CBU WISE more than six years ago as a one-day retreat for junior and high school girls to discover opportunities in science and engineering and to participate in hands-on science. The funding announcement was originally made on May 6, as a part of a $4.8M National Announcement made by The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science.

For more information on Island WISE, please contact Dr. Stephanie MacQuarrie at Stephanie_macquarrie@cbu.ca