February 11 is...

International Day of Women and Girls in Science

This year, we want you to use your voice!

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In Canada, women make up only 23% of science and technology workers and 5% of trades workers. Yet science, technology, trades, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) occupations are among the highest-paid and fastest-growing occupations in the country.

But there is good news! Research has shown that breaking stereotypes, providing diverse role models, and access to mentorship programs can all help. So, let’s start the conversation!

What do you want people to know about gender equity in STEM?

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More women should join science. It’s a job dominated by men. For example, I flew a virtual plane and during this time learned that very few women are pilots. Although it is growing, it is still a very few amount of women in this field. Also, check out my pyramid palace I built for a project in class, it broke many times but I did not give up.

- Lola, 8, Toronto

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Bhavi standing on stage giving a talk

I’ve organized 500+ kids’ camps worldwide about Space & Programming. I observed a trend: more boys than girls attend. Surveys reveal that parents of girls are hesitant about guiding them into STEM, which causes opportunities to not be introduced to the KIDS. The lack of role models, gender stereotypes, lack of awareness, and the big confidence gap deeply affect how students like me think about the industry. “It’s a guy/girl thing” or “You’re not good enough” are phrases that are going to decide the future. I believe we need more hands in the STEM industry, and how the current generation thinks about this topic plays a vital role in the future. To achieve this, opportunities and motivation is key. That’s why I love CAGIS. Meeting other people who have done something you want to do is a huge boost, and doing hands-on activities and challenges gets me excited about what’s ahead.

- Bhavishyaa, 12, Oakville

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I want people to know how important it is having women in STEM. It already isn’t easy to pursue a career in STEM, but it’s even harder as a minority group, which is why it’s so powerful and inspiring when there are women in STEM. It really does show that we can do anything as long as you put your mind to it. Years from now, your dream of pursuing a career in STEM will be very significant to the other girls who follow behind your footsteps. So, keep trying to achieve your dream no matter what because you’re more than capable of doing it!

- Shantelle, 16

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Frog being dissected

I want people to understand that gender equity in STEM is not just about equal representation but also fostering an inclusive environment where diverse voices are valued and heard. Breaking stereotypes and encouraging girls to pursue their passions in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics is crucial for unlocking the full potential of our collective innovation and progress!

- Aleeza, 15, Brampton

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For those of us from under-represented genders who are already working in STEM, I think it’s important to remember what an amazing impact we can make by sharing valuable information and contacts within our own communities. Mentorship can be as simple and as powerful as making introductions and facilitating connections that expand our communities’ networks and break the cycles of isolation.

- Cailleah, Director & Producer creating content to advocate for gender equity in STEM!

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I’m happy to say that I’ve never experienced any discrimination against my race and gender when exploring the fields of STEM. However, there is a huge need for more female and gender-diverse representation in STEM. There are so many amazing women in STEM who inspire me everyday, and I believe that all girls and gender-diverse youth deserve the same opportunities and exposure to STEM that I’ve received. A lack of representation can make STEM fields seem intimidating or unachievable. Fortunately, there are many amazing programs like CAGIS that help empower women in STEM. CAGIS has inspired me and so many other young girls by connecting us with powerful women in various STEM fields.

- Valini, 14, Burlington

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I wanted to highlight the important role that diverse voices and perspectives have in driving innovation and developing effective solutions to the challenges our society faces today. When I was first learning to drive, I remember hearing a surprising story that shed light on this subject. When cars were originally being manufactured, it was discovered that women were at a significantly higher risk of harm in accidents. When people dug deeper, they uncovered the root cause of the problem: all the car manufactures, designers, and testers were men. These individuals used male test dummies in crash tests, which allowed them to build safety features that would protect the average male’s physique, but failed to consider the safety of women and small children. This example is a testament to the fact that diversity and inclusion in STEM fields is not just a positive gesture, but rather, an essential. As seen, increasing female representation has real-world implications. By striving for gender equity in our schools, workplaces, and communities, we can leverage diverse skillsets, solve complex problems in a more holistic manner, and ultimately, find creative solutions that we would not have discovered otherwise.

- Kristen, 17, Mississauga

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Gender equity is when someone is not letting a certain person do something because of their gender. It is important because for so long, societies have seen females as weaker and less important than males.

- Sangamitra, 13, Mississauga

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When it comes to gender equity in STEM there are a lot of underlying issues that deserve attention. A big one is underrepresentation. It is known quite well that women have often been underrepresented in STEM fields throughout history. But it does not stop there. Women are still continually marginalized in the field in modern day society. So taking a step in promoting intelligent women in this pathway can help inspire other young girls to also pursue a life in STEM.

- Naveena, 16, Toronto

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Gender equality is important for everyone to be treated equally. In the stem field the number of men workers massively outnumber the number of women. This clearly tells us that women are not having equal opportunity as men in this field. The gender inequality in stem is due to the stereotypes that you have to enter the stem fields with masculine qualities. This stereotype discourages women around the world into participation in stem careers. It is important to understand that there is no such thing as masculine and feminine characteristics and those are just stereotypes that should be removed. Anyone can go into the stem field, as long as stem is what you love and what you want to pursue.

- Anvi, 14, Brampton

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Gender equity in STEM is crucial for fostering innovation and change. Encouraging equal opportunities, dismantling biases, and supporting inclusivity can lead to a more robust and representative scientific community. CAGIS gives young girls the skills, opportunities and confidence to make important changes in the STEM community. Every girl in science is step towards equality and change and CAGIS is at the forefront of this movement!

- Lauren, 16, Mississauga

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There is a stereotype that women are not well educated in the fields of STEM and anything technical. However, now many women have worked hard and proved these stereotypes wrong. While I personally have not experienced any challenges as a girl in STEM, I am aware that many women have and are continuing to experience them. Women are given less opportunities and looked down upon when entering the field, their abilities in technical and mathematical things being questioned. There are pay and career advancement barriers; when a male and female are competing for a promotion, irrespective of the qualification, women are often overlooked because of this unconscious bias against them. There also happens to be a lack of female role models, so may women feel isolated and imposter syndrome, as a result they get discouraged from pursuing work in this field. Steps are being taken every day to allow gender equality in STEM however. Organizations like CAGIS provide opportunities for girls to explore STEM fields without judgement or bias and fair treatment. Women’s rights movements and the changing mindsets of the newer generation have also created change in workplaces, where women are not being looked down upon just because of their sexuality. So in the end, the gender or race of a person does not define their abilities. Their skills and talents are individual to them, and it is not fair to stereotype a whole group of people and discriminate against them because of these biases.

- Snigdha, 16, London

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A few years ago, I took two tech classes. In both of them, which had about 30 people, I was one of only three girls. Until then, I had never really experienced or seen any discrimination against women in STEM or discrepancies in the number of girls vs. boys in my classes. However, in my case, it wasn’t so much discrimination as it was the stigma that coding or engineering or any other tech class was for boys. I think it’s incredibly important for access to STEM education/outreach to start early on, so girls feel like they can fully explore their interests, ensure confidence in high school and beyond, and dismantle the stigma surrounding women in STEM. So we will feel like we truly belong: interacting with a subject/concept we love and not facing any pushback on account of our gender. 

- Mala, 18

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Equity in STEM means the opportunity for women to explore this path confidently, without being afraid of the negative voices and not having to choose another less extensive option that requires less education.

- Jaskiran

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I want people to know that gender equity in STEM means ensuring that people of all genders receive equal pay, opportunities for advancement, and recognition for their achievements/contributions, regardless of gender identity. It’s about leveling the playing field so that everyone has an equal opportunity to achieve based on their talents and abilities, without facing discrimination or bias based on their gender. In addition to being fair, achieving gender equality in STEM fields is crucial for encouraging innovation and understanding the full potential of the scientific community.

- Ananya, 14, Toronto

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Throughout history, a woman’s bias was recognized as less than a man’s. We were seen as irrational, and traditionally, only capable of caregiving for households. At some point, many women unknowingly followed these stereotypes, hardwired to believe what was shown them their whole lives. They were underestimating themselves for so long which resulted in reducing their limits and capabilities. However, women are indeed just as capable as men in many fields, such as; STEM. I believe that to break this habit of weighing value over gender, women need more recognition; to be valued and heard. Women need more inspiration and opportunities, which is the key to success. CAGIS is one such opportunity that raises self-confidence, hoists inspiration, and guides many young women into reaching and experiencing their dreams in the fields of STEM. Their workshops and challenges are so unique and encouraging, but most importantly, they display role models. A study has shown that the effectiveness of role models is the root of what is called,” observational learning”, where we learn from watching and listening to other people. Therefore, positive role models influence our actions and motivate us to try more. I believe that to make a change in society, we should make a change in ourselves, to weigh our values as worthy. This is why I love CAGIS so much; they are our first steps to change, and first steps to success.

- Adithi, 14, Toronto

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I think one of the best things to do to break barriers in STEM is to have inspiring female role models to show young girls what can be done in science. By making young girls realize they can achieve their full potential in STEM will help break stereotypes and achieve gender equity. I recently took part in a CAGIS virtual workshop about food science and I never thought it could be a career choice for a girl! I also live on a farm and we use science every day: testing animal feed to calculate its nutritional value, checking soil compaction, programming precision equipment and understanding how forces work when using machinery. Only 30% of farm operators are women – no gender equity in agriculture yet. I hope this will change one day. I am very proud to be part of CAGIS and the STEM community.

- Charlotte, 10

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STEM is for everyone! However, many areas of STEM are largely male dominated. If we want more girls and women to step into this field, representation is very important. CAGIS has made a huge impact by showcasing so many inspiring women with careers in STEM which has shown that STEM is for women as much as it is for men.

- Elissa, 17, Vernon

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Girl holding up a sign for gender equity in STEM

- Harini, 14, Oshawa

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Most parents who have a son(s) make them more focused on STEM-based jobs but most parents who have a daughter(s) make them more focused on a simple life career. Slowly, women have gotten up the ladder of STEM because there are more women/girls interested of having a career in STEM before.

- Nithila, 12, Oakville

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The battle for equity is far from over but I feel joy, excitement and pride every time I think about the phenomenal young women who are not only joining science but staying in it! Change is never easy, in fact it is incredibly difficult, however the future is looking brighter by the day! I am lucky to teach, collaborate with and be a woman in STEM!

- Nausheen, Assistant Professor, Calgary

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From a young age, I always felt like I was capable of pursuing science, and I attribute this largely to the many programs I was involved in that promoted that message. These included Mad Scientists in elementary school, summer camps organized by Women In Science and Engineering (WISE), and events put on by CAGIS. Not until late in junior high school did I even realize there was a gender gap in STEM. The biggest challenge I faced at this time was the constant torrent of evidence that I didn’t belong in STEM. Though I knew that I both could and should pursue a career in science, there were, and still are, many statistics out there to indicate the contrary. At this point in my life, meeting women in STEM fields became extremely important to me. There was no better way to regain my confidence in being a girl in STEM than getting to say “that could be me someday”. Now that I’m looking ahead to becoming an engineer or computer scientist, I am grateful that I had the opportunity to meet these women, and hope that I will inspire others in the same way.

- Kate, 17, Halifax

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Girl giving scienec presentation

I want people to know that anything can be possible if you try. I am now one of the few girls in robotics at my school because I’ve been inspired by many role models in STEM, and CAGIS has showed me that anything is possible if you try it.

- Mariam, 15, Toronto

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Everyone with all genders must be welcomed and shouldn’t be left out in any of the STEM fields just because of something they were born with, especially us girls and gender-diverse people. People often consider most fields of STEM to be something a boy to do and have a higher knowledge and understanding. This relates to me because when I was younger, I sometimes thought STEM was mainly for men since I saw and was introduced to a lot of male scientists while making me see less of women in the STEM field. We shouldn’t be easily judged based on our gender and we shouldn’t be let down because of it. I like how joining CAGIS and being with other girls in the Zoom sessions showed me that we are all capable of doing anything and learning in STEM and how we can even become role models for future generations, making STEM more gender diverse.

- Adithi, 14, Ajax

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In my family, males were encouraged to pursue STEM jobs, whilst women were expected to stay at home. Growing up as a first-generation immigrant daughter, I noticed this tendency, but I’m motivated to change it as I wish to pursue a career in medicine and research. While my family background may imply otherwise, I am confident that gender does not restrict prospects in STEM. Throughout my journey, I’ve found resources and assistance that helped me to follow my passion. As a current participant in a university-level research program, I can speak to the great improvements taking place in STEM fields. The professor leading the program mentioned that about a decade ago, it was male-dominated, with 28 boys and 2 girls, but now there’s a more balanced representation. My message to anyone facing similar challenges is that change is possible. Women are just as capable of making significant contributions in STEM fields. It’s crucial to believe in yourself and seek out resources. I encourage parents to expose their children to diverse opportunities, ensuring they know that gender should never limit their aspirations. With determination, support, and exposure, it is simply possible to break down barriers and create a more inclusive and equitable STEM community for future generations.

- Gulnoor, 17, Brampton

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Creating spaces for women and gender diverse people to enter and thrive in the STEM field, means creating space for new perspectives, ideas, and realities! I am thankful for the work of CAGIS in creating and normalizing spaces that welcome, celebrate and amplify the work of female identifying youth and gender diverse youth.

- Léandre, Gender Equity Advocate, Montreal

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I personally believe that anyone can be great at STEM, regardless of their gender, age, and nationality. The world of science is open to everyone, but only those who are truly great see it in it’s true reality. I believe that people should be given a chance to be great, no matter who they are. CAGIS has taught me so much about what the world really is. And I learnt that women are crucial to the future of science. It is imperative that we receive the support, and that our voices are heard. Not just women, but anyone aiming to pursue a career in STEM

- Anika, 13, Vancouver

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What I want people to know about gender equity in STEM is making it fair for everyone is important. We should give the same chances to all genders, break stereotypes, and support diverse perspectives. By doing this, we create a better, more inclusive STEM world where everyone can contribute!

- Hiba, 14, Brampton

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I think that the most important things for people, most importantly for people who are members of marginalized groups is that you shouldn’t let anything stop you from achieving what you want to achieve. Having been in many STEM clubs and science driven classes and extracurriculars where it is common for there not to be many other girls it is important that we remember to uplift and encourage each other. Women make up only 23% of the workforce in science, technology, engineering and math (Stats Canada). Through this we know that women historically and continue to be underrepresented in STEM fields and its important to acknowledge this disparity and work towards creating opportunities for all genders.

- Naomi, 16, Mississauga

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Others underestimating my ability based on my gender permeates the majority settings of my life. I am a woman, so I am naturally too “emotional” and “sentimental” to think logically. I am a women, so I am “just not as smart as boys”. I am not “made for math, chemistry, biology, computers, coding, physics, and many many other things”. But, why do others get to decide who I am? I am a woman, so I have the liberty to express my emotions in public or in private. I am a woman, so I have the freedom to dive into fields I have an interest in. It can be math, chemistry, biology, computers, coding, physics, and many many other things. I am a women, but I do not have to prove I am just as smart as boys. I am smart, not like boys, but like girls. I am a woman, a human, and a passionate learner in the STEM field, just like many many other women. Others underestimating our ability based on our gender permeates the majority of settings of our lives. But, one day, when we will no longer need to prove our ability to others, to fight for equal treatment, and to advocate recognition for the female scientists who had their works and credits stolen, is the true gender equity in STEM.

- Diana, 16, Richmond

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As the world progresses, chances and opportunities for women to emerge in the field of STEM also grow, but the actual number of women in it is still pretty small. This can be due to a multitude of factors but one that could be a bigger reason is the mindset. The mindset of many families and even women themselves is that they are not confident. This may not apply to everyone, but it can be argued that it is a huge inhibitor. If families, and the women, could support and trust those who have dreams of being in STEM, the number of women would surely increase sooner than later.

- Poorvikaa, 15, Ajax

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Gender equity is giving everyone what they need to succeed, unlike gender equality which gives everyone the same amount of help or opportunities. I want people to know that STEM isn’t just a ‘males only job, ‘ females should be able to do it too without judgement.

- Chloe, 13, Richmond Hill

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Gender equity in STEM means uplifting women’s voices, allowing an equal playing field and display of capabilities, and ensuring women get equal access to opportunities. It also means putting more women in positions of power, as often, women are seen as “less capable” or not as much as “a leader.” Women in positions of power means greater understanding and diversity of what goes on in the industry, as well as great leadership.

- Natalie, 16, Toronto

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girl in Santa hat doing a science experiment with a test tube in hand

To me science means creativity and I think girls and boys have the same talent and passion to create something unique. We can not restrict anyone from loving STEM. I enjoy building complex structures just like my brother. Many times we build super cool structures together. In that I use my creativity and he uses his skills to build something fun!

- Rhythm, 10, Ottawa

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Aleena standing in a science exhibition space.

Since I participated in CAGIS, my self-confidence toward being a girl in STEM increased as I took part in hands-on workshops, listened to inspiring women in the field, and participated in STEM challenges to bring my skills and confidence to the next level to show that even girls can be an equal part in the STEM industry. The balance of female and male people in STEM, will help us build more innovative ideas to society with the help of not only the minds of men but also women. We need diverse ideas and opinions to make a better future. I think gender equity in STEM is very important because even though you are a girl it is possible to do what you are passionate of and I don’t think gender stereotypes should be the cause to stop someone from doing what they enjoy.

- Aleena, 12, Toronto

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Gender equity in STEM is vital for innovation and progress. Diversity fosters creativity and brings different perspectives to problem-solving. Encouraging women’s participation in STEM fields not only promotes fairness but also enhances the quality of research and technology. By breaking down barriers and biases, we can create inclusive environments where everyone can thrive. Supporting equal opportunities and representation empowers individuals to pursue their passions and contribute fully to the advancements that shape our world.

- Anju, Educator

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Close up of a school science project

I believe it’s crucial for people to understand that gender equity in STEM is all about fostering an inclusive environment that empowers everyone, regardless of gender, to thrive and contribute their unique perspectives to the field. Women have historically been underrepresented in STEM, and so addressing this imbalance is essential. Ever since I have been a CAGIS Teen Ambassador, I have understood the importance of recognizing and celebrating the achievements of women in STEM, as it helps challenge stereotypes and inspires the next generation of female scientists, engineers, and technologists. Throughout my own experience as a woman interested in STEM, I have also started to value education and outreach initiatives made to encourage girls to explore their interests from an early age. By promoting STEM education for all, it can significantly contribute to building a more diverse and equitable future in these fields. 🙂

- Raneem, 15, Ottawa

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While significant progress has been made in overcoming gender barriers, there is still work to be done to ensure gender diversity and equity in STEM fields. It is crucial to engage girls to pursue STEM from an early age to develop an interest and build confidence to challenge gender stereotypes. From my firsthand experience with only 20% of my FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) team being girls, it is evident that more efforts are needed to empower and encourage female participation and promote equity in STEM initiatives. CAGIS makes this opportunity available to girls all over Canada by introducing us to diverse programming and female role models in a wide range of STEM fields.

- Bianca, 16, Mississauga

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Girl standing beside a science project.

Though it may seem like the issue of gender equity in STEM is resolved, there is still a lot of work to be done, as there are numerous jobs that are primarily male or that have a significant pay gap. As a black woman in STEM, I am inspired by women such as Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Dorothy Vaughan, who made strides at NASA. I hope to one day create changes in science that can inspire other young black girls to go after their dreams. I love being a CAGIS Teen Ambassador, as with this group, I know that I can inspire girls interested in STEM today.

- Misimi, 17, Oakville

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Gender equity in STEM is crucial for fostering innovation and ensuring diverse perspectives. Everyone, regardless of gender, should have equal opportunities to contribute their unique talents to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Breaking down stereotypes and promoting inclusivity creates a more dynamic and effective STEM community for all!

- Shifa, 15, Missisauga

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Gender equity in STEM is very important, and it’s essential that we ensure girls are paid equally worldwide. There has to be clubs and associations that are focused on empowering girls in tech as well, providing them with the support and resources they need to thrive. Tech events like hackathons should be inclusive, with targeted efforts to encourage more participation from girls. Additionally, there must be more opportunities specifically aimed at women in STEM, which can enable them to excel in these fields.

- Sohaila, 17, Toronto

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Gender does not play a role in one’s ability to practice the STEM disciplines. Women and gender diverse individuals are just as talented as men in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. This being true, the battle of gender equality in STEM fields is still being fought. Women are given less opportunities to enter and practice STEM. This must be stopped.

- Ava, 16, Markham

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Gender equity in STEM is really important and sometimes it’s not shown in our society. Did you know that less than 25% globally is women in STEM? How crazy is that? The cause of this is that sometimes STEM topics are not introduced to girls at a young age their motivation/interest is therefore not strengthened either. Another cause is that gender stereotypes prevent people from wanting to go into STEM too.

- Serena, 14, Oakville

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When most people think of gender equity in any setting, you most often think of “as many women as men”, but it goes beyond that. Gender equity, especially in STEM, involves equal pay for the same job, equal chances of getting a job if you are qualified, the cultivation of an environment where everyone can thrive, and more than I can say in words. Representation is important, but we must go above and beyond to achieve true gender equity in STEM.

- Katie, 16, Hamilton

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It is critical to have gender equity in STEM as these disciplines involve transformative ideas that can change the world. Diverse perspectives in STEM fields – such as medicine, technology, engineering – will lead to innovative solutions that impact us all. Advancing gender equity involves challenging stereotypes and biases to encourage female representation in STEM. This would lead to more role models/mentors that can inspire girls to follow their passion and foster an interest in STEM. As an active member and Teen Ambassador for CAGIS, I have the opportunity to learn from women in diverse STEM roles who empower me to continue to explore the endless career possibilities in STEM.

- Daniella, 16, Mississauga

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Gender equity in STEM is imperative for fostering diversity and innovation. Historically, women and gender minorities have been underrepresented in these fields, hindering the richness of perspectives. Achieving equity involves ensuring equal opportunities in education, addressing biases and stereotypes, and providing visible role models. Inclusive policies, such as flexible work arrangements, are vital for supporting a diverse workforce. Organizations must actively combat gender-based harassment and discrimination, while outreach programs should encourage underrepresented groups to pursue STEM interests. Recognizing the intersectionality of gender with other aspects of identity and advocating for inclusive policies at all levels are essential steps. Regular evaluation and improvement of diversity and inclusion efforts are crucial for creating lasting change and unlocking the full potential of diverse talent in STEM.

- Janina, 16, North York

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The main thing that has inspires me to pursue a STEM as a future career is role models. Being able to have a role model to look up to gives people a chance to imagine themselves as their role models and the motivation to pursue that version of their selves. Having strong and smart female role models like my sister and my teachers made me see how my dreams could become a reality. I think that it doesn’t matter whether or not a role model or guest speaker is an award-winning celebrity or a local scientist. I think what matters is the fact that there is someone there for young women to inspire them. If theres one thing that world leaders in STEM could do to encourage young girls is letting them interact with many different women in STEM to show them all kinds of the people they could be.

- Chaewon, 17, BC

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When one imagines the stereotype of a mad scientist, one tends to think of an old man with thick eyeglasses and wild, grey hair. Narratives like this are exclusionary and discourage many individuals, particularly young girls, from pursuing a career in STEM. I hope, rather, that society will continue to acknowledge and celebrate the countless contributions women have made to STEM. Telling these stories will inspire many more young women to explore the STEM world.

- Ghavriel, 15, Toronto

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Seeing more men than women in STEM and hearing more about men’s accomplishments in history can discourage girls at a young age without even knowing it.  Adult encouragement plays a big role in a child’s life and can change their perspective completely.  Boys get more of this encouragement and therefore take more opportunities because they believe in themselves more than girls.  For example, in my middle school Tech Club, there are 5 times the amount of boys than girls.  Seeing these numbers can easily make girls feel out-of-place and discouraged.

- Tula, 14, Toronto

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I refuse to be a waste of air- to be someone. I want to create for the sake of science and adventure- and if I don’t make it far, I want to have my work carried out by scientists, regardless of gender and race. I don’t want to be remembered for something great, but I want to be a part of something great.

I realized I love STEM when I was hungry for so much more than what my school books had to offer. I’m currently taking the quantum computing course by UBC, and even though it’s quite rare I understand a topic very well, but it has made me realize how long my journey to seek knowledge is. As Khaje Nasir Toosi once said ” The more you learn, the more you want to learn. “

- Elise, 14, Vancouver

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