STEM and the gender gap: Let’s balance the equation

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STEM – science, technology engineering and math. When we think of these things, we still typically picture men doing these jobs. While many women do in fact have careers in these fields, it still for some reason seems like a taboo career choice. As a young woman who will be graduating from high school in June and who’s thinking about going into chemistry, it is very important to me that we start closing the gap between men and women in STEM. That’s why I’m so thankful for Girl Guides.

Being a Girl Guide has pushed me to recognize that studying chemistry is an excellent choice. Many young girls need to realize that we NEED more women in STEM. Men and women think differently, and by having both men and women in STEM, they can combine their ideas into one. More women are needed to pursue STEM careers so we can shatter the myth of ‘that’s only a career for men.’ By reassuring young girls that wanting to be the next mathematical genius or the inventor of the cure for cancer is okay, they begin to gain confidence in themselves and feel empowered to pursue their goals.

Girl Guides of Canada–Guides du Canada (GGC) has always been there, helping me discover new career options and encouraging me to follow my dreams. Whether through some of my Guiders who work in STEM or through programming we have done, I’ve discovered that women are in fact needed to help make scientific advances. This year, STEM is the focus of GGC’s International Day of the Girl Instant Meeting programming.

Every girl should have access to STEM – it’s crucial. It can be through hands-on learning experiences, or even just taking one simple math class. That one simple math or science class could change their whole life. Girls need opportunities to discover all of the amazing aspects of STEM, all of the incredible career opportunities, and how STEM leads to so many advances in the world. Not only is STEM changing the world, the women in STEM are, too. If every girl in the world had access to learning one tiny branch of STEM, there would be many more women studying in these fields.

I was lucky enough to be introduced to chemistry in grade 9. From the moment I learned the periodic table and what the elements meant, and how to form bonds and balance equations, I knew it was what I wanted to do. I had never been interested in science until chemistry. As my interest grew, people began saying how incredible it was ‘that I was a girl going into sciences’ and ‘wow, you’re brave for doing that.’ But why should it be incredible, and why should I be brave for doing something that I think is interesting? It should just be considered normal for me to want to pursue science.

Every year, we get closer to closing the gap between men and women in STEM. One day, the gap will be completely gone and there will be no more ‘what a brave young women you are for doing science.’ Because it isn’t brave, it’s just someone following their passion.

Guest post by Olivia Trivett, a 17-year-old Ranger from Halifax who recently received her Chief Commissioner’s Gold Award. Olivia hopes to study chemistry, and eventually research pharmaceutical drugs in her own research lab. Check out her previous blog post, Marching with Pride.

idg_2016Check out the GGC Make a Difference Day International Day of the Girl Instant Meeting. The meeting focuses on UN Sustainable Development Goal number 5 – Gender Equality by Closing the Gap between boys and girls engaged in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

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2 Responses to STEM and the gender gap: Let’s balance the equation

  1. Dan Trivett says:

    Very proud to be your father.

  2. Lauren Patrick says:

    Olivia, great job on this post! I absolutely agree with you that we need people from diverse backgrounds in all fields of work, especially STEM. Each person has a unique point of view that, when combined, contribute to better solutions to those big problems scientists and engineers are trying to solve.

    I graduated from high school in 2009 and went on to study mechanical engineering in university. I, like you, was surprised by the response of one of my high school teachers when I told them this and how it did not seem to be the norm in his mind. My current career has me on a team of primarily male colleagues and while we often approach situations differently through our work, they do not seem particularly surprised to see a female in engineering!

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