Sharing our Love for Science with High School Students: Laurentian SETAC celebrates the International Day of Women and Girls in Science

 A note from Oana Birceanu, the 2019 Laurentian SETAC President

 On December 22, 2015, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) General Assembly voted to establish a day to recognize the essential role that women and girls play in science. The International Day of Women and Girls in Science is February 11 and it was celebrated for the first time in 2017. Laurentian SETAC has been marking it since its very beginning.

From left to right: Drs. Richard Frank, Ève Gilroy, Leah Chibwe and Sarah Roberts

This year, on February 11, 2019, the Laurentian Chapter of SETAC celebrated the International Day of Women and Girls in Science by taking the discussion on diversity and equity to Robert Bateman High School in Burlington. To take it one step further, our chapter organized a “Science on the Road” event, where government, consulting and academic groups shared their love for science with the students. There were 15 interactive booths, where students got to do hands-on experiments such as building their own water filter, trying on field equipment, cutting a sediment core, observing aquatic invertebrates in action, and answering science-based quizzes to test their knowledge. Approximately 350 students from six local high schools participated in the event. The local participating schools were: Craig Kielburger Secondary School, Dr Frank J. Hayden Secondary School, Garth Webb Secondary School, Nelson High School, École Secondaire Gaétan-Gervais and Robert Bateman High School.

The event was conceptualized, organized and led by four of our most active members, in close collaboration with Ms. Megan Merwart, Literacy and Student Success teacher at Robert Bateman High School. Our members, who are also part of the L-SETAC Diversity in Science Committee, have put themselves in the spotlight, to advocate for equity and diversity in science:

Dr. Leah Chibwe – Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Environment and Climate Change Canada
Dr. Richard Frank – Research Scientist at Environment and Climate Change Canada
Dr. Ève Gilroy – Research Scientist at Environment and Climate Change Canada
Dr. Sarah Roberts – Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Environment and Climate Change Canada

The day started with an introduction of the event, led by Drs. Gilroy, Frank and Roberts, where they talked about the importance of celebrating and promoting diversity in our community. This was followed by presentations from five women scientists, representing academia, government and industry, at various stages of their careers: Leah Chibwe, Natalie Feisthauer, Sheena Campbell, Karen Bechard and myself. I was fortunate to be a part of that group and to tell my story as an immigrant, who then became a scientist. Hearing about everyone’s journeys and being part of a group that celebrates our diversity, our accents, our multiculturalism and our abilities was a very powerful moment for me and prompted me to write this note, as the current president of the chapter. This event has made me realize how lucky we are to be part of Laurentian SETAC, a chapter that is small, by comparison to its parent organization, but one that has a powerful voice, a voice that did and will continue to make a difference in our community and beyond.

I am grateful to Ève, Leah, Rick and Sarah for using their voices to stand up for what they believe in. I would also like to thank them, and all our participating groups, for their commitment to our chapter and for dedicating their free time to send an important message to the next generation of scientists. The age of early adolescence is when important decisions are made regarding one’s career. My hope is that, through this event, our chapter has encouraged more teenagers to do two things for themselves: 1) stand up for what they believe in: promote equity and embrace diversity, and 2) know that they can be whatever you want to be, irrespective of gender, ability and cultural background.

Lastly, I would also like to take this opportunity to encourage all our members to take part in the Laurentian SETAC events. You will find a very supportive group, where its members uplift each other and take that spirit to the community around them. I am very proud to be a part of this chapter!

Sincerely,

Oana

Oana Birceanu, Ph.D.

President, Laurentian Chapter of SETAC

Thank you for celebrating the 2019 International Day of Women and Gills in Science with Laurentian SETAC

 

 Resources

For more information on IDWGS, please visit:  https://en.unesco.org/commemorations/womenandgirlinscienceday

Laurentian SETAC celebrates the International Day of Women and Girls in Science (2017): http://www.laurentiansetac.ca/2018/04/l-setac-celebrate-international-day-of-women-and-girls-in-science/

Laurentian SETAC celebrates the International Day of Women and Girls in Science (2018): http://www.laurentiansetac.ca/event/we-are-here-constructive-actions-towards-achieving-equity-in-science-wednesday-february-21-2018/?instance_id=16225

Articles published by the L-SETAC Diversity in Science Committee in The Globe, SETAC:

2018: https://globe.setac.org/constructive-actions/

2017: https://globearchive.setac.org/2016/may/women-in-science.html