Biochemist, Project Management at Genome BC and Youth Engagement Director, SCWIST
Dr. Anju Bajaj
STEM Educator, Associate Principal, Research Scientist, Prime Minister’s Teaching Award Recipient & Manitoba Lead, SCWIST
The pandemic’s disproportionate effects on women are a clear call to action to remove barriers affecting women and girls in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math). The Society for Canadian Women in Science and Technology (SCWIST) has delivered high-impact programs to support diversity and promote representation in STEM since 1981.
SCWIST advocates for the next generation of women in STEM to ensure they have a more inclusive and equitable experience by empowering girls to be confident and instilling a sense of belonging in these fields at an early age. The society has broadened its influence in the last 40 years.
ms infinity, SCWIST’s longest-running program for youth, includes the Quantum Leaps conferences, e-mentoring, workshops, and outreach to Indigenous communities. The program is currently overseen by JeAnn Watson, SCWIST’s Youth Engagement Director. Originally a biochemist, Watson switched to project management after completing her master’s degree. She began her career in Jamaica and recalls that there was limited discourse on what options were available to her. “This motivated me to spread awareness of what’s possible in the sciences. I was lucky to have a female supervisor who supported me in my journey,” she says.
“SCWIST volunteers have made it possible to expand to Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, and Alberta. Our volunteers are role models actively engaged in shaping the future of the next generation of STEM leaders,” says Dr. Anju Bajaj, SCWIST Manitoba Chapter Lead. “Encouraging more girls to participate in STEM is a way to reduce the gender gap, resulting in better access to financial security, as well as ensuring a diverse workforce.” She received the Prime Minister’s Teaching Excellence Award in 2021.
To support newcomers, BIPOC, and 2SLGBTQ+ communities, SCWIST offers programs like Make DIVERSITY Possible, Immigrating Women in STEM, and the recently-launched Supporting Safe STEM Workplaces in partnership with WomanACT.