Dr. Poh Tan
Director of Strategic Partnerships & Fundraising, SCWIST
Board Member, SCWIST
As an immigrant to Canada from Malaysia at 10 years old, I’ve always felt embarrassed by my accent and I was often teased about not having an “English” name. Although a long time has passed, “You’re a scientist? But you’re a girl!” is still something I hear when I share my research.
Sadly, my story is hardly unique. Nasira Aziz, also an immigrant, chose to stay home to raise her children for 15 years. Despite having an MBA in Innovation Leadership and substantive work experience, she faced challenges in returning to her profession.
As Board members at SCWIST (Society for Canadian Women in Science and Technology), we share our experiences, support each other, and provide mentorship for women in STEM. Our goal is to bring equity, diversity, and inclusivity to the forefront. This includes innovating ways of learning, advocating for more diverse representation in leadership, and creating opportunities for culturally diverse people to thrive in their careers.
We believe that a community becomes diverse when we dissolve boundaries that separate scholarship based on discipline, equitable when traditional boundaries of knowledge and acceptance are disrupted, and inclusive when different ways of knowing and learning are embraced. Removing barriers for women in STEM will unlock the innovation potential and economic prosperity for all.
As the voice for women in STEM for 40 years, SCWIST is a national non-profit that promotes, encourages, and empowers women and girls through programs including STEM Job Board, Make Possible mentorship and Make DIVERSITY Possible. Dr. Poh Tan is an entrepreneur, TEDx speaker, and published author. As SCWIST Director of Strategic Partnerships and Fundraising, Dr. Poh expands the impact of programs that engage youth, create mentoring connections, advance leadership capacity, and advocate for change. Nasira Aziz was the Director for Leadership and Immigrating Women in STEM (IWIS) program.