Professional Mechanical Engineer & Member of SCWIST’s Policy & Impact Committee
Only 24.5 percent of engineering students in Canada are women. Of this small number, only 12.8 percent continue to pursue a career in engineering. The Society for Canadian Women in Science and Technology (SCWIST) is working to change that. Since 1981, SCWIST has been promoting equal access for women and girls in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) through education, mentorship, partnerships, and advocacy programs.
Reaching the next generation of women innovators is central to SCWIST’s mission. SCWIST’s Youth Engagement program, known as ms infinity (math + science = infinite options), does just that with community-based programming designed to show young women and girls the infinite STEM career options available to them.
“Through conferences, interactive workshops, e-mentoring and scholarships, ms infinity gives girls from kindergarten to high school the chance to learn from and be inspired by some of the brightest female STEM role models,” says Damineh Akhavan, a professional mechanical engineer and member of SCWIST’s Policy and Impact Committee.
Diversity an important element in SCWIST programming
Because gender, cultural and skill diversity drive innovation and are linked to a competitive advantage, SCWIST offers several diversity-related programs.
Through the MakePossible free online mentoring platform, members from diverse backgrounds and leadership levels can share and exchange skills and expertise. MakePossible focuses on advancing diversity in STEM through 360-degree mentoring, skills exchange and professional connections. This type of mentoring is also a key part of the Make DIVERSITY Possible program – an employer suite of tools and workshops to help companies attract a diverse workforce and create inclusive workplace cultures where everyone thrives.
Immigrating Women in STEM is designed to help newcomer Canadian women with STEM backgrounds build their careers in Canada by providing them with a community, networks, events and professional development workshops.
By joining SCWIST, women of all ages and stages in their STEM careers can access these programs, along with a broad range of resources, events and support.
“You get to be part of a dynamic group of people who are working to empower women in STEM and advocate for real change,” says Akhavan.