Over 100 Grade 7 girls filled the halls of the Quantum-Nano Centre on Jan. 20 to attend a pilot program launched by the City of Waterloo to inspire girls to pursue pathways in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics).
The full day event kicked-off with an opportunity for the students to meet and speak with female role models from the community over lunch. Initially hoping to get 20 role models, over 60 women in STEAM attended eager to share their enthusiasm for their respective fields.
“One of the things that’s great about our community is the networking and the getting together,” Mayor Dave Jaworsky, who along with his wife, launched the Girls in STEAM initiative, said.
“What we wanted to go is take as many female role models as I could get in the community, combine them with Grade 7 girls and let the experience and the enthusiasm be shared amongst all of them. That was why I wanted to put this together, to get the networking down to the individual level so that they can get inspired by all these women who’ve done so many great things. Founders, CEOs of different companies, cryptographers, and show that anything’s possible.”
After some words from Hon. Bardish Chagger, a UWaterloo science grad herself, and Dean of Engineering Pearl Sullivan, STEAM professionals shared their experiences as Grade 7 students, gave advice and encouraged girls to continue to learn and grow, and encouraged working together across multiple fields to build a better world for all.
The pilot is designed with specifically girls in Grade 7 in mind.
“When students are making their choices for high school, for grade 9, they’re making it in grade 8,” Mayor Jaworsky said. “At grade 7, they’re sponges for knowledge.”
Moving forward, Mayor Jaworsky says that the next step is to analyze the pilot: “My goal is to create this as a kit so that any city with universities and colleges [can put a similar event into action]. All that you really need are the female role models. We’ve seen the enthusiasm,” Mayor Jaworsky added.
“I was hoping to get 20, we ended up with over 60. We sent a hundred invitations out there, we had an attendance of over a hundred … Grade 7 girls. There’s an enthusiasm and a quest for this kind of thing in the community and I don’t see why there isn’t a quest for this all throughout Canada, in all different towns and cities.”