Experts bring the joys of science and technology to an enthusiastic audience
Sixty young women from grades 10 to 12 filled the i4C Innovation Centre in Trail. Here, they waited in anticipation to discover how they could have careers in science and technology.
Quantum Leaps, hosted by the Kootenay Association for Science and Technology (KAST), was a free evening conference—held March 5, 2020, just before the pandemic shut down in-person events—that brought together young women from around the Basin. The goal was to inspire them to explore science and technology careers.
“We were able to put together three amazing workshops, as well as a panel of local women,” says Kailyn Skuban, KAST Director. Led by female volunteers, the participants took part in hands-on investigations of engineering, geoscience and the trades.
“Having all the women in STEM careers here was inspiring and made it easy to visualize myself in those types of jobs.”
“Having all the women in STEM careers here was inspiring and made it easy to visualize myself in those types of jobs,” says one participant, referring to the acronym for ’science, technology, engineering and math.’ “It opened my eyes to many opportunities and possibilities that I wasn’t aware of previously.”
Young women from as far as Cranbrook and Nakusp were able to attend the conference for free, including transportation. This was thanks to support from the Trust, which provides various resources to help youth discover options, develop skills, undertake post-secondary studies and prepare for future careers.
“From trades to PhDs, they can find a space that fits them. The panel gave them a perspective that otherwise they would have not seen, thus increasing the possibilities of more girls attending STEM career paths.”Pilar Portela, Panelist and President of i4C Innovations
Quantum Leaps is just one of the ways KAST’s GLOWS program (Growing & Learning Opportunities With STEAM, which adds ‘arts’ to the STEM factor) inspires youth about careers in science and technology. The organization now plans to deliver the program virtually while exploring new possibilities.
“We are really starting to think more broadly about diversity in technology, as well as highlighting women in technology,” says Skuban. “I am really excited to host the Quantum Leaps event again next year.”
Women make up only:
• 34 per cent of the people who have bachelor’s degrees in STEM subjects
• 23 per cent of the people who work in science and technology