Representation Matters: Blackline Safety Supports Junior High Girls Interested in Careers in STEAM

Blackline Safety May 19, 2022

Girls in Science Technology Engineering and MathThank Hedy Lamarr for Wi-Fi, Marie Curie for radioactivity, Evelyn Boyd Granville for successful space missions, Rosalind Franklin for the double helix structure of DNA and Ruby Hirose for vaccines against polio.

Those are a few examples of fearless women in science who changed the world with their research and innovation. The world benefits when more women and gender-diverse people find inspiration in careers in science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics. 

Sponsorship of Operation Minerva

Half of Canadians cant name female scientistIt’s one of the reasons Blackline Safety sponsors – financially and through employee involvement – Operation Minerva at TELUS Spark in Calgary, Canada, a one-day virtual conference connecting grade 8 girls with female mentors who are actual STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) professionals.

Lara Swift, Senior Director, Product Management and Valrida Chhom, Mechanical Design Engineer represented Blackline Safety at the event on May 14th, which was attended by over 30 mentors and close to 100 grade 8 girls. Swift said events like Operation Minerva are crucial for girls to see female role models across a variety of industries:

“Kids need more exposure to real world life to help them figure out what they want to do. This event had a diverse group of speakers which was so great for the kids to hear about a variety of real experiences.”

Female professionals were represented in careers in fields as diverse as architecture, urban planning, wildlife management, oil and gas, utilities, emergency management, health and safety and academia.

Addressing the STEAM gap

“Kids ask questions that adults don’t ask – they’re really curious – and it’s so important for girls to see people like them. Representation matters,” added Swift.

girls-STEM

The latest research out of North America shows that girls and women are systematically tracked away from science and math throughout their education, limiting their access, preparation and opportunities to go into these fields as adults.

Women make up only 28% of the workforce in science, technology, engineering, art and math, and men vastly outnumber women majoring in most STEAM fields in college. The gender gaps are particularly high in some of the fastest-growing and highest-paid jobs of the future, like computer science and engineering (Source: American Association of University Women).

Celebrating diverse voices and finding inspiration

Originally stewarded by the Alberta Women’s Science Network (AWSN), Operation Minerva is a mentorship event that has been running for over 30 years in the Calgary area. The virtual platform for 2022 allowed students to connect with STEAM mentors across Canada.

Groups of students were randomly placed in virtual breakout rooms throughout the day to engage in conversations with STEAM mentors and get a glimpse of a variety of science professions.

"I love talking to students about how I got to where I am now – it wasn’t a straightforward pathway, so it’s good for them to see.”

Sponsorship of Operation Minerva aligns Blackline Safety’s community investment themes focused on the promotion of diversity in governance, access to information technology assets, environmental conservation, promotion of science, technology, engineering and math (STEAM) initiatives with youth.

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