Young Women In STEM & their allies step forward at York University & Université de Montréal

I am very glad that the York University and University of Toronto TA and contract faculty strikes are over. I wasn't lecturing this term, so my work life was much less disrupted than that of many others: students, faculty and staff.

Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 2.42.53 PMZoe in actionFor me, March 2015 wasn't only about the emotional exhaustion of dealing with the impact of the York strike, but, on a happier, more uplifting note, was about celebrating Women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), at York University (Dr. Sherry Boodram, Lisa Cole and Zoë Davis, left to right), and at Université de Montréal (below). Hearing stories of successes (and failures) from women, and, learning about the trends in the data and sharing policies that can help us to challenge unconscious and subtle social norms has been inspiring and energizing.

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On Monday March 30th, I gave an invited lecture about my route from ecology field work to researching science policy in the Département de sciences biologique. I was also invited to participate in a meeting about Women in Science, taking place later that same day, led by two dynamic young graduate students, Gwyneth MacMillan (@gwynmac) and Catherine Girard (@cath_girard). They presented and discussed a recent Science paper by Leslie et al. 2015: Expectations of brilliance underlie gender distributions across academic disciplines. Science 347:262. This was followed by a lively discussion. It was wonderful to hear so many young women discussing this issue, in French (and kindly allowing me to speak in English - as the day progressed, and my brain got tired, my ability to speak and think in French became severely degraded).

Marc Amyot grad photo U MontrealGwyn and Catherine are supervised by department chair, Professor Marc Amyot (left in the hallway Université de Montréal BSc graduation photo!). Marc did his PhD in Biology at York University from 1992-95 (I was on his committee: small world!). One of the key lessons that has emerged from the research literature is that men are key allies in overcoming barriers to women participating more fully in STEM. My thanks to Marc and the male professors, post-docs and students who participated in the discussion (photo at top).

On Saturday March 7th, we held a very fun event at the Keele Campus as part of York University's celebrations of the Faculty of Science's 50th anniversary. Eight female science and engineering York University alum from the past few decades shared their experiences and stories with current university and school students. It was emotional and inspiring, and you can read about it here, and eventually, podcasts of the day will be posted (my bad).

Gill Wu in lecture hall2 Gill Wu in lecture hall Nick gets advice from Gill Wu

Dawn Bazely