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The Critical Link

Celebrate and take action on International Women and Girls in Science Day

Girl in a science class

Did you know that increasing the number of women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields can improve the overall economy? Analyst firm McKinsey & Company estimates, for example, that if 45% of the tech workforce in European countries were female, the combined European GDP would rise anywhere from €260 billion to €600 billion.

There are multiple other benefits from encouraging more girls and women to pursue science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) studies and career paths, including:

  • Reduce scientific biases. A recent article published in the National Library of Medicine highlights that gender disparities prevent research from reaching its fullest potential.
  • Decrease talent shortages. In Europe, for example, McKinsey reports that women hold 22% of all tech roles. The firm suggests that encouraging more women to follow STEM careers is an “economic necessity” to address today’s talent gap.
  • Improve innovation. Did you know that 95% of women struggle to fit into workplace protective gear because it is designed for a male body? Diversity in STEM introduces creative thinking and different perspectives to problem solving and engineering.

At this point, you may be thinking: “Yes, this makes sense,” or “I’ve heard these arguments before.” In fact, our Telesat team reported on these issues this time last year.

Yet, these challenges will not be resolved until we take action. That is why Telesat continues to provide multiple scholarships annually to help women pursue STEM studies. Stay tuned for details about this year’s program that is launching in February.

Last year, we offered suggestions for individuals and institutions to help promote girls and women to continue their STEM studies and career paths. To celebrate this year’s United Nations International Day of Women & Girls in Science on Feb. 11, here are some new ideas:

  • Ingenium is a Canadian institution that oversees national museums related to science and technology. It has launched an initiative to advance and retain young women, as well as non-binary and diverse individuals in STEM fields. Learn more about the efforts and ways to get involved.
  • The Government of Canada provides a wealth of tools and resources to support gender equality. First, read about how they are working to empower girls and women, and then take a look at the tools and resources they provide to support gender equality.
  • Reinvented Inc., a nonprofit organization that aspires to change general perceptions about women in STEM, is raising funds to launch 1,000 female “Legonauts” in a high-altitude balloon on March 9. You can donate or sponsor one of these Lego minifigures, and in return, obtain some special perks.
  • Become what the American Association of University Women calls a “two-minute activist” by contacting government officials and requesting they support diversity-related legislation, whether it’s to reduce the gender pay gap, encourage funding for STEM educational programs, or other issues.

Finally, consider ways to inspire confidence among girls and women about STEM topics. It may be as simple as a personal effort to stop saying “I’m bad at math,” which perpetuates the perception that these fields are too difficult for certain people to pursue. Or, you might share stories about women who have left indelible marks on space, such as Yvonne Brill and Elsie MacGill.

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