Women’s Health Helps Bring a Voice to the Table in Support of Women in Science
In December 2017, approximately 300 students, teachers, industry, community partners, and policy-makers gathered in Toronto to contribute to the future of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) learning in Canada.
The Canada 2067 National Leadership Conference, organized by Let’s Talk Science, brought important stakeholders together to cultivate an in-depth conversation around the challenges and goals of preparing Canadian youth to thrive in a technology-driven world for generations to come. The format was very interactive with many experts discussing such topics as global competencies, digital literacy, effective teaching, balancing access, gender and excellence, community engagement, Indigenous learners support and much more.
Bayer Canada’s Women’s Health team pledged to support the empowering of women by working with Let’s Talk Science. One of the first things discovered at the Conference was the lack of participants directly involved with issues concerning girls and women involvement in STEM.
We saw an immediate opportunity for Bayer, and more specifically for the Women’s Health team, to help bring this issue to the table. We sponsored several people from across Canada to contribute to this very important conversation."
Joining Janine at the conference was Lisa Flaifel, Business Unit Head of Women’s Health and Sandra Da Silva, Communications Business Partner from Bayer. Together, they hosted Danniele Livengood, Vice-President and Director of Events for the Society for Canadian Women in Science and Technology (SCWIST) (Vancouver) and Christine Fontaine, PhD candidate in Neuroscience at the University of Victoria, a member of SCWIST; Dr. Fidji Gendron and Dr. Vincent Ziffle, both professors from First Nations University of Canada (Regina); Jade Atkins, PhD student in Earth Sciences at Carleton University (Ottawa) and long-time Let’s Talk Science supporter; Erin Kelly (London) Coordinator of Indigenous Initiatives at Let’s Talk Science; and finally Beth Malcolm, Director of Community Initiatives and Grants at Canadian Women’s Foundation (Toronto).
“It means a lot that Bayer has chosen to engage the voices of both women and First Nations in this conversation,” says Erin Kelly, Coordinator of Indigenous Initiatives, Let’s Talk Science. “As a First Nations woman with a background in STEM, I have often felt very isolated.”
In higher education, only 35 per cent of all students enrolled in STEM-related fields are female. Today, only 28 per cent of all of the world’s researchers are women. Gender stereotypes and biased attitudes compromise the quality of the learning experience for female students and limit their education choices.
At Bayer, specifically the Pharmaceutical Division, 60 per cent of our employees are women and 63 per cent are leaders, which is highly unusual for a global multinational corporation. The Canadian Women’s Foundation identified that a lack of confidence may cause girls to question their abilities to succeed in these traditionally male STEM subjects. They identified one of the best ways to help a girl develop confidence is through mentorship. The Society for Canadian Women in Science and Technology (SCWIST) understands this well and developed a mentorship network with the Government of Canada’s Status of Women. The free mentorship network “Make Possible” provides mentoring support, networking connections, professional development, and leadership opportunities to help women reach their full potential in all STEM fields. If you are interested to help with this endeavour, please join today in support of advancing girls in science and technology.
“Our guests who participated in the conference helped provide a unique viewpoint and had the opportunity to share their experiences with other participants,” says Lisa Flaifel, Business Unit Head of Women’s Health, Bayer Inc. “I was happy that Bayer played a role in bringing gender and culture challenges to the discussion.”
Comments from the Participants
“We need more people to recognize that STEM is everywhere and that we do ‘science’ every day.”
“We need more adults to be engaged in STEM in our communities to provide better opportunities for our students.”
“Every child is a scientist at birth.”
“Are we educating students properly for the careers of the future—careers that are not yet well-defined, are currently in flux, or do not exist yet.”
“Science no longer just about ‘what’, it is about ‘why’ and ‘how’.”
“Increasing the amount of female and First Nations/Indigenous participants in STEM is very important and it stands to reason that the participation of female First Nations people in STEM is of paramount concern.”
“Diversity is a fact. Inclusion is a choice.”
“This was one of the most enriching conferences I have had the chance to attend.”