The under-representation of women in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) was the theme of a recent conference attended by 10 SAC students.
Now in its second year, the Coalition of Single Sex Schools of Toronto (COSSOT) STEM Council is made up of male and female high school students. The Council grew this year from originally being a partnership between St. Mildred’s Lightbourn School and Branksome Hall to include several other schools, including St. Andrew’s College.
The major goal of the Council is to host an annual conference centered on an important and contemporary issue of the Council’s choice. This year, the group examined the reasons women are under-represented in the STEM fields. This is an especially pertinent issue in fields such as engineering where, for example, women in Canada only account for just over 30% of graduates. As such, the conference this year was named STEMinism 2016, a natural hybrid between STEM and feminism.
Attendees of the April 20 full-day conference at the University of Toronto had the opportunity to hear from keynote speakers including Dr. Shohini Ghose (director of physics and computer science at Wilfred Laurier University) and Dr. Renee Hlozek (professor of astrophysics at the University of Toronto and Rhodes Scholar).
The students were also able to participate in more hands-on workshops taught by professors and PhD candidates that ranged from computer coding to sustainable urban infrastructure. Finally, the students were able to participate in a question and answer panel where speakers and workshop leaders shared their personal experiences.
Each year, members from the COSSOT schools are appointed to the group by their teachers, school administrations, and student leaders. This year, the SAC group was led by me, William Deo ’17, along with Trew Morris ’17 and Melvin Maroon ’17.
The Council is already looking forward to its third year and is eagerly awaiting the 2017 conference. It hopes to increase its reach within the COSSOT schools.