Gender equity in STEM youth voices – Canadian Association for Girls In Science (CAGIS)

Youth Voices: Gender Equity in STEM

We asked girls and gender diverse youth what message they would send to world leaders and policy makers about gender equity in STEM.  These are their responses.

Something that stood out to me was how in my Technical Design class, there were twice as many boys than girls, and my male teacher had a clear preference to the work the boys in my class did versus the girls no matter the assignment, and this is not fair. This is one of hundreds of cases all around the world, some more clear than others, of problems young girls have to face as they grow up in STEM. For policy makers, one thing is to talk about gender equity in STEM in conferences and talk about solutions that can be done and another thing is to actually do it. I suggest policy makers to make realistic decisions and follow up on high schools/universities/ workplaces and ask the girls and women of the problems they are facing and solution they can take, as well as the improvements they have seen. This can be applied all over the world for a more fair and equal environment in STEM.
age 14
The main thing that has inspires me to pursue a STEM as a future career is role models. Being able to have a role model to look up to gives people a chance to imagine themselves as their role models and the motivation to pursue that version of their selves. Having strong and smart female role models like my sister and my teachers made me see how my dreams could become a reality. I think that it doesn’t matter whether or not a role model or guest speaker is an award-winning celebrity or a local scientist. I think what matters is the fact that there is someone there for young women to inspire them. If theres one thing that world leaders in STEM could do to encourage young girls is letting them interact with many different women in STEM to show them all kinds of the people they could be.
age 16
A few years ago, I took two tech classes. In both of them, which had about 30 people, I was one of only three girls. Until then, I had never really experienced or seen any discrimination against women in STEM or discrepancies in the number of girls vs. boys in my classes. However, in my case, it wasn't so much discrimination as it was the stigma that coding or engineering or any other tech class was for boys. I think it's incredibly important for access to STEM education/outreach to start early on, so girls feel like they can fully explore their interests, ensure confidence in high school and beyond, and dismantle the stigma surrounding women in STEM. So we will feel like we truly belong: interacting with a subject/concept we love and not facing any pushback on account of our gender.
age 17
I did not know there was a club for girls in science until the pandemic. Since I was introduced to CAGIS, I did many hands-on activities with women scientist in different fields. Even I had opportunity to speak to women robotic engineers and asked my questions related to space and rovers on the moon. I was greatly inspired by them and my interest and confidence in STEM has greatly improved. Throughout science clubs, I gained mainy achivements and success including the CAGIS Youth STEM Award. My message to world leaders is that young girls like me should be given more opportunities to engage with STEM by supporting program like CAGIS, encouraging them with women role models by recognozing their success and contributions in STEM for future generations.
age 11
It is important to change the view point of people that girls and women are not interested in STEM. Encouraging women at younge age and make them believe that they can also be good at math and science. As a teen ambassador of CAGIS, I was able to engage in fun hands-on science activities and to take part in various science challenges. I found myself participating robotics competition at school with confidence.I hope there are more science programs, resources and challenges that support more girls and help us to close gender gap in STEM.
age 15
When one imagines the stereotype of a mad scientist, one tends to think of an old man with thick eyeglasses and wild, grey hair. Narratives like this are exclusionary and discourage many individuals, particularly young girls, from pursuing a career in STEM. I hope, rather, that society will continue to acknowledge and celebrate the countless contributions women have made to STEM. Telling these stories will inspire many more young women to explore the STEM world.
age 14
It is critical to have gender equity in STEM since these subjects involve ideas that change the world. Accessing various viewpoints and experiences through diversity and inclusion in STEM fields will lead to creative, innovative solutions that impact all of us. Advancing gender equity in STEM involves challenging stereotypes to encourage female representation in these fields, leading to increased role models and mentors. These role models can inspire girls to follow their passions and motivate them to reach their full potential. As an active member of the Canadian Association for Girls in Science (CAGIS), I have the opportunity to interact and learn from females in diverse STEM roles who have empowered me to explore the endless career possibilities in STEM.
age 15
Knowing that I could go into a STEM-based job is amazing. Right now at my school, the girls and boys do all the same work in STEM subjects, but I feel that boys brag about their achievements more. The boys get into these "fact fights" and they just keep going back and forth until someone runs out of facts. The girls usually don't say anything because they might be intimidated by this behaviour and feel dumb if they don't know all the facts. Maybe this helps boys do better and feel better about what they can do and what they know.
age 11
I think it is so important to continue to inspire girls and Women to pursue STEM because future technology and innovation needs input from all members of society. In school, when I learn about the scientists that made big discoveries, they were often men. However, I have had the chance to meet some inspiring role models through CAGIS who prove that we have the opportunity to make changes and come up with the next discoveries.
age 16
Seeing more men than women in STEM and hearing more about men's accomplishments in history can discourage girls at a young age without even knowing it. Adult encouragement plays a big role in a child's life and can change their perspective completely. Boys get more of this encouragement and therefore take more opportunities because they believe in themselves more than girls. For example, in my middle school Tech Club, there are 5 times the amount of boys than girls. Seeing these numbers can easily make girls feel out-of-place and discouraged.
age 13
Gender equity in STEM is a problem in our society that has existed for a long time, and though actions have been taken to mitigate the effects, there is still work needed to be done. Policy makers and world leaders should encourage STEM education at an early age, so that underrepresented groups, like girls/women, can be exposed to the vast variety of STEM topics. This way they will find some subject areas that peak their interest, sparking curiosity in young minds and opening new career opportunities. In order to take action in my community, my sister and I created STEM Skills for a school project. The goal was to encourage students, especially girls, to try different STEM activities at home and to explore various aspects of STEM.
age 15
Gender bias in STEM fields affects hiring, promotion, and recognition of women, who are often held to different standards and perceived as less competent. This bias leads to fewer women being hired for STEM positions, despite having the same qualifications as men. Lack of female role models and unwelcoming workplace culture may further discourage women from pursuing STEM careers. Cultures with implicit biases favouring only men in STEM fields could also add to this underrepresentation. Personally, as an innovator and advocate for young women in stem, the support my family and mentors have given has greatly supported my journey in the field of STEM!
age 15