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Girls meet STEAM mentors at Science World

By Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Published 10:46 PST, Fri November 15, 2019

While women in Canada represent nearly half of the labour force, jobs in science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) are still primarily held by men.

To encourage more females to enter these fields, TELUS World of Science’s second annual Girls and STEAM Nov. 2 aimed to shed light on this fact.

Three hundred girls, aged 11 to 13, who attended the symposium were inspired by an opening keynote speech by Bethany Downer, the Hubble Space Telescope’s public information officer.

The event also provided girls with mentorship opportunities from women working in STEAM fields, as well as facilitating an all-day community showcase.

Several Richmond women were part of the event’s Mentoring Café including Beatriz Martin, Emily Carpenter, and Sentinel reporter Lorraine Graves. Martin and Carpenter shed light on their experiences as women in male-dominated STEAM fields.

Martin says she has worked as “a character animator, freelance medical animator, and art instructor.” Carpenter works as a product development and sustainability engineer at Layfield Group Ltd.

Carpenter became interested in a career in engineering in high school, during a ‘take your child to work day.’ She met a senior female engineer and thought of the possible impact her future career could have on society and the environment.

Martin’s art illustration career stems from her early interest in animal and plant biology. She believes in the importance of effective scientific communication “with accurate, entertaining, and appealing visuals.”

Careers in STEAM are not necessarily monotonous. Martin says she gets “to live adventures” through the characters she illustrates, adding her creative job keeps her motivated.

Carpenter says the best part of her job is working with customers, suppliers, and “almost every team in the company to execute projects.”

Carpenter highlighted Layfield’s involvement in the Richmond community. Layfield employs around 180 people in Richmond and was one of the finalists for the Richmond Chamber of Commerce’s Green Business of the Year Award.

Carpenter says her work allows her to “push for more sustainable products from large chemical companies.”

Martin praised Richmond’s natural beauty, explaining she prefers to be close to nature.

“I love sketching in Steveston and running along the West Dyke Trail,” she says. 

The gender gap in many STEAM workplaces sometimes leads to harsh judgment. Carpenter says she faced gender bias during her university co-op positions. She leaves girls interested in STEAM careers with some words of advice: “To know that they don’t need to ‘settle’ in (situations of gender bias). There are good companies out there.”

Martin, who went to animation school at age 35, encourages students to “actively search for opportunities to learn and grow,” making connections to find careers that might not seem immediately apparent.

Science World’s Girls and STEAM event also helped to advertise job opportunities to the female workforce of the future.

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