“Unconscious bias” essentially refers to our tendency to make assumptions without even realizing we’re doing it. It’s about stereotyping groups of people.
One such bias that is hurting women’s and girls’ potential — and in turn, Canada’s potential — concerns their aptitude for science and technology. Too often, we assume women and girls lack the innate ability to study science and math. Worse, women and girls may assume this about themselves. As a result, women are under-represented in these areas, despite the valuable contributions they already make and could make.
Another prejudice concerning all fields of research (including social sciences and humanities, arts, psychology, etc.) is that women are less able to lead research teams or large research institutions. In fact, the number of female professors and researchers is lower among the higher levels of the academic hierarchy. According to a study published in 2018 by the Academic Women's Association of the University of Alberta, the representation of women in the research community was as follows: Canada Excellence Research Chairs (3.8%), Canada 150 Research Chairs (58%), Canada Research Chairs Tier 1 (20.7%) and Canada Research Chairs Tier 2 (38.7%).
And if women researchers succeed in publishing in journals almost as cited as those in which men publish, their articles are nevertheless less cited.
It’s time for this to change — not only because change would benefit interested women and girls, but because science and gender equality are crucial for the achievement of sustainable development.
In Canada, women make up 39% of university science and technology graduates aged 25 to 34. The number is even higher in health- and education-related programs, where they make up about 80% of graduates. What this tells us is that plenty of women are succeeding very well in science. But to achieve equity, we need more of them.
Celebrate the International Day of Women and Girls in Science
This February 11, the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, in collaboration with Ingenium, the Association francophone pour le savoir - Acfas, the Royal Ontario Museum, the Canadian Museum of Nature, L'Oréal Canada and many others invite you to celebrate the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Events across the country will feature conversations, lectures, activities, discussion panels, movies and more about gender equity in science and how we can combat unconscious bias.
The focus of our campaign is to acknowledge and inspire women and girls by promoting the accomplishments of Canadian female researchers and scientists. From studying fossils to labour law, from founding a startup using AI to manage water to researching neutron stars, these women are the “sheroes” who are smashing bias in social and human sciences and natural sciences. This day is an opportunity to be an ally for women and the girls in science and help break down the stereotypes that hold them back.
Events across Canada
February 9, Ottawa: Edit-A-Thon for Women in STEM
Ingenium - Canada’s Museums of Science and Innovation, is pleased to host its first Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon in celebration of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Participants will have the opportunity to edit, add or translate Wikipedia entries for women in STEM.
Interesting fact: while women comprise about 22% of STEM entries in Wikipedia, only ~18% of the English biographies and ~17% of the French biographies are about women. Women are under-represented in the STEM fields but have significant contributions that should be shared widely with the world.
February 11, Saskatoon: Women and Water
Attend the launch of the Women and Water Lecture Series hosted by the Global Institute for Water Security, Global Water Futures — Young Professionals and Global Water Futures. Taking place at the University of Saskatchewan, the series will showcase research, support young professionals and provide a space for dialogue and networking. It will explore water-related challenges, roles of women in water, gendered water-related impacts, women researchers in water, and challenges and opportunities facing female water researchers. The first lecture of the series will dissect climate change and society.
February 11, Montreal: Podcast 20% launch
This event will consist of a series of interviews with women working in science and technology who, as the title suggests, make up only 20% of these sectors. The women who work in these fields may not be widely known, but they are passionate. In this podcast, they chat with journalists Carine Monat and Chloé Freslon.
Québec Science, the Association francophone pour le savoir - Acfas, the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, the L'Oréal Foundation and CHOQ.ca radio are organizing an event where guests will meet these journalists and exceptional women and download the first three episodes of this series. Upcoming episodes will be broadcast on Québec Science’s iTunes channel.
February 11, Facebook Live: Women Scientists of the Royal Ontario Museum
The Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto is staging a 30-minute Facebook Live panel discussion in its Earth Rangers Studio with the following female ROM scientists:
- Kim Tait, Curator Mineralogy
- Sushma Jossey, Post Doctorate, Mammalogy
- Maryam Akrami, Technician Invertebrate Zoology
- Danielle Dufault, Scientific Illustrator, Paleontology
- Heidi Sobol, Senior Conservator, Paintings
February 12, Ottawa: Empowering Women in Chemistry: A Global Networking Event
The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) will celebrate its 100th anniversary this year. In anticipation of this landmark event and to mark the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, it has organized a Global Women’s Breakfast. The breakfast will take place at a variety of locations around the world, all on the same day. In Canada, it will take place at the National Research Council Canada.
The event aims to help women chemists expand their networks locally and internationally. Women from organizations of all types—including universities, companies, national chemistry societies, government laboratories and other scientific organizations, as well as individual groups of chemists—are invited.
Canada’s event is open to chemists and scientists from academia (faculty and students) as well as federal science departments (for example, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Health Canada, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the National Research Council Canada, Natural Resources Canada and more). There will also be panel discussions focusing on mentoring and sponsorship for women in STEM.
February 12, Ottawa: CyberDay at the Canada Science and Technology Museum
The Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) as part of their Digital DASH program will be hosting a CyberDay at the Canada Science and Technology Museum for a class of high school students from the Ottawa area.
ICTC CyberDays provide students with hands-on, minds-on interactive one-day learning workshops in the form of cyber defence competitions where students learn about the cyber security threats we are facing and the skills needed to safeguard our privacy and protect the integrity of Canadian companies and governments directly by learning in real-time the skills necessary to secure a network in a fun and interactive way.
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