Posted February 13th, 2017 by Tyler Irving

STEM needs women: International Day of Women and Girls in Science

  • Professor Angela Schoellig (UTIAS, at right) demonstrates one of her flying robots to a future innovator. Schoellig was part of a panel convened to celebrate the International Day of Women and Girls in Science on February 11, 2017. (Photo: Tyler Irving)

Science, technology, engineering and math — the STEM disciplines — need women. That was the message from a panel convened for the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, held February 11, 2017 at Facebook’s Toronto headquarters. The discussion, aimed at inspiring and celebrating women and girls in STEM, was hosted by Canadian entrepreneur Erica Ehm and webcast live. The panel featured STEM leaders and experts, including:

  • The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Canada’s Minister of Science
  • The Honourable Maryam Monsef, Canada’s Minister of Status of Women
  • Jennifer Flanagan, CEO of Actua
  • Amanda Mason of Oculus, Facebook’s virtual reality platform
  • Professor Angela Schoellig (UTIAS), an expert in autonomous flying robots from U of T Engineering

An exclusive audience of more than 100 women and girls gathered to learn more about careers in STEM, with many more joining online.

Watch the webcast from the International Day of Women and Girls in Science event

“Scientists get to help change the world,” said Minister Duncan, who recounted her experience leading an expedition to the Arctic to trace the source of the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic. “On this year’s International Day of Women and Girls in Science, I want to encourage girls and young women to choose science — because choosing science helps to create a culture of curiosity. By asking questions and exploring all opportunities, our young women will be on a road to making discoveries that will change Canada and the world for the better.”

Schoellig praised the audience members for taking the first step on their journey. “When I was your age, I didn’t know what the job of a scientist would look like,” she said. “I didn’t know it could be so collaborative, so creative and so much fun.”

Schoellig and her team are designing autonomous flying robots that could be used for environmental monitoring, health care and many other applications.

U of T Engineering student Nathalin Moy (Year 4 EngSci) said that her favourite part was getting to meet the ministers in person. She was also inspired by another one of Professor Schoellig’s key messages: different is good.

“This is an idea that I live by. I’ve always taken the road less travelled and being a minority has never stopped me from pursuing something,” said Moy. “For me, being different is empowering and an opportunity to be a leader, setting a precedent for others to follow.”