March 7, 2017
The sixth annual Girls' Conference, hosted by Mount Saint Vincent University and the Alexa McDonough Institute for Women, Gender, and Social Justice (AMI), welcomed junior and senior high school girls to campus for a day of workshops and sessions in advance of International Women’s Day.
Over 250 girls attended this year’s conference on March 3, participating in workshops to enhance their leadership skills, build confidence, and discover diverse career paths and opportunities. J.D. Irving, Limited sponsored the Be Inspired, Discover Exciting Careers Panel. Girls had the opportunity to ask women in STEM about their education, career path, and succeeding in their fields.
Julia, participant at The Girls’ Conference and student at Rocky Lake Junior High, said the panel was helpful and interesting; “It was helpful to see what the panelists were like when they were my age, and how they pursued a career in science. I’d recommend this conference to girls because it’s helpful to hear about different opportunities for your future, helps define what you’re passionate about, and what your passion could lead to.”
“This year we made a special effort to reach out to Aboriginal communities to encourage young Aboriginal girls to attend,” said Dr. Tamara Franz-Odendaal, NSERC Atlantic Chair for Women in Science and Engineering for the Atlantic Region (WISEatlantic). “We hope to inspire them with opportunities and open their minds to careers in science and technology. Women have a powerful influence on communities and families. It’s important we encourage girls from all communities to open their minds to careers they may not have considered before.”
Irving Shipbuilding representatives were on-site at the Conference as well. "The process of building a ship, of seeing it go from pieces of steel to a vessel that floats into the harbour, that's an amazing thing to be part of, said Christine de Vries, Planner, Halifax Shipyard. "It takes all kinds of skills. For girls that want to work with their hands, they're excited by trades and a shipbuilding shop floor. For other girls, it's been great to talk to them, ask about their interests and share with them all of the different professions at the Halifax Shipyard."
|Irving Shipbuilding representatives at the Girls Conference talk about the diversity of careers in shipbuilding. Left to right: Christine de Vries, Planner; Penny Layman, QA Specialist; Rena Beaton HR Coordinator with Dr. Tamara Franz-Odendaal, WISE Atlantic Chair.|
Abshiro Abdille, of Kenya, is a Mount Saint Vincent University student who volunteered for the event organizing team. “I am most proud of the Girls' Conference because I am the mother of a 20 month-old girl. Seeing girls come to this conference, and leave feeling empowered and powerful, it makes me excited for my own daughter; I want to see my own girl attend this event someday and feel the same inspiration.”
Girls' Get WISE Science Retreat : On April 1, 2017 girls grades 7 to 12 get to don a lab coat and explore careers in sciences and engineering with hands-on workshops. General registration will open March 8th and is limited.
More about WISE:
The aim of the WISEatlantic program is to provide girls in junior and senior high school with access to role models active in the sciences and engineering fields through mentorships, webinars, Girls' Get WISE Science events, and Science Summer Camps. WISEatlantic also supports women in STEM careers through professional development opportunities, such as the WinSETT Leadership Program workshops, and academic advancement workshops. By 2016, the program reached over 13,000 students, teachers, academics, professionals etc., and had directly engaged 3,000 youth with almost 200 female role models in STEM.