When Cathy Simpson saw the movie Hidden Figures with her daughter, it was the catalyst that launched the idea: show free screenings of the movie to inspire girls in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.)
Cathy is the founder of UP + GO, an organization that inspires girls to pursue opportunities in entrepreneurship and STEM. J.D. Irving, Limited (JDI) loved the idea of bringing young women to the screenings in Saint John, Fredericton and Moncton as well as sharing the stories of women involved in STEM careers in JDI businesses. Shows in all three cities sold out.
"Cathy's initiative is something we really support. We have a skilled and dedicated group of women who are vital to STEM activities that impact all of our operations. We're proud of them and hope sharing their stories at the screening inspires other young women. Over the next 3 years we are looking to hire 4300 people in STEM related jobs."
"I've worked in the tech sector for 27 years," said Cathy who is also Vice President of Technology for T4G Limited. "I believe we need to be role models for the next generation so they see the opportunities in STEM. A movie like this is one example for them to see that. Plus they were able to meet a bunch of amazing New Brunswick women in STEM. Sometimes it's those connections that get people engaged - that's what we're hoping to do."
Cathy expressed that corporate sponsorship is what made the event possible. "When a company like JDI instantly gets on board with an initiative like this, that tells me they are as concerned about the issue of women's under-representation in STEM as I am."
Before the film, girls were able to meet women in their own communities in diverse STEM careers. These mentors shared their educational background and career journey in male-dominated fields. Angie Davis, Manager of Application Development, GIS and Business Intelligence from JDI's Information Technology Division spoke at the Saint John screening.
"My engineering degree at Dalhousie University provided me with the training and skills that have been key to the delivery data insight and processes during my career," said Angie. "This was an excellent event to get girls excited about the possibilities of careers in technology and beyond."
| Maggie and Alex, Rothesay Elementary and Harry Miller Middle School students in grades 4 and 6, pose in the UP + GO photo booth before the screening of Hidden Figures in Saint John.
Students of all ages attended the event. Izzy, a grade five student from Fairville Elementary School, has her sights set on a career that combines two of her passions, "I want to be an animator," Izzy said. " It combines art and tech."
Izzy's advice to other girls for pursuing their dreams? "Believe in yourself because you can do anything if you try."
Well said, Izzy.
Learn more about UP + GO.
See some inspiring stories of JDI engineers, skilled trades, and co-op students.
Apply for a co-op experience or job in Finance, Engineering or IT with JDI.