Increasing diversity in the STEM (science, tech, engineering, math) fields is urgent because of the implications for the Canadian economy (read: all of us and our collective future), according to a recent report from Ryerson University. It warns that the ‘old boys club’ of like-minded problem solvers which are the current status quo, could hamper Canada’s ability to prosper, innovate and compete globally. It’s a big deal.
Ryerson’s Dean of Science calls out what she describes as a “bro culture” for keeping women away from STEM and for, perhaps, limiting women once they’re in. This culture feeds on stereotypes. Things as simple as a preconceived notion about what, for example, a scientist looks like.
Ana Sofia Barrows knows about this issue firsthand. She has a degree in medical physics, and she’s been harassed by strangers online for not ‘looking’ or ‘acting’ like a scientist. What does that even mean? You can read my CBC article for the full story on the importance of fighting gender stereotypes.