Manitoba mentor advocates for girls in STEM across schools

Dr. Anju Bajaj is mentoring and advocating for hundreds of girls in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) across schools in Manitoba.

Bajaj, who has four master’s degrees and a PhD, says she could teach anywhere but it’s crucial to get interested in STEM at a young age.

“They are the roots, they are the foundation. And we have to make our foundation very strong – only then will we get the fruitful desserts,” she said.

She says the number of girls in science has grown a lot since she was going to school – and that momentum is very encouraging.

However, Larissa Vingillis-Jaremko from the Canadian Association of Girls in Science – says men continue to dominate STEM fields.

“Women are underrepresented in STEM fields in Canada. Right now they make up less than 24 per cent of science and technology workers, and less than 5 per cent of trades workers.” she said.

Story continues below advertisement

Click to play video: 'EmpowHer graduation'

EmpowHer graduation

On a positive note, there’s no shortage of interest in science among girls, according to Grade 10 students Tsiona Bera and Praise Olowoyeye. Through clubs — extracurriculars – and science fairs – they’re exploring plenty of options for their future.

Get the latest National news. Sent to your email, every day.

“Learning about science in a way that’s interactive and so filling,  it made me feel whole knowing there’s so many opportunities. I wish I knew this before.” said Olowoyeye.

They both say seeing greater representation of women’s achievements in STEM fields makes them hopeful.

‘It’s just great to know that, it may be hard now, but people have gone through it, other women have gone through it, and it’s a possibility. It’s less impossible.” said Bera.

Bajaj agrees that having female role models is critically important but there’s more work to be done and she believes broader support and more industry partnerships will give young girls even more room to grow.

Story continues below advertisement

“Provide some infrastructure there, provide some lab facilities here. We need a little more funding so we can encourage the youth. Because science does not happen in these four walls – it doesn’t happen in isolation.” she said.

Bajaj hopes that with that support, every girl who comes into her classroom will have more and more chances to succeed.

Bera and Olowoyeye will be showcasing their passion for science at the Bison Regional Science Fair in April.

— With files from Global’s Katherine Dornian

More on Canada

&© 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.