The University of Regina celebrates International Day of Women and Girls in Science

By University Advancement and Communications Posted: February 11, 2022 1:00 p.m.

February 11 is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science
February 11 is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science iStock

A significant gender gap exists in the field of science. According to the Canadian Association for Girls in Science, women make up only 23 per cent of science and technology workers and less than four per cent of trades workers in Canada. Statistics Canada data reveals that male graduates of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are more likely than female STEM graduates to be employed in a STEM occupation.

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Dr. Jennifer Gordon is a psychology professor, director of the Women's Mental Health Research Unit, and a Canada Research Chair in Women's Mental Health.
Photo by U of R Photography
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Dr. Sandra Zilles is a computer scientist, Canada Research Chair in Computational Learning Theory, and CIFAR AI Chair.
Photo by U of R Photography

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Dr. Samantha Lawler is an astronomer.
Photo by U of R Photography

This is one of the reasons why it’s necessary to highlight female scientists working in the field and why, in 2015, the UN declared February 15 the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Their goal is to “achieve full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls, and further achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.”

To help celebrate and honour this goal, the University of Regina shines a light on some of our female scientists:

Dr. Jennifer Gordon, psychology professor, director of the Women's Mental Health Research Unit, and Canada Research Chair in Women's Mental Health says as a woman in the STEM she takes her role as a mentor and role model very seriously.

“When I was a graduate student, most of the people I looked up to were men and it made me question whether I could really be successful and have the kind of life I envisioned for myself. Now, I'm open with my trainees about all of the challenges and doubts that I had early on but I also try to show them that while I absolutely love my job, the rest of my life is also very full. I didn't have to give up on all that to be successful in my career.”

Dr. Sandra Zilles is a computer scientist, Canada Research Chair in Computational Learning Theory, and CIFAR AI Chair. She says being a woman in STEM means that she can use her strengths and abilities to advance scientific research, working in a field she loves, while at the same time contributing to a gradual change in societal perception of STEM professions.

“My career has been (and is still) supported by both female and male colleagues who understand some of the challenges that women in STEM face, and I am actively trying to do the same for women considering a STEM career.”

Astronomer Dr. Samantha Lawler says she’s working in her dream job – learning about space and teaching people what she learns. And while Lawler knows that representation matters, and that it's important for girls to see women in science (so they know it's an option for them), it can also be difficult.

“My job is incredible. It’s the best job in the world. But, as a mother of two young kids during COVID, it’s also very difficult. There are many days when I have no child care – and I didn’t expect to have this job with no child care, along with all of the extra stresses that the pandemic has ushered in. With the majority of childcare typically falling to women, I know many of my colleagues feel the same way.”

The University of Regina recognizes our incredible female scientists and is proud to support and highlight their significant achievements throughout the year.

Research is part of the Discovery area of focus in the University of Regina’s [2020-2025 Strategic Plan kahkiyaw kiwȃhkomȃkȃninawak – All Our Relations]. The University values and supports an environment that allows for high-quality teaching, research, and learning that strengthens the academic successes of our students and faculty and improves the lives of Canadians.