Why STEM advocacy?
The need for diverse expertise, perspectives and voices in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields has never been more critical.
STEM organizations play a key role in shaping the future of their fields. By embracing equity, diversity and inclusion, they embrace the following advantages:
Innovation: Innovation thrives when diverse minds come together. Women and underrepresented groups bring unique perspectives, experiences and problem-solving approaches to the table. When STEM organizations prioritize their inclusion, more groundbreaking discoveries and technological solutions are made.
Building a stronger workforce: By actively advocating for women and diverse groups, organizations can attract a wider pool of talent and build a stronger, more skilled workforce that reflects the diverse global community they serve. This fosters an environment of creativity, productivity, and resilience.
Driving economic growth: Studies consistently show that diverse and inclusive workplaces lead to improved financial performance and economic growth. By promoting diversity in STEM, organizations can contribute to a more equitable society and drive economic prosperity.
Addressing the gender gap: Women remain underrepresented in STEM fields, and this gender gap hinders progress. By participating in advocacy efforts, STEM organizations can help break down barriers, create supportive environments and inspire women to pursue STEM careers.
Creating inclusive spaces: Advocacy for women and diverse groups in STEM fosters a culture of inclusivity, where every individual feels valued, respected and heard. Inclusive environments nurture collaboration, boost employee satisfaction and enhance overall organizational success.
SCWIST’s history of advocacy
SCWIST has a deep history of public involvement and advocacy. Members have actively contributed to various committees and presentations, including:
- The Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women
- The BC Partners in Science Awareness Committee
- The Premier’s Science Advisory Committee
- Innovate BC (formerly BC Science Council)
- The Women in Science, Technology, Trades, and Engineering Steering Committee
- The Canadian Coalition for Women in Engineering, Science, Trades and Technology.
Early collaborations involved CAWIS, the Canadian Association of Girls in Science, Women in Trades and Technology, Gender and Science and Technology, and the BC Science Teachers Association.
We’ve had the privilege of being asked numerous times to provide expert testimony at the Canadian Government’s House of Commons Standing Committee on the Status of Women to share our expertise and provide recommendations on:
- Key recommendations to advance women in leadership (November 2014)
- How to address barriers to women’s participation, retention and advancement in STEM (April 2015)
- How to increase STEM participation, advance leadership and improve economic security of women (May 2017)
Our leadership team has directly engaged with government leaders to advocate for STEM and gender equality:
- Meeting with SWC Minister Hajdu in January 2016 to discuss how to address systemic challenges for women and girls in STEM
- Meeting with SWC (now Department of WAGE – Women and Gender Equality) Minister Monsef in August 2019 to share the results of the Make DIVERSITY Possible Project, to engage community partners and to advocate for continued support to advance gender equality in STEM
- Regular meetings with WAGE staff to identify priorities and provide recommendations on promising practices to advance gender equality in STEM fields
As part of our advocacy work, SCWIST contributes to Canada’s G7 position on global gender equality and how to promote greater engagement in STEM:
- G7 Civic Society Outreach Roundtable Event in Ottawa in April 2016
- Specific recommendations to advance STEM
- G7 Summit Follow-up Roundtable in Ottawa (May 2017)
- Vancouver Roundtable for Public Dialogue on Gender, Labour, Innovation and International Develop to Inform Canada’s contribution to the G7 Summit in La Malbaie Quebec (October 2017)
- Developing collaborative partnerships to support UN Sustainable Development Goals for G7 and G20
SCWIST was invited to contribute at the United Nation’s 67th session of the Commission on the Status of Women including adding a recommendation to item 26 of Zero Draft of the CSW67 Agreed Conclusions:
As part of the Federal Government’s 50-30 Challenge: Your Diversity Advantage program, SCWIST was involved in consultations to provide recommendations on the PAS (Publicly Available Specifications) for the program framework, as well as recommendations on how organizations will report on their progress and key performance indicators.
The SCALE project and STEM Forward systemic change project strengthens our collaborative partnerships with STEM industry, academia, gender equality, and global organizations. Together, we advocate for informed, data-driven policies to achieve equity, diversity and inclusion in STEM. If you are interested in collaborating to advance gender equality in STEM, please contact our SCALE and STEM Forward Project Manager.