Written by: Ashley van der Pouw Kraan
Donating to SCWIST is a powerful way to express your values and continue your support for STEM — now, and for future generations of STEM leaders.
In the spring of 1981, six women gathered on the flower-covered porch of a Vancouver house to plan a conference for women in science. It was here that the “undaunted six” — Mary Vickers, Hilda Lei Ching Quan, Abby Schwarz, Mary Jo Duncan, Diana Herbst and Maggie Benston — mapped out the plans that would eventually bring SCWIST to life.
“The scent of large white clematis filled the air as we sat and made our plans on the front porch,” recalled Hilda fondly.
By July of that same year, SCWIST was incorporated as a society.
“We presented eight public programs and started the first Registry of Women in Science in BC and Yukon,” said Mary Vickers, SCWIST’s founding president. “Our programs received positive responses that convinced us of the need for an organization like SCWIST. For example, we had a packed room when we held a panel discussion on the question, ‘Can a talented female scientist from a small town in the West find happiness and a permanent job in a scientific establishment?’“
An ongoing legacy
Now, in 2021, two of the “undaunted six” founding members recently reached out with generous donations in celebration of our 40th anniversary.
Diana Herbst, SCWIST president from 1987 to 1988, gave first, “in honour of Hilda Lei Ching Quan.” In turn, Hilda Lei Ching Quan, SCWIST president from 1984 to 1986, reached out with her own donation through the Quan Family Foundation held at the Vancouver Foundation.
“It is absolutely amazing and so generous. That the founders would choose to give back to SCWIST after 40 years – it is a true legacy!” said Cheryl Kristiansen, SCWIST’s Make DIVERSITY Possible & SCALE Project Manager.
“Without them, we wouldn’t be here,” adds Maria Gyöngyössy-Issa, SCWIST’s Director of Finance. “They still guide us, participate in SCWIST events and look after us. They are our SCWIST-Moms! If you ever have the good fortune to meet them in person, you’ll know that they are still wild women who shine and inspire us all!”
40 Years of STEM Impact
For 40 years, our founders have broken ground, shattered ceilings and moved mountains, creating a space for women in science and technology where previously there was none. We are so thankful for their lifelong dedication and support.