Reflecting on a Year of Impact: SCWIST’s 2023 Journey

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Reflecting on 2023

As we bid farewell to 2023, we are thrilled to present a compilation of the successes and milestones achieved throughout the past twelve months.

Ranging from groundbreaking initiatives to impactful partnerships and transformative projects, these accomplishments truly highlight the dedication and collaborative spirit of everyone at SCWIST.

Wonder Women Networking Evening: 33 Years and Counting

The Wonder Women Networking Evening (WWNE) is one of our flagship events, dedicated to fostering connections and empowering women in STEM. During the event, women in the early stages of their careers engage with accomplished “Wonder Women” mentors. The success of the 33rd WWNE was evident in the diverse mix of both veterans and new attendees joining from across Canada and beyond. This amalgamation of perspectives and backgrounds contributed to the event’s vibrant and inclusive atmosphere, solidifying WWNE as a pivotal occasion in SCWIST’s commitment to supporting and advancing women in STEM.

Attending the United Nations’ 67th Commission on the Status of Women

The 67th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW67) focused extensively on the critical role of technology and innovation in advancing UN Sustainable Development Goal #5 on gender equality. SCWIST, represented by Dr. Poh Tan and Dr. Melanie Ratnam, actively participated in briefings with the Canadian Delegation. Their contributions included advocating for increased STEM outreach initiatives and programs in collaboration with tech and science companies to address gender gaps in STEM education. The experience at CSW67 reaffirmed the significance of SCWIST’s policy and advocacy work for women and girls in STEM across Canada.

Launching a new version of MakePossible

Originally launched in 2014, MakePossible was created by SCWIST to ensure women in STEM had a safe virtual space to connect with mentors, share skills and expertise and access leadership development opportunities.

To address the ongoing need to support women in STEM through meaningful mentoring relationships, SCWIST transitioned the MakePossible mentoring community to a new platform, offering enhanced features such as online programming, member meet-ups, facilitated mentoring tables, “The Exchange” skills sharing sessions and more – to foster a vibrant, supportive online community.

The 4th annual Women in STEM Virtual Career Fair

SCWIST’s 4th annual Women in STEM Virtual Career Fair was a resounding success, drawing over 540 attendees and 14 organizations from across Canada. The day-long event featured guest speakers, exhibitor panellists and workshops offering valuable insights into employment and career growth opportunities in STEM.

Attendees participated in workshops and panels, gaining knowledge from industry leaders and organizations like NSERC, STEMCELL Technologies and others. The event also featured open networking, resulting in almost 2,000 messages sent and numerous connections made, leaving SCWIST thrilled with the outcomes and hoping for lasting professional relationships.

STEM Streams wrapped up its pilot year

STEM Streams celebrated the successful conclusion of its pilot year. Dedicated to empowering women and gender-diverse individuals in STEM, STEM Streams prioritizes accessibility and inclusivity, focusing on underrepresented groups like racialized, Indigenous, 2SLGBTQ+, and those with disabilities or prolonged detachment from the labour force.

The program offered a comprehensive learning journey, including online courses, personalized coaching, mentorship and support services. Over 1812 participants engaged in eight tailored courses that addressed the unique needs of women in STEM.

WAGE Canada’s Women’s History Month Campaign honours SCWIST President Dr. Melanie Ratnam

Dr. Melanie Ratnam was featured in Women and Gender Equality (WAGE) Canada’s Women’s History Month campaign, a celebration of women who shaped a more inclusive Canada.

Women’s History Month honours the significant contributions of women, shedding light on often-overlooked achievements and their enduring impact on society. Dr. Ratnam, a STEM trailblazer, exemplifies the essence of this month with her advocacy work for gender equality and equity in STEM.

Addressing inequalities in STEM at the 2023 Canadian Science Policy Conference

In anticipation of over 80 percent of future jobs requiring STEM knowledge, SCWIST President Dr. Melanie Ratnam moderated a panel discussion, “Bridging the Gap: Addressing Inequities in STEM for a Sustainable Future,” at the 2023 Canadian Science Policy Conference.

The panel delved into the factors contributing to inequities in STEM, emphasizing the need for policy change, innovative education strategies, and industry initiatives to bridge the access and opportunity gap in STEM careers. The panellists explored these factors and spoke on needing a multifaceted solution focused on five vital areas: Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA); Pay Equity; Education & Leadership; Childcare; and Gender-Based Violence (GBV), aiming to dismantle barriers and promote fairness, equality, and inclusivity in the STEM community.

Support continued to roll in from our members, volunteers and community partners

SCWIST is immensely grateful for the unwavering support from our members, volunteers and community partners. Their commitment and contributions play a pivotal role in advancing our mission to promote gender equality in STEM.

The active engagement of our members and volunteers bolsters the impact of our initiatives and fosters a more inclusive STEM community, while the collaborative support from our community partners further amplifies our reach, enabling us to create meaningful programs and advocate for positive change.

These relationships are fundamental to SCWIST’s success and we are thankful for their continued support as we continue to break barriers and inspire change in STEM.

Looking forward

2023 has brought SCWIST many successes, and we will close out the year with the culmination of our SCALE capacity-building project and STEM Forward initiatives, which worked to address systemic challenges within the STEM landscape.

Moving into 2024, SCWIST is excited to continue on our journey of growth and impact.

We will be expanding our programming and ensuring dedicated support for equity-deserving groups including Indigenous, Black, racialized, immigrants, 2SLGBTQ+, individuals living with disabilities and those experiencing prolonged detachment from the workplace. We will also be collaborating with STEM companies to provide support, expertise and volunteer contributions.

SCWIST will also be launching a Diversity Dashboard and IDEAS (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Sustainability) in STEM magazine, a significant step toward promoting and sustaining systemic change in STEM across Canada.

We are also poised to collaborate with national partners, collectively tackling the critical issue of gender-based violence within STEM workplaces.

2024 will be a pivotal year for SCWIST and the STEM community. Stay up to date with all the latest news and updates by following us on LinkedIn, Instagram, X and Facebook and signing up for our newsletter.

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