Grade 9 students got the chance to job shadow women working in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) at The Alberta Science Network (ASN) annual Operation Minerva Conference on May 2nd.
“The neat thing is that they can go somewhere they may have never even heard of or would be interested in,” said Sabrina Lynn, program coordinator for the Central Alberta branch of the Alberta Science Network.
She added that the students then have the opportunity to consider new careers that may interest them.
Kyah Poitra from Lindsay Thurber got to shadow an engineer for the morning.
“I didn’t realize how many different kinds of engineers there are, it was really cool,” she said.
Students were selected from schools around Red Deer based on the number of science classes at the school. Teachers selected students that showed an interest in the field or were interested in exploring career options.
“I don’t really know what I want to be when I’m older, but this gave me a lot more options,” said Poitra.
The engineer she shadowed brought in many engineers from other branches to introduce the students to the full spectrum of disciplines available within the field.
“I’m way more interested now, knowing what it is—I would never have thought of (pursuing a career in) science, I just thought you can be a scientist and that’s it,” Poitra said.
Following the job shadowing opportunities in the morning the students came back to Lindsay Thurber to do workshops and get to know other girls interested in STEM industries.
The Alberta Science Network is a non-profit organization that brings volunteer scientists and engineers into schools to do curriculum-based presentations.
There has been a big push over the last decade to encourage young women to enter these historically male-dominated industries.
Since 1988, over 8,000 girls have participated in Operation Minerva events held across the province: in Red Deer, Calgary, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Fort. McMurray and Peace River.