On Thursday, November 3, 2016, a research team led by Dr. Tamara Franz-Odendaal, professor and Atlantic Chair for Women in Science and Engineering (WISEatlantic) at Mount Saint Vincent University will release part two of their findings from a recent study on youth perspectives on careers in sciences, technology, engineering and math.

A large gender gap still exists within STEM careers in Canada. According to the latest Statistics Canada report (June 2013), women make up 48 per cent of the Canadian labour force, yet under a quarter have an occupation in the natural or applied sciences. Engineers Nova Scotia reports that the number of female engineers in the province stands at only 12.2 per cent, just below the national average of 13.1 per cent. The Mount researchers behind the Youth Perspectives on STEM Education, Career Choices, and Influencers in Atlantic Canada research study, sought to identify some of the factors contributing to these statistics towards improving them.

Researchers surveyed close to 1,450 students in grades 7 and 9 from all four Atlantic Provinces, toward better understanding youth engagement in math and science outside of school, their career interests, what influences their career decisions, and the likelihood that they would consider a STEM career in the future. The data showed that students who reported being influenced by STEM role models were 3.5 times more likely to seriously consider a STEM career.

“Our findings help us understand who/what is influencing youth when they are grappling with their career decisions and how,” says Dr. Franz-Odendaal. “We’ve found that family members, teachers, and non-STEM role models (such as athletes, actors/actresses etc) are major influencers. However, we also found that participation in STEM activities and meeting individuals working in STEM significantly increases the likelihood that students will choose a STEM career. This shows great potential for programs such as WISEatlantic.”

Media are invited to attend an event at which these findings will be presented:
Thursday, November 3, 5:30-7 p.m.
Margaret Norrie McCain Centre, Room 302
Mount Saint Vincent University, 166 Bedford Highway

For more information contact:
Sally Marchand
Program Coordinator
Women in Science and Engineering, Atlantic Region (WISEatlantic)
Phone: (902) 457-6294
Email: WISEatlantic@msvu.ca