In my more than thirty years of experience as a scientist, I have received comments and questions about “women scientists”. I remember being a graduate student and someone commenting how “brave it is for a women to drive a truck full of soil across the Prairies” and “how brave it is for a women to work in a laboratory”. How odd, I thought, that nobody ever commented how brave my male peers were!
As my science career progressed, some women started to come to my office to ask for advice about their career path. A question that is relatively common is how to combine family life with a science career. It is a question that women ask much more often than men.
It is important to support women and men in their career paths and that includes strengthening maternity and parental leave policies. The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) is making great strides in this regard, and in its adoption of strategies that promote equity, diversity and inclusion in science and engineering programs and professions.
Video 1. In this video project, we first took to the street and interviewed people about “what is a scientist?” and some of the answers may (or may not) surprise you. We then took some photos of scientists and incorporated that in the same video. We hope that you will enjoy watching the final result and feel inspired about Canada’s current and future scientists and engineers.
Videos 2 to 5. We selected to interview five students to talk about their identity and dreams and goals as they progressed in their science careers. Each student, like all of us, has a unique set of experiences during their programs of study, but all share in common their passion for science research and ability to adapt to change. For those that are thinking of entering undergraduate and graduate programs in science, we hope that you will recognize yourself in some or all of the students and that their stories and journeys inspire you to enrol. For those of you who are in science careers already, and serve as mentors to students, we hope that these videos will help you in lending your support to students so they can successfully develop as the next generations of Canadian scientists.
Annemieke Farenhorst, Ph.D., P.Ag.
Professor of Soil Science
Prairie NSERC Chair for Women in Science and Engineering