House of Women Scientists (HoWS)
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.
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.
"I just want other indigenous students who are still in school to know that there are other people facing similar struggles."
Taylor Morriseau graduated with a B.Sc. degree with Double Honours in Microbiology and Genetics. She is pursuing a M.Sc. degree in the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics. Her research focuses on explaining the mechanisms of youth-onset Type 2 diabetes in Oji-Cree youth.
Taylor is a proud member of Peguis First Nation. In the video, Taylor speaks about her identity, her experiences as a university student and finding her passion for research.
We are proud to feature Taylor in this video. She has received numerous awards for her academic excellence and outstanding achievements.
She is a trailblazer and role model to us all.
Amarawansha Eragoda Arachchilage (Geethani)
"When I realized I was pregnant I was a bit scared because I was still doing my research."
Geethani Amarawansha Eragoda Arachchilage was born in Sri Lanka and moved to Canada to pursue her graduate studies. She completed her M.Sc. degree in 2013 and is now pursuing her Ph.D. Geethanie holds a NSERC Postgraduate Scholarships-Doctoral (PGS D). Her research is focused on drinking water distribution systems in First Nations communities.
In the video, Geethanie speaks about what it felt like to move to a new country and about “what to expect when you’re expecting” as a graduate student.
We are proud to feature Geethanie in this video. She shows us how to achieve a work-life balance while pursuing your life-long passion for science research.
"Even though it's just a summer job, it has been so much more than that because it has opened my eyes to the women who are doing this research "
Anita Murdock is pursuing her B.Sc. She is from Long Plain First Nation and also has roots in Fisher River Cree Nation. Anita is a NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award winner.
In the video, Anita speaks about her First Nation identity and the importance of family in her life. She also speaks to finding her passion for microbiology and what it felt like to connect to others who share her passion for research on water quality.
We are proud to feature Anita in this video. It shows us that it may take some time to find your way, but that the path you are on will lead to fulfillment and confidence.
Sirajum Munira (Rumi) & Marufa Fatema
"My mom and dad wanted me to be the first family member with a doctorate."
Sirajum Munira (Rumi) and Marufa Fatima were born in Bangladesh and both are passionate about their research on pesticides in soil and water. Sirajum completed both her B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Bangladesh and then moved to Canada to pursue her Ph.D. Marufa earned a B.Sc. in Bangladesh and then moved to Germany to complete her M.Sc. In 2017, she accepted a Ph.D. position in Canada.
In the video, Sirajum and Marufa speak about their identity as Muslim women and how they feel as newcomers to Canada. Marufa also speaks about what it felt like to start her graduate studies abroad, while her husband and young daughter could not join her until much later.
We are proud to feature Sirajum and Marufa in this video. It shows us that courage is needed to succeed and that you too can do it.