ACE Fireside Chat: Women in STEM

Speech

Speaking Points

The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, PC, MP
Minister of Science

Toronto, Ontario

September 27, 2016

Check Against Delivery


Thank you.

It is a pleasure to be here today to talk about an important issue alongside my distinguished counterpart, Premier Kathleen Wynne.

[Premier Wynne,] thank you for all you have done to support women. You are a great role model!

As a woman and a former scientist, I feel very strongly about girls pursuing studies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics—or STEM.

On top of the responsibilities the Prime Minister has given to me, I consider it part of my duty, as Canada's minister of science, to encourage young women to enter careers in these fields.

According to the Council of Canadian Academies, almost half of all undergraduate degrees awarded in science fields go to women.

These fields, traditionally dominated by men, are becoming more and more enriched by the balance that gender equality brings.

However, our numbers are still low when it comes to women in engineering.

In fact, only about one in four undergrad engineering degrees goes to women.

And the number of female students in STEM disciplines is even lower when it comes to post-graduate degrees.

There's still lots to do to achieve the balance we need in the sciences, but through perseverance, hard work and cooperation, we can get there.

Since Canadians voted for our government, we have taken action to support traditionally under-represented groups in STEM fields, notably girls and young women, but also Aboriginal youth and visible minorities.

For example, in Budget 2016 our government committed an additional $95 million in unfettered funding to the three research granting councils—the largest top-up for discovery and applied research in more than a decade.

One of the granting councils, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada [NSERC], funds ACTUA, a national charity that offers science programming to 6,000 girls annually.

I have had the pleasure of speaking to some of the young women who participate in ACTUA's programs, and I can assure you they are excited about science.

It's our job to make sure they remain excited through the rest of their education, their careers and their lives.

We can all do more to address the gender gap in the sciences.

It is a complex issue and not restricted to women alone.

The advancement of women in the sciences is a social issue and will require the efforts of all people if we are to succeed.

A critical part of the solution is, of course, dialogue, and that's why we're here today—to talk, to listen and to share.

I'm really excited to begin.

Thank you.


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