(Black Press Media files)

50% of Canadians can’t name a female scientist or engineer: poll

Roughly 82 per cent of those surveyed said they picture a man when imagining a computer scientist

When you think of the world’s greatest scientists, who do you think of? Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin or maybe Charles Darwin?

What about Marie Curie, the first woman to win a Nobel Prize in 1903 for her discovery of two elements through radioactivity? Or Rosalin Franklin, whose work led to James Watson and Francis Crick’s understanding of DNA?

According to a new report by international non-profit group Girls Who Code, one in two Canadians cannot name a single female scientist or engineer.

In fact, 82 per cent of Canadians surveyed said they picture a man when they imagine a computer scientist.

The report, released on Friday to mark International Women’s Day, underscores how much work is still to be done in encouraging young girls to pursue their interests in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, also known as STEM.

“What this data really shows is that women have a lingering crisis of confidence when it comes to their abilities in computing, and that it started in early childhood,” said Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code.

“Men were nearly twice as likely to dream of becoming a computer scientist when they were a kid. In fact, boys were more likely to even understand what computer science was – 39 per cent compared to 26 per cent of girls – and that means somewhere along the way, we started teaching our boys about computer science, but not our girls.”

READ MORE: Young girls fight STEM stigma with hackathon

READ MORE: Woman’s foundation gets B.C. boost to help girls and women

Roughly 42 per cent of female respondents said they believe it’s easier for men to break into the industry – a notion that 31 per cent of men agreed with.

According to the report, the perception of who has an easier chance of being successful in STEM-related work starts young. A mere nine per cent of women said they had dreamed of being a computer scientist when they were a child, compared to 17 per cent of men.

Girls Who Code, which launched in Canada in November, hosts 30 after-school clubs that are free for girls ages 13 to 18 interested in learning about computers and programming.

Chief information officer Katherin Wetmur said it’s programs like these that break through barriers hindering girls from being exposed to coding.

“We’ve made strides in the technology sector toward closing the gender gap, but there is still a great deal of work to do,” she said.

READ MORE: BC Tech Summit to dedicate a day to future of women

Other women who have pioneered scientific discoveries

In honour of International Women’s Day, and for those who are also unable to think of a female scientist or engineer, here’s a few who have made some of the biggest impacts in our understanding of the world.

Jane Goodall

Renowned for her work with chimpanzees and a champion of animal rights

Sally Ride and Roberta Bondar

The first American woman in space in 1983, and the Canadian woman in 1992

Vera Rubin

Proved that dark matter existed in the universe

Ada Lovelace

An English mathematician who wrote one of the very first computer programs

Gertrude Elion

A biochemist and pharmacologist who developed the first drugs to treat leukemia

Tiera Guinn

Currently helping NASA (in her 20s) to build one of the biggest rockets ever made

For more famous female scientists, click here.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Greater Victoria Harbour Authority to fall fake eagle tree at Ogden Point

Last year a fake tree was installed to try to entice eagles to stay in the area, without much success

Ambitious B.C. Aviation Museum need $10M to get iconic Lancaster back in the air

Volunteers flock to work on bomber, restoration expected to take 10 years

Saanich to potentially host first hydrogen fuel station on Vancouver Island

Station proposed for corner of Quadra Street and McKenzie Avenue

Three children to run Victoria as ‘Mayors’ on Tuesday

Local kids will be honorary mayors for a day

Langford man sentenced to 15 months for child pornography collection

Andre Mollon sentenced for posession of more than 1,000 child pornography images and 70 videos

Victoria hosts ‘Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave’

The hockey cave was recently featured on a Netflix special

Inspirational Vancouver Island youngster dies after battle with brain cancer

Kaiden Finley ‘was seriously the strongest 11-year-old’

Is it a homicide? B.C. woman dies in hospital, seven months after being shot

Stepfather think Chilliwack case should now be a homicide, but IHIT has not confirmed anything

Indecent caller handed 18-month conditional sentence

Vancouver Island man pleaded guilty to making indecent phone and video calls to women across B.C.

Sources say Trudeau rejected Wilson-Raybould’s conservative pick for high court

Wilson-Raybould said Monday “there was no conflict between the PM and myself”

First Nations public art piece stolen in Nanaimo

Spindle Whorl went missing over the weekend, according to Nanaimo RCMP

Father-son duo at B.C. Children’s Hospital helps new dads fight depression

The pair teamed up to introduce the only known research-based mindfulness workshop for new dads

Mexican restaurant in B.C. told to take down Mexican flag

General manager of Primo’s Mexican Grill in White Rock: ‘I’ve never heard of anything like this’

B.C. NDP moves to provide tax credits, tax cut for LNG Canada

Provincial sales tax break of $596 million repayable after construction

Most Read