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International Day of Women and Girls in Science 2024: A message from Dr. Charmaine Dean

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February 7, 2024

February 11th marks the United Nation’s (UN) International Day of Women and Girls in Science and we at NSERC are happy to celebrate alongside all supporters of science and engineering. This annual event is a great occasion to celebrate women in science, past and present, and remind us that there is still opportunity for so much more growth and achievement.

According to the UN’s figures, women typically account for less than a quarter of professionals in cutting edge fields – a stunning disparity that has serious implications for our future. That gap reveals just how many voices and experiences are underrepresented in the important research and innovations that change millions of lives and determine the kind of world we get to live in, regardless of gender or identity.

The current generation of young women who are studying to be scientists and engineers are one of the world’s greatest opportunities for growth and advancement – a vast, under-utilized source of talent and skills that will drive innovations in important areas like artificial intelligence, quantum technologies, and environmental sciences.

Simply put, women are the future of science and engineering in Canada and around the world.

NSERC is proud to be one of our country’s leading supporters of girls and women in science and engineering, whether they are students just discovering their passion for research or talented experts expanding the frontiers of knowledge. Programs like the Undergraduate Student Research Awards and Collaborative Research and Training Experience have given countless young women their first experience working in a lab or on a research project, sparking a passion that has led many to continue exciting, impactful careers in research. To help encourage young women to pursue their interest in STEM fields, NSERC funds dedicated educators who provide essential programming through PromoScience grants, and champions women in research through the Chairs for Women in Science and Engineering and the Chairs for Inclusion in Science and Engineering. This work is part of a broader effort at NSERC to ensure that more diverse perspectives are engaged in science and engineering, including, but not limited to, those from women, Indigenous Peoples (First Nations, Inuit and Métis), persons with disabilities, members of visible minorities/racialized groups and members of 2SLGBTQI+ communities.

We continuously look for ways to improve NSERC’s support for women in science and engineering by engaging with our community and adapting our programs to make it easier for girls and women to say ‘yes’ to a career in research. On this International Day of Women and Girls in Science, please join all of us at NSERC in celebrating Canada’s talented women in science and engineering, and encouraging the generation of girls who will help us fill the gap that is holding us back.

Dr. Charmaine B. Dean is Vice-President and Chair of NSERC Council and Vice-President, Research and International at the University of Waterloo.

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