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B.C. invests in STEM initiatives for women

JOC News Service
B.C. invests in STEM initiatives for women

VICTORIA — B.C. is betting that the future is female.

The Government of British Columbia is giving a $250,000 grant to the Achieve Anything Foundation to encourage women to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Achieve Anything is a Langley, B.C.-based foundation dedicated to establishing year-round programs to interest girls and women in careers in aviation, aerospace, marine and defence, which are sectors with low female representation.

“Our government is committed to supporting innovation, and that means making sure that we aren’t missing out on the talent and skills women can bring STEM disciplines. This funding supports young women to train for good-paying 21st-century jobs, and to become the leaders and drivers of a strong, sustainable economy that builds the best B.C. for everyone,” said B.C. Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training Melanie Mark in a statement.

The foundation’s two key events are The Sky’s No Limit — Girls Fly Too! which encourages families to learn aviation, aerospace, marine and defence though hands-on displays, activities and free flights for first time female fliers, and Operation: This is You! which partners with the Vancouver Police Department, Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services, the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Coast Guard to offer hands-on experience events.

“Since 2012, more than 67,600 people have participated in our events, and 9,172 girls and women have enjoyed a free first-flight experience. Our programs employ a unique hands-on approach toward inspiring girls and women to pursue STEM-based fields,” Achieve Anything Foundation president Kirsten Brazier said.

In 2015-16, women represented 54 per cent of B.C.’s post-secondary students but only 37 per cent of STEM-program credentials were issued to women.

Though women make up over half of B.C.’s workforce, only 10 per cent of B.C. women with post-secondary education have STEM-related degrees or certifications compared to 25 per cent for men, and only 5.5 percent of B.C. women have post-secondary education related to STEM, compared to 13.9 per cent of men.

“We all benefit when women and girls are empowered to follow their dreams. Encouraging gender equity in the tech fields of science, technology, engineering and math will have a lasting, positive impact on B.C.’s economy, as well as our society,” said parliamentary secretary for gender equity Mitzi Dean.

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