Photographer Heike Delmore documents Kushboo Patel in action at Valiant Machine and Tool in Windsor, Ont., as part of a photo campaign to show women working in STEM and the trades.
Dora Strelkova has always been interested in how things work. Her dad, who she describes as a jack-of-all-trades, often built things in his home workshop and taught her how to use tools such as a power saw. But when Ms. Strelkova joined her schools robotics team in Grade 9, she felt intimidated as one of only three girls on a team of 15.
I went to the first meeting and they were using all these technical terms and terminologies and tools, Ms. Strelkova says. They were working on their robot already. I had no idea what they were doing. I was so intimidated. I stopped going to meetings.
A few months later, at a job fair held at her Windsor, Ont., high school, Ms. Strelkova won a raffle prize to attend a week-long summer camp through the Windsor-based non-profit Build a Dream. The camp was meant for young girls to learn more about skilled trades.
Story continues below advertisement
I was introduced to an electrician and we wired a home circuit with a switch and a lightbulb, Ms. Strelkova recalls. The camp piqued Strelkovas interest in hands-on activities. In Grade 10, she rejoined the robotics team and went on to become a team leader in Grade 12. Now, shes in her fourth year studying electrical engineering at the University of Windsor.
I think a lot of girls still grow up thinking that STEM-related or engineering fields arent meant for women, which is a completely false narrative that we need to rewrite, she says.
Exposure to career pathways is an important factor in helping young women see engineering as a viable option, says Nour Hachem-Fawaz, president and founder of Build a Dream. This national non-profit organization, founded in 2014 and backed by industry sponsors including EllisDon, Enbridge, Spark Power, Valiant TMS and Magna International, was created to advance diversity and inclusion initiatives and encourage female students to explore careers where women are under-represented.
In Canada, engineering is one industry where women lag far behind in representation. According to national organization Engineers Canada, women made up only 14.2 per cent of total national membership in 2020.
Dora Strelkova, an electrical engineering student at the University of Windsor, uses a 3D printer as part of a photo shoot for Build a Dream at Valiant Machine and Tool.
For many Build a Dream events, Ms. Hachem-Fawaz says her team engages both parents and their daughters to learn about career paths in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and the trades. They educate parents about the high demand for STEM and trades professionals and the prospects for financial gain through these career paths. When speaking to students, the approach changes, she says.
[Young women] often say I want to help people, she explains. We highlight how career pathways in STEM and skilled trades help build, create and design communities.
For example, they might explain how civil engineers design hospitals to ensure they are safe and accessible for the public.
Story continues below advertisement
When you position it that way, an aha moment happens and theyre like, Okay, now I can see how thats going to make an impact.
At the University of Alberta, Ania Ulrich, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and the facultys first female department chair, helped develop Fem+, a seven-month mentorship program for high school students of under-represented genders.
Whats been key about this program is it uses the model of near-peer mentorship, Ms. Ulrich says. As opposed to somebody middle-aged, like me, going into the classroom, we get undergraduate female engineering students who are currently in the program to pair up one-to-one with these students.
Ms. Ulrich says the group focuses on building relationships and creating meaningful connections rather than hosting competitions, which can be a very male-centric way of approaching things. Program participants have gone on field trips to the observatory, learned about a group building wildfire-identifying satellites and talked with engineering professors and working professionals.
The effectiveness of Fem+ was clear after its first cohort of 30 students completed the program in 2018, says Ms. Ulrich. (Theyve since expanded to 60 high school students.)
In our first year, 89 per cent of the [high school] students [who participated] came to our engineering program, she says. The remainder went to other STEM programs, like the sciences or computer science. Weve had really high success.
Story continues below advertisement
While Build a Dream and Fem+ focus on high school-aged students, others in the industry are introducing careers in STEM to girls at an even younger age. For example, Komal Singh, a Google engineering program manager based in Waterloo, Ont., has written two childrens books: Ara the Star Engineer and Ara the Dream Innovator, to get more young girls interested in STEM. Since first being published in 2018, Ara the Star Engineer has been translated into ten languages.
Industry and societal stereotypes also play a role in how young women and their parents view careers in the trades and STEM, Ms. Hachem-Fawaz says. Thats why Build A Dream hosted a series of photo shoots with women at job sites this past summer and fall.
We were struggling to find stock images of women in the industry that werent staged or filled with makeup, she says. As opposed to showing them carrying a tool bag, why dont we show them working with those tools in action?
The photos capture women working in construction, automotive engineering, manufacturing, millwork and more. The images from the shoots are available to the public and Ms. Hachem-Fawaz hopes that companies, industry magazines and publications will make use of them.
The more young women see themselves reflected in these kinds of images, the more likely they will be to dream about a future in STEM and the trades, she says.
Its about a societal shift, she says.
Story continues below advertisement
Interested in more perspectives about women in the workplace? Find all stories on the hub here, and subscribe to the new Women and Work newsletter here. Have feedback on the series? Email us at GWC@globeandmail.com.
- February Engineering Activity: Properties of Materials Additives - All Together - Society of Women Engineers - January 22nd, 2022
- Former UA engineering professor Simon Ang pleads guilty to lying to FBI agent about patents in China - Arkansas Times - January 22nd, 2022
- Delhi court denies anticipatory bail to engineering student in GitHub case: His conduct an affront to secularism - The Indian Express - January 22nd, 2022
- Adaptable and future-ready, engineers at Michigan Tech are always geared for the future - Study International News - January 22nd, 2022
- Assistant Professor/Associate Professor/Full Professor in Mechanical Engineering job with UNIVERSITY OF NOTTINGHAM NINGBO CHINA | 278611 - Times... - January 22nd, 2022
- Lima Senior High School Audio Engineering and Technology program in its first year and doing well - Your News Now - January 22nd, 2022
- Different Types of Engineering: Salary and Job Outlook |SNHU - January 20th, 2022
- Innovative engineering program at Carroll High School offers students 'the best chance at whatever is next in life for them' - My catholic standard - January 20th, 2022
- Engineering firm will close NE Portland factory, lay off up to 40 - OregonLive - January 20th, 2022
- SEEQC Announces Addition of Scientific Advisory Board, Vice President of Engineering and Unveils New Brand Identity - Business Wire - January 20th, 2022
- TOPTAL LAUNCHES NEW E-BOOK AIMED AT HELPING ENGINEERING LEADERS NAVIGATE THE CHALLENGES OF BUILDING, SCALING THEIR TEAMS - PRNewswire - January 20th, 2022
- Social Engineering in the News: SMiShing - Security Boulevard - January 20th, 2022
- Army Corps of Engineers Rock Island District to get $1.2 billion for Upper Mississippi River valley - WHBF - OurQuadCities.com - January 20th, 2022
- Fort Worth's Panther Island project gets $403 million from Army Corps of Engineers - WFAA.com - January 20th, 2022
- Wellfield Technologies to Expand its Engineering Development Capacity for Seamless Brand with a new Hub in Portugal - Yahoo Finance - January 20th, 2022
- PhD Studentship, Civil, Maritime and Environmental Engineering job with UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHAMPTON | 278270 - Times Higher Education (THE) - January 20th, 2022
- Glitch Your Way To Reverse-Engineering Glory With The PicoEMP - Hackaday - January 16th, 2022
- Women and Minorities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Fields Grant Program (WAMS) | National Institute of Food and Agriculture -... - January 16th, 2022
- Does Shapir Engineering and Industry (TLV:SPEN) Have A Healthy Balance Sheet? - Simply Wall St - January 16th, 2022
- General Engineer Job in Fort Bliss, Texas - Department of the Army - LemonWire - January 16th, 2022
- Drexel University, School of Biomedical Engineering: Where biomedical engineering and business experts are made - Study International News - January 16th, 2022
- Improvement of Energy and Production Efficiency and Rapid Advancements in Protein Engineering to Support Revenue Growth of Industrial Enzymes Market:... - January 16th, 2022
- I Was an Engineer at a Major Automaker. Here's the Dark Side of the Job - The Drive - January 16th, 2022
- Global Precision Engineering Machines Market Forecast to Reach USD 19.27 Billion by 2028 - ResearchAndMarkets.com - Business Wire - December 22nd, 2021
- James Webb Space Telescope: The engineering behind a 'first light machine' that is not allowed to fail - Space.com - December 22nd, 2021
- Diesel Engines Move Goods Around the Globe; UVA Engineers Work to Curb Emissions - University of Virginia - December 22nd, 2021
- 2021's news highlights from the Faculty of Science and Engineering - The University of Manchester - December 22nd, 2021
- Learning science and engineering gets more effective, accessible, and fun with this portable teaching box! - Yanko Design - December 22nd, 2021
- Research Engineer job with KHALIFA UNIVERSITY | 275757 - Times Higher Education (THE) - December 22nd, 2021
- Data Curation and Governance are the Top-Two Data Engineering Challenges for 2022 - Solutions Review - December 22nd, 2021
- Engineering and IT jobseekers connect with employers at career fair - Chicago Daily Herald - December 22nd, 2021
- PhD Studentship, Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering job with UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHAMPTON | 275929 - Times Higher Education (THE) - December 22nd, 2021
- Tax issue and pandemic delay liquidation process of UB Engineering - Deccan Herald - December 22nd, 2021
- Lecturer, Engineering and Computing Education job with UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE | 275515 - Times Higher Education (THE) - December 20th, 2021
- Research Fellow, School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering job with QUEENS UNIVERSITY BELFAST | 275496 - Times Higher Education (THE) - December 20th, 2021
- YouTuber engineer unleashes new glitter bombs on package thieves - fox5sandiego.com - December 20th, 2021
- Ask the Engineers: 'What is the best way to gain skills in an alternative discipline?' - Professional Engineering - December 20th, 2021
- Professor Barry Webb AM awarded honorary Doctor of Engineering - News - The University of Sydney - December 20th, 2021
- Zain strategic partner of 40th Engineering Design Exhibition - Kuwait Times - December 20th, 2021
- INEOS and Petroineos at Grangemouth partner with Plastic Energy - Hydrocarbon Engineering - December 20th, 2021
- Paul Sheerin: Engineers remain well placed to weather the storm - HeraldScotland - December 20th, 2021
- Commins hails strong driver/engineer relationship with Kostecki - Speedcafe - December 20th, 2021
- Death of engineer and Ipswich company boss Ron Gosling - Ipswich Star - December 20th, 2021
- Clarivate, the Chinese Academy of Engineering and the Higher Education Press of China Release Annual Joint Report to Identify 186 Engineering Fronts -... - December 14th, 2021
- Freak of Nature Clarkson Graduate Named National Engineering Association's Young Professional of the Year - Clarkson University News - December 14th, 2021
- Engineering group unlocks the creativity of University Technology Office minds with automation - ASU Now - December 14th, 2021
- Codex aims to enable engineers to collaborate within an IDE - VentureBeat - December 14th, 2021
- Penn Engineering Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Dedicates New Suite to Foundational Figures - UPENN Almanac - December 14th, 2021
- Renovation/Restoration, Award of Merit: The National - Engineering News-Record - December 14th, 2021
- Engineering alumnus Forehand offers sage advice to Auburn graduates during fall commencement speech - Office of Communications and Marketing - December 14th, 2021
- Trine inducts 10 into Order of the Engineer | Heraldrepublican | kpcnews.com - KPCnews.com - December 14th, 2021
- Tenured/Tenure-Track Faculty Positions at Northeastern University College of Engineering job with Northeastern University | 421222 - The Chronicle of... - December 14th, 2021
- The kind of engineering education we need - The Indian Express - December 14th, 2021
- $1.5M study to explore human-centered engineering instruction | The University Record - The University Record - December 14th, 2021
- UM creates first robotics department among top 10 engineering schools | The University Record - The University Record - December 14th, 2021
- Swerving prevention method prompts new patent for USF engineers - University of South Florida - December 3rd, 2021
- American Society of Mechanical Engineers and Discovery Education Partner to Unlock Student Success Through Engineering - Yahoo Finance - December 3rd, 2021
- Engineer's bat-inspired artificial brain could improve submarine navigation - The Hub at Johns Hopkins - December 3rd, 2021
- Engineers: Transforming lives and inspiring communities - The Irish Times - December 3rd, 2021
- Launching the Future of Biomedical Engineering Education - Ole Miss News - December 3rd, 2021
- Accenture Acquires Headspring to Expand and Enhance Cloud First Platform Engineering Capabilities - Business Wire - December 3rd, 2021
- Engineering's Singh recognized for teaching beyond the classroom - Office of Communications and Marketing - December 2nd, 2021
- Engineering team honored in water systems challenge - The Source - Washington University in St. Louis - Washington University in St. Louis Newsroom - December 2nd, 2021
- Accenture Acquires Headspring to Expand and Enhance Cloud First Platform Engineering Capabilities - Yahoo Finance - December 2nd, 2021
- Danfoss Turbocor announces multiyear collaboration with FAMU-FSU College of Engineering - Florida State News - December 2nd, 2021
- Student explores the broad engineering workforce with co-ops and internships - Virginia Tech Daily - December 2nd, 2021
- 6 fast facts on the current biomedical engineering workforce - Becker's Hospital Review - December 2nd, 2021
- Skills and responsibilities in a QA engineer role - TechTarget - December 2nd, 2021
- OverIT completes the Spin-Off from the Engineering Group by Bain Capital and NB Renaissance and announces Nicola Cattarossi as new CFO - Yahoo Finance - December 2nd, 2021
- Broadway announces three top promotions: CTO, VP of Engineering, and CIO - FinanceFeeds - December 2nd, 2021
- The Technology Shaping the Future: 5 engineering predictions for the years ahead - Professional Engineering - December 2nd, 2021
- The Engineering of Glass Will Leave You Astonished - Interesting Engineering - December 2nd, 2021
- An Airbus A340 Landed in Antarctica for the First Time Ever - Interesting Engineering - December 2nd, 2021
- 20-year-old engineering student from Kerala becomes inspiration for other girls - The New Indian Express - December 2nd, 2021
- Digital Engineering Spend to account for more than 50% of the overall Global Engineering R&D Spend and will grow rapidly at 19% to exceed USD 1 Tn by... - November 17th, 2021
- Rackspace Technology Helps Organizations Maximize VMware Investments with Rackspace Elastic Engineering for VMware - Yahoo Finance - November 17th, 2021
- Engineering alumna wins New York Emmy as host of youth program 'I Can Be What?' - RIT University News Services - November 17th, 2021
- ORITE to host meeting with Ohio county engineers, other transportation leaders - Ohio University - November 17th, 2021
- ICC and Define Tech Add Engineering Solutions to Their Suite of Turnkey Clusters - HPCwire - November 17th, 2021
- SWARM Engineering and Virginia Tech Collaborate to Solve Problems in the Agri-Food Supply Chain - Yahoo Finance - November 17th, 2021