(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

High-profile Port Alberni murders are the centre of new true crime book

Retired journalist Shayne Morrow pairs historic murders with the science that solved them

Canadiana complete when Murray McLauchlan’s in the house

Legendary singer/songwriter brings his folksy talents to the McPherson on June 13

So, they found ‘Dave from Vancouver Island’

Dave Tryon, now 72, will reunite with long-ago travelling friends in Monterey, Calif.

COLUMN: Motoring along sure to be different with changes to cars, infrastructure

Younger generation seems intent on creating a more efficient planet

Vancouver Islander pens Mourning Has Broken following death of her daughter

Book by radio host Erin Davis gives advice to others struggling with grief

VIDEO: Protesters in Penticton gather to rally against sleeping-on-sidewalk bylaw

The proposed bylaw would outlaw sitting or lying on the city’s downtown sidewalks

Kamloops girl, 9, recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning now out of ICU

Her mother who was sleeping in the same tent with her did not survive

‘I think he’s still alive’: B.C. mom pleads for help finding son last seen a month ago

Family offering $5,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of Tim Delahaye

New poll suggests one-third don’t want politicians to wear religious symbols

Local politicians shouldn’t be allowed to wear hijabs, crucifixes or turbans on the job, survey suggests

Raptors fans far from home adjust plans to watch pivotal playoff game

Raptors currently lead the playoff series 3-2, and a win Saturday would vault them into NBA finals

PHOTOS: First responders in Fernie rescue baby owl who fell from nest

The baby owl’s inability to fly back to its nest prompted a rescue by first responders

Five takeaways from the Court of Appeal ruling on B.C.’s pipeline law

It’s unclear how many tools are left in B.C.’s toolbox to fight the project

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve investigating after sea lion found shot in the head

Animal is believed to have been killed somewhere between Ucluelet and Tofino

Most Read