Girls and women will be encouraged to pursue careers rooted in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), with the help of a $250,000 grant from the Government of British Columbia to the Achieve Anything Foundation.
Females are under-represented in STEM-based areas of study and in careers, such as aviation, aerospace, marine and defence. The Langley-based foundation is dedicated to establishing year-round programs that spark interest for girls and women in those disciplines.
“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,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. “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.”
In 2015-16, women represented 53% of B.C.’s post-secondary students, but only 37% of STEM-program credentials were issued to women.
“We all benefit when women and girls are empowered to follow their dreams,” said Mitzi Dean, Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity. “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.”
The foundation’s signature event is the annual The Sky’s No Limit – Girls Fly Too!, in which families are invited to learn about aviation, aerospace, marine and defence through hands-on displays and activities, including free flights for female first-time fliers.
The Achieve Anything Foundation also co-ordinates Operation: This is You!, which partners with Vancouver Fire & Rescue Services, the Vancouver Police Department, the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Coast Guard and other agencies 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,” said Kirsten Brazier, Achieve Anything Foundation president. “Our programs employ a unique hands-on approach toward inspiring girls and women to pursue STEM-based fields, such as aviation, aerospace, marine and defence.”
Premier John Horgan set the tone for gender equality in B.C. by appointing 11 women to his 22-member cabinet — the Province’s first gender-equal cabinet.
- Just 5.5% of B.C. women have post-secondary education in STEM fields, compared to 13.9% of men.
- Only 10% of B.C. women with post-secondary education hold STEM-related degrees or certifications, compared to 25% for men.
- B.C. has more than one million women working — the most women working in B.C.’s history, and nearly half of the current provincial labour force.
- With the addition of over 900,000 job openings expected in the province by 2027, women will play an increasingly important role in keeping B.C.’s economy diverse, strong and growing.
- Women comprised 38% of all self-employed people in B.C. in 2017, ranking B.C third among all provinces, and above the national average of 37%.
- The B.C. government’s child-care fee reductions of up to $350 per month will help parents, especially women, build families while pursuing their careers.