2018 Women in Engineering Empowerment Essay – Isabel Hazan

Upon diving into the dimensional field of mathematics and engineering and discovering how bright, tenacious and enthusiastic my female classmates were, it became my mission to break into the untapped potential of women in STEM.

As society has advanced over the past few decades, one area we still struggle with immensely is the representation and retention of females in STEM fields. The simple truth is this: the entire world cannot move forward when half of us are being held back. By fostering an environment of comfort, excitement and engagement surrounding these subjects, females will be drawn to STEM organically – shedding the layers of fear, intimidation and impostor syndrome which can seep into their perception of their place within STEM.

When I was in high school, I was severely underexposed to the opportunities for women in STEM, driving me to create my own club – Girls for Girls – a safe space for girls to discuss their goals, aspirations and how we can create roadmaps to achieving them – specifically in STEM. By adopting this mentorship role for female students in my high school, I became increasingly invested in exposing opportunities for females to have a major impact on the world if they remained focused on their STEM studies. Most recently, I spoke at an event at Google Canada, inspiring grade 9 female students to pursue career paths in STEM. From the experience, I realized these girls felt comfortable sharing their STEM aspirations with me because they knew they were an environment where it was safe – and even encouraged – to do so. Tactical activities including highlighting female innovators from the past, conducting presentations on engineering and design thinking, and leading STEM-related workshops were take-aways I intend to apply to similar events in the future.

Thus, I believe that to optimally encourage young girls to get involved in STEM, it is our responsibility to unite them as a community and show them the power we are as a single unit. It’s easy to feel isolated as an underrepresented group in any circumstance. However, when we can concentrate our potential into areas, events, groups, and communities brimming with like-minded students chasing inspiring goals, we can empower them to push past barriers and stay true to their own missions.

To truly move the needle in getting female youth into STEM, we must focus on creating events which challenge the norms of society and expose the potential for them to break into these fields. Congregating students at events stationed at companies hungry for female STEM students, encouraging students to discuss their goals with other girls and brainstorming ways we can make an impact – this united empowerment leads to major breakthroughs in these fields. It is only once we can lift each other up and pursue progress as a powerhouse of like-minded young women that we can break stigmas, harness our untapped potential and carve out our impact on the world. It is up to us to stand together, pursue progress and empower our youth.