The Women of Applied Research and Innovation Services (WARIS) held their first event in a series dedicated to facilitating female involvement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and the trades, on March 23.
The mentorship series is one of the 100 projects taking place in 2016 to celebrate SAIT’s centennial.
Approximately 50 people were in attendance to hear representatives from SAIT’s Women in Technology and Trades (WITT) committee, the SAIT Students’ Association, Ladies Learning Code, Chic Geek, and the University of Calgary’s Women in Science and Engineering (WISE).
Sherry Yang, software developer and principal investigator for ARIS’s Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Application Development Lab (RADLab), said she was impressed by the diversity of the attendees.
“I was surprised to see people from the [MacPhail] School of Energy and a lot of instructors showed up, too,” said Yang. “I was really happy to see them there, showing a supportive force.”
The speakers and guests were welcomed by Dr. Alex Zahavich, vice president of Corporate Development and Applied Research at SAIT.
Zahavich, who spoke of his enthusiasm for the project, said it’s important for women in STEM and the trades to have the opportunity to get together to talk about their careers.
“To see the number of people here, and to have the women of ARIS plan this event… I’m very proud,” said Zahavich.
“SAIT is celebrating 100 years, and this is part of year 101. You’re all part of it,” he told the group.
Jen Nguyen, a second-year software development student at SAIT, said the highlight of the evening for her was hearing from the speakers of Ladies Learning Code.
“I was really happy to see that they were here because there are not enough ladies in the industry,” said Nguyen. “So this was a good chance to understand how we can empower the industry.”
Nguyen said she hopes events like this will also have an impact on the mindsets of men in STEM.
“I want to explain to my guy friends that we can see a change because, right now, there is something like one in 10 girls in software development,” she said. “I feel like this would have been enlightening for them.”
Photo above: The Women of ARIS pose for a photo during their event for women in STEM and the trades at SAIT on Wednesday, March 23, 2016. From left to right: Carole Doucet Love, Vita Martez, Suilan Chen, Donna Bilyk, Rebecca Davidson, Emily Swan, Sherry Yang, and Janet Bliss. (Photo by Cassie Ford)