‘Soapbox Science’ helps inspire young Halifax girls to pursue the sciences

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‘Soapbox Science’ helping inspire young girls to pursue the sciences
WATCH: Twelve of Canada's top female scientists demonstrated what they do in a unique event aimed at getting more youth, particularly girls, interested in a career in science and technology. Jeremy Keefe reports – Jun 16, 2018

An event gaining popularity across the globe made its way to Halifax’s Seaport Market Saturday, giving the public a chance to interact with some of the top female scientists in the country.

Soapbox Science was originally started in 2011 in Europe as a way to inspire young girls to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, fields known by the acronym “STEM.”

Organizer Emma Finlayson-Trick wanted to bring the event, which first came to Canada last year when it debuted in Toronto, to the Maritimes to help encourage more females to enter STEM-related studies just like she has.

“It’s not hard to get women excited about science,” she explained. “The problem is keeping those women in science.”

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“Having these wonderful female scientists talk about the work they’re doing helps to generally show that there are women scientists and it’s a wonderful career to pursue.”

Dr. Sarah Wells, associate professor at Dalhousie University, was one of the 12 researchers who spoke to the crowd and answered questions about the work they do.

She said when they do outreach programs in high schools, they often find students who are interested in the sciences but are unsure how to pursue those type of careers.

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“In talking to them, we discover that they stopped taking math in grade nine, so it’s a concern that there’s not an awareness there for girls at younger ages,” she explained. “They need to keep taking math and physics and chemistry, stay in all of these subjects, in order to keep those doors open.”

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Wells is supportive of events like Soapbox Science and hopes it serves as way to help young people understand what science and technology is all about.

“[It’s great for] these young girls and for the public in general to see that these are strong, intelligent, smart women that are very proud of the work they do,” she explained. “We’re not afraid to be scientists and talk about our research with everybody; we’re enthusiastic and it’s a great job.”

Follow @Jeremy_Keefe

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