‘Grow my understanding’: Grade 9 girls explore STEM career options in Calgary

Helen Arias operated a camera at the Explore STEM event at SAIT on Wednesday. Global News

Around 1,000 Grade 9 girls from 90 schools in Calgary got hands-on with their futures on Wednesday.

The University of Calgary, Mount Royal University and SAIT put on Explore STEM, a program that engages girls in science, technology, engineering and math careers.

Women are under-represented in these fields and while they make up 56.4 per cent of university enrolment and 52.5 per cent of college enrolment, only 23.4 per cent of workers in STEM occupations are female, according to Explore STEM.

Grade 9 girls put together a newscast at SAIT on Wednesday as part of the Explore STEM program. Global News

Sessions at Wednesday’s event covered a range of topics, including networking, cinema, television, Java programming, robotics, geomatics, web page design and multimedia.

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The students at SAIT put together a TV newscast — using an old Global News anchor desk — which was focused on key positions like computer graphics operators, video switchers, lighting directors and hosts.

Mo Keshavjee, project co-ordinator of SAIT’s Student Experience Program, said this marks the 20th anniversary of the STEM program.

“The goal is to give young women an opportunity to see the career paths available for them,” he explained.

“We’re trying to get them away from traditional female roles and by exposing them to some of the career options available in STEM — they’re going into high school now and it’ll give them the chance to work with science and math. When they go to post-secondary… they have options open.”

Keshavjee said it started out as an IT program.

“As technology changed, we’ve changed with it,” he said.

Grade 9 girls put together a newscast at SAIT on Wednesday as part of the Explore STEM program. Global News

Morgan Kuzuchar, who wants to be a science teacher, took part in the program to expand her grasp of the subject.

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“It was a cool opportunity that we were offered and I felt it would help grow my understanding,” she said.

“[It helped increase] my knowledge in science and how complicated things can really be in the real world.”

Fatma Almurab wants to be a doctor to help other people.

“It was amazingly terrifying and I thought it was a really good time,” she said of the day’s events.

Helen Arias wants to be in graphic design and said skills learned in the program will help prepare her for an exciting career.

“I learned about printing and Photoshop,” she said. “I thought that was really cool.”

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