SFU Student Community Engagement award winners support diversity in STEM through community workshops
Five criminology students are working to lower the barrier of entry to science education by hosting free science workshops for the community and promoting a culture of inclusivity in STEM fields.
A winner of this year’s SFU Student Community Engagement award, FEM-in-STEM is a collective formed by five students—Vienna Lam, Tayler Schmidt, Cassidy Smith, Naomi Zakimi, and Payten Smith—to bring their love of science education to the public. It hosts free science workshops to make science education more accessible to the public and challenge existing stereotypes surrounding science fields.
“We aim to interact and connect with young minds in the hopes of fostering an interest within the scientific disciplines,” says group member Cassidy Smith. “By demonstrating that science is a fun and inclusive field, we are trying to show children from an early age that they too can get involved in the sciences and that curiosity is an admirable quality.”
The Community Engagement award provides a combined $17,000 for six teams to share in funding to work on projects of importance in their communities.
FEM-in-STEM used the funding to host the Superheroes Science Boot Camp, part of a larger network of events happening during the Burnaby Festival of Learning. The event is also being sponsored by the Society for Canadian Women in Science and Technology, as well as SFU’s School of Criminology.
“I decided to join FEM-in-STEM because I believe it’s important to show children and youth that science is fun,” says Naomi Zakimi, a group member. “The FEM-in-STEM team to show that everyone, regardless of gender, can have a career in any field they want, and that includes STEM.”
Zakimi touches on an oft-noted point that women are highly underrepresented in STEM careers, making up only 24% of the STEM workforce as opposed to 47% of the general workforce in the U.S.
STEM, short for “science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” can encompass a variety of disciplines, from psychology and criminology to chemical engineering and mathematics.
“Overall, by running these workshops we want people to come, learn, and have fun,” says Smith. “Hopefully our events will help youth to spark interest in science and see it as something extraordinary.”