Evidence of meeting #33 for Status of Women in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was techsploration.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

4:10 p.m.

Executive Director, Techsploration

Tricia Robertson

I think the earlier you start, the better it is, of course. I think it is really important that grade nine be the latest that you reach the young women. At grade nine they're making important course choices, such as which math or science course to take, so we really want to work with them in that area, and that's one of the things that all our role models do.

At this point in time, they're very willing to listen. In fact they're eager to hear about all of the different careers. If you hear the young women talk about the women they've met, the role models they've met, either at our events or in the workplace, and how excited they get about it and how much detail they can tell you about it, it's not too late.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Mississauga South, ON

That's good to hear.

And in fact you mentioned in your presentation that Techsploration, the program, was a collaboration of many groups, including teachers and employers, but you also mentioned parents. May I ask how parents are involved in your program?

4:10 p.m.

Executive Director, Techsploration

Tricia Robertson

Parents are involved in our programs in a number of different ways. For example, a parent may be one of the chaperones to work with the teachers to bring the girls to our events. We've had many parents involved in the program who get very excited to hear about the opportunities that their daughters wouldn't otherwise hear about.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Mississauga South, ON

Thank you. That's great.

I was wondering if there was the aspect of asking the parents at home to maybe steer girls into reading for pleasure books about science, books of that nature, as opposed to other books they might want to read. But it doesn't sound as if that is part of the program specifically.

4:15 p.m.

Executive Director, Techsploration

Tricia Robertson

No, at this point it isn't. When we begin our online workshops, parents are definitely one of the targets we want to reach out to. I think that parents definitely need a lot of assistance in that area. If they themselves haven't been exposed to careers in sciences or in engineering, and they know very little about it, they too are at the same disadvantage that the girls are because they haven't met women doing these jobs.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Mississauga South, ON

Exactly.

With regard to the 38 sponsors you mentioned, I am curious about the funding. Do the sponsors...? Are they only the workplaces that the girls visit?

You mentioned in-kind donations. Do they also fund with dollars and that kind of backing as well?

4:15 p.m.

Executive Director, Techsploration

Tricia Robertson

Our sponsors are really involved in the program. Of the 38, it's all on varying levels. They all give us some kind of financial funding, but the really important thing is that we also receive role models from their workplace. We receive representatives from the employers to work on our committees and they provide role models for our different events, which is absolutely huge. And they give them time off with pay to do this in many instances.

When they're a smaller employer that's a little different. So they might give them the time off,ut we might end up giving them a $50 honorarium for working with us that day.

4:15 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Marie-Claude Morin

Ms. Robertson, I have to interrupt you. Unfortunately, Ms. Ambler's time is up.

Ms. Sgro, you have seven minutes.

May 7th, 2012 / 4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro York West, ON

Thank you very much.

To both Ms. Robertson and Ms. Armour, thank you so very much for the great work you're doing on behalf of women and girls in Canada. I'm sure that much of the work you're doing is not just focused on engineering and trades and so on, but it probably encompasses so many other avenues that you are not even aware of. It has impacted many of the young women.

Ms. Armour, in particular on the differences between the education that our young women are getting on reserves versus what they would be getting in the local schools in Edmonton and elsewhere, could you talk a little bit about the amount of difference you've seen? You indicated earlier there was a significant difference in their level of education and the quality of education they had received on the reserves. Can you elaborate a bit on that?

4:15 p.m.

President of the Board, Canadian Centre for Women in Science, Engineering, Trades and Technology

Margaret-Ann Armour

Yes.

So often in the schools in the city there is a specialized teacher for each area, so they're getting biology from someone who is well trained in biology and they're learning physics from someone who has a physics background. When you go to rural schools as well as schools on the reserve, it's usually one teacher who is teaching a very large number of subjects. There may be only one or two students who are interested in those particular subjects. The students are not having the chance to interact with one another and learn from one another. I think that's making a very big difference.

It's a difficult problem to overcome, because one realizes it's very difficult to have a large cohort of teachers in a relatively small school.

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro York West, ON

That quite possibly leads to the fact that so many children end up leaving the reserves and going to the city. But if they don't do that it seems to be so much harder for those aboriginal children to really move forward unless they choose to do that.

4:15 p.m.

President of the Board, Canadian Centre for Women in Science, Engineering, Trades and Technology

Margaret-Ann Armour

Yes, that's right.

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro York West, ON

Ms. Robertson, Techsploration sounds like a wonderful program. Actually even the name is a little bit interesting, to look at the name and think it would be intriguing for a young woman to ask what it's all about. So you started out with a particular name that I think they might pay attention to, to just try to get some extra interest.

Where else are you able to offer that program, or have you had a chance to partner with some other parts of Canada to try to get it in a variety of other areas?

4:20 p.m.

Executive Director, Techsploration

Tricia Robertson

Actually, last year I was in Newfoundland because Techsploration was celebrating its tenth anniversary in Newfoundland. A few years after Techsploration began in Nova Scotia, we assisted them with starting the program in Newfoundland, and it has been really successful.

We have several committees, and one of them is our expansion committee. We're seriously discussing how we can develop what we call a chapter package, so that if somebody wanted to start Techsploration on Monday morning in Ontario, they would know what information they would need, and what kind of memorandums of understanding we would have to have. We're in the process of looking into that.

We also want to put the information online. We have this fabulous new website and portal that will facilitate that now. That would also make it a lot easier for another province or organization to access our materials and resources.

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro York West, ON

It would probably move along much faster as far as establishing chapters, in whatever form they would be presented, if it were available online.

We're very fortunate to hear from you today. It's certainly very encouraging.

Do you have an opportunity, Ms. Robertson, from what you are seeing in this Techsploration avenue you're working on to talk to the universities about how they could attract more women into university and the sciences and so on?