Science, technology, engineering and math make up the four letters in “STEM”, which is the subject of a new exhibit at the Guelph Civic Museum. In “Iron Willed: Women in STEM”, you can travel through the history of science and engage with all the great women that have achieved big wins in science while overcoming tremendous social and societal barriers thrown in front of them, even in the 21st century.

From Marie Curie to Donna Strickland, the history of women in science has not just been a story about the advancement of scientific understanding and knowledge, but a story about social progress. Old-fashioned ideas about the role women can play in science can be seen in modern statistics, where only about 20 per cent of people receiving physics degrees are women, the lowest of all the physical sciences.

Now, we can all understand the struggle with the “Iron Willed” exhibit, which originated from Ingenium, a group of Ottawa museums, and was then adapted for Guelph with information about local scientists by Laura Coady, who is the Collections and Research Co-ordinator of Guelph Museums. Coady joins us this week, and so does University of Guelph physics prof Dr. Joanne O’Meara  and U of G microbial ecologist Dr. Heather Slinn.

With all this brain power on this week’s edition of the podcast, we will talk about the highlights of the exhibit, how it was made Guelph-friendly, and some of the interesting things you will find when you visit. We will also talk about the difficulties in getting more women into scientific fields, why the struggle starts long before the first year of university, and we will discuss the best ways to support women in STEM with some personal messages from the guests to their younger selves.

So let’s dig into the world of Women in STEM, and the challenges they face, on this week’s Guelph Politicast!

You can learn more about “Iron Willed: Women in STEM” at the Guelph Museums website, and you can also visit the exhibit in-person at the Guelph Civic Museum any time from now until February 20. You can learn more about Royal City Science and their efforts to build a science centre in Guelph at their website, and you can follow 500 Women Scientists Guelph on Twitter.

The host for the Guelph Politicast is Podbean. Find more episodes of the Politicast here, or download them on your favourite podcast app at Apple, StitcherGoogle, TuneIn and Spotify .

Also, when you subscribe to the Guelph Politicast channel and you will also get an episode of Open Sources Guelph every Monday, and an episode of End Credits every Friday.

Photo of Nobel laureate Donna Strickland courtesy of the University of Waterloo.

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