February 11 is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science – a day for the global community to recognize the accomplishments and contributions of women and girls in science and focus on ways we can increasingly engage and empower women and girls with the sciences.

The University of Lethbridge is privileged to have a diverse learning and innovation environment. We strive to be welcoming, to create an environment of belonging, and to advance knowledge from many perspectives, histories and cultures.

This year, we are celebrating the diversity of knowledge and academic backgrounds women and girls are involved with across Sciences, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM). The intersections and sharing of information across sciences and arts are essential for solving problems and confronting big questions — including everything from how scientific breakthroughs are communicated and how various publics understand, accept, or refute them, to connecting technology development to human behaviours so that science is meaningful and useful to society.

In my own research, I have experienced the joys and challenges of working across science, engineering, technology and arts disciplines as large research groups work to better understand the big issues we face as people on the Prairies and as global citizens. On one of those projects, a smaller team from public policy, consumer psychology and engineering developed outlines of how global energy systems can and might transition from primarily fossil fuel-based to more mixed systems, and eventually to a lower carbon footprint of earth-power driven systems. The conversations were challenging, not only because we were each bringing our expertise to the table, but because our expertise was formed in different languages. Our training meant we all had unique terms and phrases that may not be easily understood by people outside our area. We learned very quickly that communication and respect for one another’s expertise were keys for success. We learned how large provincial, national and international energy systems may change and transition over the next few decades, and also about each other and ourselves.

Some of the experiences I am most grateful for as a woman in engineering and science are these intersections of multiple viewpoints, perspectives and ways we see the world around us. I am grateful for the sometimes-difficult discussions had by people who disagree or don’t understand each other, but who choose to persevere and learn together. That’s what good science does — it challenges itself and evolves as we learn.

As Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler said in the series finale of The Big Bang Theory, “I would just like to take this moment to say to all the young girls out there who dream about science as a profession: go for it. It is the greatest job in the world. And if anybody tells you, you can't, don't listen.”

Dena McMartin
Vice-President (Research)
University of Lethbridge

Make a gift to student scholarships and help support the next generation of women and girls in science.

Apply by June 30 to start this fall!

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