WWEST at Yukon College releases Current State of Women in STEM in Yukon report

WHITEHORSE—Yukon women and girls are showing a high interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields of study and careers, and there is a high level of employment for women in these fields in Yukon. However, this is not always reflected in management positions, successful scholarship applications, or levels of research funding.

This is according to the first-ever snapshot of the state of women and girls in STEM in Yukon, released today by the Westcoast Women in Engineering, Science and Technology (WWEST) Associate Chair at Yukon College.

The report looks at a number of factors in the participation of women and girls in STEM fields from elementary school to post-secondary and employment, including test results, application success, graduation, professional affiliation and research funding.

"While the report shows Yukon employment opportunities are positive for women who persevere in their STEM fields, we can do more to support young women pursuing STEM careers with mentorship, bursaries and visible role models,” said RJ Smith, one of the report authors.  “Ultimately, there is more work to be done to help improve diversity in STEM fields nationally and in Yukon.”

Smith also notes that in compiling the report the team found multiple gaps in data, including the recording of genders of students at all levels, research project leads, and STEM professionals. As a result, the current snapshot sometimes inferred gender based on recorded names, leading to a larger potential margin of error.

The report makes several recommendations to Yukon College as well as the Governments of Yukon and Canada to improve the snapshot future reports can provide. These include the better recording of gender overall, having available data on Yukon Grant recipients, the reporting of research funding to male and female project leads, and tracking reasons behind post-secondary students’ program choices.

“Yukon government recognizes that gender diversity plays an important role in strengthening innovation and productivity in STEM fields,” said Dr. Aynslie Ogden, science advisor to the Government of Yukon. “By reviewing existing data on diversity in STEM studies and professions in Yukon, this report has provided us with a better understanding of the challenges of existing metrics and opportunities to improve how we collect data. This is an important step in increasing awareness and participation of women in STEM in Yukon.” 

Funding for the Current State of Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) in Yukon report was provided by the Government of Yukon Office of the Science Advisor, the 2015-2020 NSERC Chair for Women in Science and Engineering for the British Columbia and Yukon Region (WWEST), and Yukon College.

The report is authored by the WWEST Associate Chair at Yukon College Alison Anderson, P.Eng.; WWEST Associate Chair Program Assistants Bryn Hoffman, RJ Smith and Chelsey Zurkan at Yukon College; WWEST Chair at Simon Fraser University Dr. Lesley Shannon; WWEST Program Manager Danniele Livengood and WWEST Data Analyst Zhi Yuh Ou Yang at Simon Fraser University. A full copy of the report and a list of data sources can be found at wwest.ca/.

Alongside compiling this report, during the past year the WWEST Associate Chair at Yukon College has led the Yukon STEM Outreach Collective, interviewed Yukon STEM professionals for the Best of the WWEST: Inspiring Women with Real Stories podcast celebrating female STEM role models and hosted Fem In STEM, a networking and community-building event for Yukon women in STEM.

Additional Yukon contributors to WWEST Associate Chair at Yukon College include: TechYukon, Engineers Yukon, Goldcorp Inc., Make IT Solutions, NorthwesTel, Total North Communications, Yukon Chamber of Mines, Yukon Women in Mining and Yukon Women in Trades and Technology.

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WWEST is the operating name for one of the five NSERC Chairs for Women in Science and Engineering (CWSE) across Canada, and a member of the CWSE National Network. The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Chair for Women in Science and Engineering Program (CWSE) was launched in 1996. The goal of the program is to increase the participation of women in science and engineering and to provide role models for women active in, and considering, careers in these fields.

Each of the five NSERC Chairs for Women in Science and Engineering (CWSE) program is regional, with one Chair for each of the Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario, Prairie and British Columbia/Yukon regions. The NSERC Chair for Women in Science and Engineering for the BC/Yukon Region operates under the name Westcoast Women in Engineering, Science, and Technology (WWEST).

Yukon College is grounded in northern expertise and strong partnerships with the 14 Yukon First Nations. With over 50 programs, including undergraduate degrees, trades and vocational training and post-secondary access programs, Yukon’s only post-secondary institution offers a pathway for every learner. The future home of Yukon University is a leader in education on Indigenous self-determination, climate change impacts and sustainable resource development. Yukon College’s 13 campuses contribute to the development of a healthy and prosperous north through relevant, innovative, inclusive education and applied research.

For more information, please contact:

Michael Vernon

Communications Coordinator
College and External Relations
867.668.8786
mvernon@yukoncollege.yk.ca