5 Ways to Step Into S.T.E.M.

With more and more women breaking into the field of S.T.E.M., it’s natural to feel curious and want to discover more about the field.  Whether you’re an aspiring scientist or just someone who’s interested in learning more, here are a few things that you can do to get into science, technology, engineering, and mathematics!

Follow someone

It’s never been easier to access content that teaches us more about the world around us and other people’s experiences. Youtube Channels like ASAPScience, Crash Course, Vsauce, SciShow and programs like Khan Academy create stunning and easily digestible content for both students and curious onlookers alike. All you have to do is follow them and wait for their next update. Thanks to the power of the internet, you can get a daily dose of cat memes and fun facts served to you at breakneck pace!

Read and explore

The wonderful thing about S.T.E.M. is that it’s all around us. Fundamentally, Science is what helps us understand the world around us and how it works. It’s made up of theories, discoveries and ideas (and it’s ever changing!). The range of topics are endless and all you need to do to learn more is interest. As someone in Biology, my main area of interest is the environment around me. Whenever I have the opportunity to travel to a new place, I take a little time to walk around and learn more about the flora and fauna that are native to the area. Aside from uploading more information into the fun fact machine, you can share what you learn with others!

Find a mentor

I’ve come to realize that I’m in a rather privileged position when it comes to my own academic career in Biology and Technology.  Not only did I have the funding the pursue a higher education, I also had the right encouragement. Not only were my parents very supportive once I decided that I wanted to study biology, I was also helped out by other incredible women and men in the science department at my community college and at my university. I realize now that not every woman who chooses a career in S.T.E.M. is surrounded by the positive encouragement from the academic community and their own support systems which is why I urge you to find a mentor if you choose to pursue an education in the Sciences.

I’ve had the pleasure of having many mentors who fed my curiosity about chemistry, physics, and biology. However, when I speak about an excellent mentor relationship I can only think of a dear friend of mine. She was an undecided major that casually joined a physics 101 class and fortunately met Dr A. Harlick. Now she’s graduating with a double major in Biochemistry and Physics. Dr Harlick was the type of person who went above and beyond to see her students succeed and understand the material. She excited hundreds of students about physics with her witty sarcasm and endless movie references. But, one thing that she never held back was the reality of being a woman in the S.T.E.M. field. Though it was difficult, she persevered. I remember her telling us that initially she was in university to study linguistics but ultimately pursued her PhD in Physics to prove someone that she could. Heck, she even tempted me to join the dark side that’s physics. Now I will admit, not everyone will run into a Dr Harlick but there is inspiration out there. You should never step into a field blind to the bad things, so take a mentor with you. It could be a professor, a professional, or someone with a passion for the sciences, a mentor is never hard to find in a field so filled with curious minds eager to share their knowledge.

Join in!

Whether that means volunteering at a university or practice, opportunities to get hands-on experience is there so long as you have the heart to pursue it! I’ve had the pleasure of caring for harp seals and breeding salmon. All it took as a little patience and scouting for an opening. Who knows, volunteering can lead you to your next degree, career, community, or friends! Volunteer and help programs like Girls Who Code who are bringing S.T.E.M. to our youth. You don’t have to enrol in a 4-year university program to be active in the S.T.E.M. community. All it takes is a little dedication, a willingness to learn, and a curiosity about the world around us.

Encourage others, always.

Remember step 3? Make sure you’re a step 3 for someone else too. Being a mentor doesn’t mean that you know all there is about the world and you certainly don’t have to be Bill Nye the Science Guy. But giving words of positive encouragement and steering people in the right direction with resources that you may have will be enough to get the wheels of curiosity turning.

Learning something new doesn’t have to mean spending a lot of money on equipment or completing a degree. It’s easier than ever to access information with videos breaking down complex concepts into easily digestible content. Sometimes all it takes is a little curiosity and hunger to learn more. So get on out and happy learning!