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It was never a dress: a discussion on women and diversity in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine

By Michelle Rosen

AUGUST 18, 2017

On August 1st students from the Institute of Medical Science Student Association(IMSSA) organized It was never a dress, an event dedicated to the celebration and discussion of women and diversity in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine.

The event, held at Hart House, reached over 500 viewers via social media live-streams and 60 in-person attendees. The keynote address was given by Dr. Renee Hlozek, Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Toronto. A panel discussion featured Drs. Gillian Einstein (neuroscientist), Sharmistha Mishra (mathematical modeler and infectious disease physician), Molly Shoichet(bioengineer), Kona Williams (forensic pathologist), and was moderated by Samantha Yammine, PhD candidate in Molecular Genetics. This was followed by a networking session.

Discussion highlights included the appropriateness of dress/behaviour/appearance as a gendered issue in the workplace and the burden of representation on women and minority groups.  Factors that influence “drop-out” of women in STEM at and past the post-doc level were also discussed.  There was also a call for structural change and institutional support for women with families.  The importance of social media and visibility of women in STEM was highlighted.