Missing Numbers: females can help solve Canada’s innovation crisis

Dr. Melanie Martin, photo courtesy of UWinnipeg

Dr. Melanie Martin, photo courtesy of UWinnipeg

How can Canada do more to equip and empower girls and women to help solve its innovation crisis over the next 50 years?

The University of Winnipeg’s Dr. Melanie Martin, professor of physics, has been selected to address this issue at the upcoming Canadian Science Policy Conference in Ottawa. The Missing Numbers panel will shed light on the potential impact of strengthening gender diversity and inclusion in improving Canada’s innovation performance.

Dr. Martin is at the frontier of MRI technology. She will address opportunities and challenges young women face entering and remaining in careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and address how Canada can foster more diversity in groups of researchers to make scientific breakthroughs.

Many studies highlight how Canada faces an innovation crisis. A survey by Microsoft found young girls in Europe become interested in STEM subjects around age 11 but then lose interest at around age 15. Issues noted were a lack of female role models in STEM subjects, a need for mentors and a need for more hands-on STEM experiences inside and outside the classroom.

“We make up 50% of the population, yet we see participation in STEM declining steadily from grade school through to university and in academic and industry careers. This is a lost talent pool our country needs to remain innovators,” said Dr. Martin. “Looking at my own career, which really took off with the SHAD program, I think scholarships and mentorship support for young women interested in STEM fields is critically important. We can rethink our policies to increase these numbers.”

Dr. Martin is developing non-invasive methods to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and other central nervous systems disorders as early as possible.

The 9th Canadian Science Policy Conference, to be held in Ottawa from November 1 to 3, 2017, is expected to attract 700 delegates and 200 speakers.

SHAD is sponsoring the Missing Numbers panel. SHAD is a registered Canadian charity that empowers exceptional high school students – at a pivotal point in their education – to recognize their own capabilities and envision their extraordinary potential as tomorrow’s leaders and change makers.


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