It’s been 100 years since women won the right to vote in Alberta. Since then women have been making strides and breaking down barriers, including here at SAIT. Many women are entering, and succeeding, in trades and technology industries traditionally dominated by men.
That’s why members of Women of Applied Research and Innovation Services (WARIS) at SAIT held their first mentorship event to encourage female involvement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), as well as trades.
Times have changed
“We want to create a bridge to help connect students with people in the industry, alumni, and staff to help support each other, to mentor, and to inspire,” says Sherry Yang, a SAIT alumna (ICT ’12) and current software developer with the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Application Development Lab (RADlab), part of SAIT’s Applied Research and Innovation Services (ARIS).
The event ― part of the SAIT centennial 100 Projects project ― welcomed approximately 50 guests to hear from inspiring women speakers who are part of SAIT’s Women in Technology and Trade (WITT), Ladies Learning Code, Chic Geek, and more.
Yang says when she was a student she didn’t feel there was as much support for women training in her field, and she understands how valuable events like this are.
“If someone else is in the same boat as I am, that’s going to be my inspiration to go on,” Yang says.
Looking back to look ahead
Eileen Jewell (nee Dahr), alumna (Drafting ’61) and first woman instructor in the Drafting department (’76-’93), says at the time she was teaching it was challenging to be the only woman. She remembers wondering if she would fit in.
“The male students could be a little leery when they saw a woman teaching, but I proved myself and I never had any negative issues being a female.”
Although it can still be daunting for women, things have evolved since Jewell’s time.
Alexandria Evans, a second year Diesel Equipment Technician student in SAIT’s School of Transportation, says things are changing.
“It’s not rare to find women in my trade. Women are more career-oriented now and if you like something, go for it.”
Jewell echoes this sentiment.
“I don’t think there’s anything we can’t do. There’s no reason why women can’t succeed. They just need to take the challenge and go for it!”