Have you ever wondered what a day at work looks like for women with successful careers in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM)? Are you curious about why women choose to study STEM subjects, and what they find exciting about their jobs? As a Grade 8 female student you can explore such questions, and more, by participating in Operation Minerva! Operation Minerva is a full-day event where you will be out of the classroom and in a real workplace where women scientists or engineers will share with you some of the things that make their job fun and captivating. On this day professional women will mentor you on what authentic applications of science look like beyond the studying done at school. This unique job-shadowing experience has inspired many past participants to pursue the sciences in high school and their future careers.
"To provide an opportunity for connection between young ladies in Grade 8 and women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) workplaces to maintain, foster and promote interest in STEM paths by encouraging students to continue science studies in high school, university and as a career choice."
Why Operation Minerva?
The Operation Minerva (OM) Program has been running for 30 years and was designed to provide Grade 8 ladies with a hands-on experience in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) workplaces throughout Calgary. OM seeks to maintain, foster and promote interest in STEM paths by encouraging female students to continue their science studies in high school, university, and as a career choice. After participating in Operation Minerva, an increased number of girls choose to pursue post-secondary education with further studies or even careers in STEM (MacDonald, 2006).
Operation Minerva's focus is placed on Grade 8 ladies because studies show that this is the age when they will lose interest and confidence in STEM due to societal pressures and perceived gender norms (MacDonald, 2006).
For one day, young women meet peers from all across the city and job shadow women in their STEM workplace. This is a unique opportunity as it does not rely on students having a connection to someone in the workplace (e.g. Bring Your Kid to Work Day). Additionally, the program immerses youth into the workplace instead of bringing a speaker into the classroom, which enables interaction with a wide network of both of their peers and also female STEM mentors.
The program supports over 100 girls per year and connects them with STEM workplaces throughout the city. The feedback from the event has been that the young ladies leave feeling inspired to lead a career in the STEM industries and that they become aware of the many opportunities available to them (MacDonald, 2006). The vision for the program is to broaden its reach and support at-risk areas of the city.
With increasingly complex, global STEM challenges due to environmental and economic demands, it is necessary to have a growing collaborative STEM community to solve our future issues. By communities supporting Operation Minerva as Mentor-Companies or as sponsors, we are not just encouraging students to pursue STEM but are actively investing and developing our future problem-solvers. Encouraging female participation in these high-demand fields means we are investing in our collective future.
Operation Minerva: Calgary 3 Year Study, MacDonald, 2006
The findings show that participation in Operation Minerva is effective at encouraging girls to pursue science.
Operation Minerva Goals
To raise awareness amongst parents, educators, and the general public regarding the underrepresentation of women in STEM education and careers.
To increase the number of women pursuing STEM career paths and increase the interest of adolescent females in the STEM fields of study.
To provide young ladies with the opportunity to meet professional female role models and possible mentors in the STEM fields.
To foster positive attitudes towards courses and careers in the STEM areas amongst young females by providing them with fun and stimulating experiences.
To showcase the important role women in South East Alberta currently play in the STEM areas and the career opportunities available to them.
To foster network building among young female students to encourage a positive environment supporting achievement in Math and Sciences.
To demonstrate through direct experience (job shadowing and hands-on workshops) that the STEM areas can be challenging and yet interesting and rewarding.
To provide an experiential base to assist the young ladies in their decision making when planning their high school and post secondary educational pathways.
To increase support from educational institutions, government, and the private sector for women’s involvement in the STEM areas.
To increase media exposure for the STEM areas resulting in greater public understanding of the importance of science and technology in society.