The theme of this year's International Women's Day is #PressforProgress, and all around me I see Canadian charities that are fighting for women's rights.
The problem is bigger than we think. Young girls need more active role models who can take down the barriers for us.
Start them young!
In Canada and around the world, STEM is seen as a gateway to innovation. If only it were that simple.
As Science Minister, I cannot stress how important it is to encourage this thirst for knowledge in Canada's young population. All young Canadians should be able to see themselves taking part in the wonderful world of science. We need to create and maintain this culture of curiosity so that our population can be inspired to ask bold questions, and seek new knowledge.
The 2017 federal budget pledges an incredible $50 million over two years to teach young Canadians to code. This is a huge boost to support Canadians in developing the skills and creativity needed to compete and lead in the global innovation race.
Did you know that the mathematician who calculated the trajectories for NASA's Apollo 11 flight to the Moon was an African-American woman? Her name is Katherine Johnson. Thanks to the movie Hidden Figures, her story, and that of two other brilliant African-American women, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, is finally being told.
Gifts connected to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) are also very popular this season. Many modern tech toys help kids interact with technology without losing hands-on play. These gadgets can come at higher price points, so family members may want to pool their resources for one big present.
In Canada, women remain underrepresented in the STEM fields, making up 22 per cent of the STEM workforce. Women earn nearly half of the bachelor's degrees in science but only a third of the PhDs. They are also underpaid, with a 7.5 per cent wage gap.
I think I'd feel much more comfortable if my child secured a traditional job with predictable hours, good benefits and long-term stability. Perhaps that can still happen. However, if that is not in the cards, I want to make sure he has started to consider alternate possibilities. Whatever the future holds, I saw Take Our Kids to Work Day as a chance to look beyond traditional workplaces and a chance to expose him to different career paths in a concrete way.