Celebrating International Women's Day

Transcript—Celebrating International Women's Day

Kate Young: Hi, I'm Kate Young, and I'm here with the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, the Minister of Science. It's International Women's Day. Tell us who inspired you as far as science is concerned.

Hon. Kirsty Duncan: I'm going to start with my grandmother and my mother. My grandmother worked at a time when women didn't work. My mom became a phys ed teacher. She's a neat lady. She plays bagpipes. She learned to fly a plane. This was really different. And both of them, my grandmother and my mother, taught me you could do whatever you wanted. Dream your greatest dream.

And I eventually went into science, although I started in art, dance and music, but there weren't a lot of role models at that time. And the year I was finishing my PhD, Dr. Roberta Bondar went to space, and she taught us that women in science—that women—could do anything, including reach for the stars, literally.

Kate Young: But we've still got a long way to go, and we want to encourage young girls to get into the sciences, and now we've got this Choose Science.

Hon. Kirsty Duncan: #ChooseScience.

Kate Young: Yes. Tell us about that.

Hon. Kirsty Duncan: We want to get more youth engaged in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. We particularly want young women to consider—to choose—science. And the reason is, back in 1987 only 20 percent of women were involved in the STEM workforce. Today, it's just 22 percent. That's not good enough. We can do better. We have to do better because science needs women. It needs their voices. It needs their insights. And when we don't include women, it can have a real impact.

I think of the first voice recognition software: it was calibrated only to men's voices. So if we add women, we change the conversation. Women may ask different questions, use different methodology, different methods. And they may get results that will benefit all Canadians.

Kate Young: Do you have any final words of encouragement for young women who are thinking of getting into the sciences?

Hon. Kirsty Duncan: Absolutely. Take time to dream your greatest dream. Take every opportunity that comes your way because you don't know where those opportunities will lead. And always remember there will be challenges in life. There's always challenges. I call them speed bumps. You have to figure a way over them or around them. And we will be waiting to watch what this next generation is going to do, and we know it will be spectacular.

Kate Young: It's an exciting time to be a woman on this International Women's Day.

Hon. Kirsty Duncan: Happy International Women's Day, Kate.

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