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Illuminate x Durham Regional Conference: STEM Womens’ Perspectives

Hey everyone! I’m Yashrah Moeed, a grade 10 student at Pickering high school who had the opportunity to partake in the Illuminate x Durham’s Regional conference. There were many thoughts that came to mind during the entire conference and many highlights. It’s not every day that I take a while to learn about thoughts from a STEM perspective especially from a female side. I took the time to think about how women have it difficult in many aspects of life but that doesn’t mean that women have any less of the potential men do to make change in this world. The first keynote speaker, Ilona Dougherty said some very inspiring things from her perspective and experiences in life. I learnt that the role of young people is not to make life easier for adults. Their role is to discover their abilities and potential to be innovative and find solutions to better the world. Youth minds are most capable of being creative but they need the opportunities to tap into their unique abilities. Simple things we youth can do to take initiative is to embrace our roles of breaking status quotes, build partnerships with people who will bring out the best in us, and never leave the table, expressing our importance. We also need to stop looking at things as experiences, we need to look at them as opportunities to make change. We can only make a difference if we discover who we are. The second speaker, Cecile Fradin had interesting things to share about herself and her transitions between high school, university, and her job. She finds that it’s not wrong to ask for help, the words of others can help us understand our own. Women also face problems because unconscious biases are formed outside of our conscious awareness from social stereotypes and internalized stereotypes can stop people from reaching their full potential. She also shared a little bit about research done in her world like exploring magnetotactic bacteria and fly embryonic development. During the rest of the event, I also got the chance to learn about things people want to see on resumes e.g. values/interests, what imposter syndrome is, self-confidence, and concepts about different topics of passion.