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Illuminate X Durham - What I Learned

Hi everyone! My name is Iris and I am a Grade 9 student at University of Toronto Schools. Today, I had the pleasure to attend Illuminate x Durham’s regional conference. Here are my thoughts highlighting what I learned about women in STEM.

At today’s conference, I learned the importance of empowering both yourself and others as young women in STEM, and not self sabotaging.

Ilona Dougherty’s presentation helped me understand how important it was to feel empowered as youth, and stand up for your thoughts. It really spoke to me when she mentioned how being at the table was only half the battle, and that the other half was actually taking the initiative to act.

Dr. Cecile Fradin’s presentation was also very informative, and shed light on getting over unconscious biases; it’s crucial not to listen to internalized stereotypes whether it’s due to your gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, etc., because it actually affects your real performance substantially. I enjoyed her presentation very thoroughly, and it was a fun combination of science and leadership.

Mackenzie Clark’s presentation on imposter syndrome was also very helpful, and I will definitely keep it in mind in future endeavors. It clarified and pointed out how you can be your own worst enemy; perfectionism and doubting yourself can be so mentally taxing, so I think that it was very important that she brought this topic to light. The power poses that she recommended were also very fun!

In general, I learned to ignore the negative stereotypes or typical expectations that come with being the ethnicity, gender, religion, etc. that I was born as, and that I should believe more in myself. If I have negative expectations, then it can result in negative performance. I’m definitely going to carry the values and teachings that I learned from today in any future careers that I will pursue, and even in smaller tasks at school.


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