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Illuminate x Durham: Women in STEM

Hello, my name is Thaneesha Sivasithambaram and I am a grade 10 student at Pickering High School. I was given the opportunity to attend Illuminate x Durham's regional conference about women in STEM. Today, I would like to discuss my thoughts on what I learned during this conference.

I learned the importance of defying the status quo and questioning authority during the first keynote by Ilona Daugherty. Research tells us that as the industrial revolution continued, there was less child labour; technological developments led to children in urban areas and became an “economic burden”. Consequently, there was a shift in the opinion of youth and youth culture; chronological age became a central feature about how we arrange society. From a young age, we are socialized to believe that as children and teenagers, our opinions are irrelevant to that of our elders. However, by disengaging in this arbitrary idea that young people are 'incomplete' in comparison to adults, we can foster a safe community for young leaders to prosper. Also, intergenerational collaboration can lead to a greater impact made by youth and encourage them to contribute to unique abilities.

The closing keynote, presented by Andrea Gunraj, discussed the importance of intersectionality within feminism and the importance of prioritizing human rights. This keynote helped me understand my role as a woman in society and how I can be a mentor. It is common for us to feel the pressure of being in an authoritative position. However, it is important to be real with ourselves: why am I putting this pressure on myself? What is causing me to feel this way? By being a good co-mentor, rather than a mentor, so that you can learn from others, and they can learn from you.

Overall, this conference helped me understand the importance of women in STEM and provided me with insight on numerous topics regarding my role as a young woman in a male-dominated field. In the future, I will utilize this knowledge and leadership skills that I have developed to help me in my career.


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