The Girls SySTEM Mentorship Program was founded in the early months of 2018 by Kathryn Hong, a Master's student in Medical Sciences at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. Kathryn's love of science began young, though she credits her experience with mentorship for keeping her passion alive and providing her the determination she needed to get to where she is today. Seeing first-hand the kind of barriers women face when pursuing education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) – and knowing her experience with mentorship was unique – Kathryn became passionate about giving young people the opportunity to experience what she had growing up. For Kathryn, intervention in high school and late elementary is critical: students need to be given the chance to explore STEM before post-secondary so that they're able to make informed decisions about their futures. To tackle women's under-representation in STEM, more than awareness is needed – we need mentorship.
And so the Girls SySTEM Mentorship Program was born. We believe our program provides a space for encouragement, which many young girls with an interest in science go without. We want to inspire the next generation of STEM innovators, one representative of a breadth of life experiences. In a world that's becoming more and more technical, giving students the tools to understand and explore STEM is synonymous with giving them tools to change the world – at the very least, we like to think so! The team at Girls SySTEM is incredibly passionate; we hope we're able to pass this passion on to you.
Our program aims to increase diversity in the STEM workforce by pairing students in grades 7-12 with professional mentors from a diverse range of fields. In doing so, our mentees are able to acquire first-hand knowledge of STEM early on in their academic careers, which we hope will be vital in building the confidence they need in order to break into historically (and presently!) male-dominated spheres. We also promise to provide our mentees with critical insight into various STEM careers so that they are given the ability to make more informed decisions about their futures.
At GSM, it is our mission to show young women that their capabilities, talents, and unique viewpoints are welcomed and supported within the field of STEM.