How These Six Women prosper in STEM


Spring 2024

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STEM, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics is a term used to group together various careers using the previously mentioned skills. People in STEM careers can be found working in medicine, in app development and cybersecurity, in data to inform public policy, and in designing the engines for the airplanes we ride in. And those are just a few examples of the endless options available to those interested in STEM. These careers are often considered high-paying and in-demand as the world innovates its way towards the future. 

Yet, according to Randstad, women only make up 23 per cent of people employed in STEM in Canada. They often face innumerable obstacles in their career paths compared to their male peers, and in general, STEM is still considered to be an “old boys club”. While progress feels stagnant, more policies are being put into place in order to encourage more women to consider joining STEM fields. Women in STEM introduce new perspectives and ideas into their areas of expertise, including the importance of studying women’s healthcare independent of men’s and how to revolutionize cybersecurity. 

Below are the stories of six incredible Canadian women who are leaders in their chosen STEM fields.


Dr. Terri Aldred 

Physician, Clinical Instructor University of British Columbia, Medical Director for Primary Care for British Columbia’s First Nations Health Authority, British Columbia Medical Journal- Editorial Board

Dr. Terri Aldred is Carrier from the Tl’Azt’En territory located north of Fort St. James. She is Lysiloo (Frog) Clan who are traditionally known as the voice of the people. Dr. Aldred is a family physician who has committed herself to improving the healthcare of Indigenous peoples.  

She hopes to bring more Indigenous-specific medical stories to light as well as teach the upcoming generation of physicians how to approach medicine in ways that are both innovative and culturally inclusive. 

Dr. Charu Kaushic 

PhD, Scientific Director, Institute of Infection and Immunity – Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Professor, Department of Medicine at McMaster University: Obstetrics and Gynecology and Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences 

Dr. Kaushic is a leader in the study of women’s reproductive health. Her studies have primarily revolved around, “understanding various aspects of host-pathogen interaction as they relate to women’s susceptibility and immune responses to the sexually transmitted viral pathogens HIV and herpes virus.” (Canadian Institute of Health Research). She is working towards gender-specific preventions and vaccines, and to educate and inform women of the facts of their reproductive health so they can make fully informed decisions. 

Dr. Donna Strickland 

PhD, Nobel Prize Winner in Physics, Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at University of Waterloo, Optical Society of America

In 2018 Dr. Strickland became the third woman in history, and the first woman from Canada to win the Nobel Prize in the physics category. She was awarded for the production of chirped pulse amplification. Or, lasers, specifically high-intensity ultra-short optical pulses. These lasers have many real-world uses including in laser eye surgery and machining of small glass parts for use in cell phones.


Claudette McGowan

Global Information Technology Leader, CEO for Protexxa, Innovator in Cybersecurity Technology

You may know her as the moderator for the one-on-one conversation with Michelle Obama that happened at the Elevate conference in 2019. But, with an extensive history of working in cybersecurity at TD Bank and Bank of Montreal among other major organizations, Ms. McGowan has cemented herself as a leader in the world of technology. 

Her work has revolved around increasing the general public’s cyber literacy. Meaning, helping people learn how to best protect their personal information while online. As well as helping women successfully pursue careers in STEM.


Jasraj Chahal 

Mechanical Engineer, Innovation Team at Bell Helicopter

Jasraj Chahal always had an interest in mechanics, and while she originally thought she wanted to design cars for a living, she found her stride within the aerospace industry. She works primarily in control systems for commercial helicopters and ensuring that control systems are working effectively as well as conducting testing and data analysis. 


Dr. Nancy Reid 

PhD, Professor of Statistical Sciences at University of Toronto, Canada Research Chair in Statistical Theory and Applications, Director of the Canadian Institute for Statistical Sciences

Dr. Nancy Reid’s love for math and research led her to become one of the world’s leaders in theoretical statistics. She describes the basis of her work as, “trying to find the general mathematical principles and tools that provide a basis for building statistical methods to apply to lots of different settings.” (Canssi) Her work has included the co-development of the .Cox-Reid likelihood, and has written many important papers in regards to theoretical statistics, including papers on Bayesian and frequentist methods within the last few years.

Lauren Schwartz | Staff Writer

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