Solving the problem of gender inequality in the sciences

Who: Juliet and Engineers Geoscientists Manitoba (EGM), with Shopify.

What: “Girl Power,” an initiative aimed at increasing female enrolment in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses during high school.

When & Where: A Shopify-powered website went live this week, and is being supported by pop-up events taking place at high schools throughout Manitoba. There will also be some paid social, with Facebook and Instagram ads targeting Grade 9 girls.


Screen Shot 2020-03-12 at 12.24.02 PM.pngWhy: The goal is to increase female representation in the fields of engineering and geosciences.

Last year, only 17.3% of newly licensed engineers and 33% of newly licensed geoscientists in Manitoba were women, while only 1% identified as Indigenous. EGM’s goal is to ensure that 30% of newly licensed engineers are women by 2030.

How: The program is built around a website aimed at girls ( that includes a list of the high school courses required to pursue a career in engineering or geoscience, and short profiles of groundbreaking women in engineering and geoscience.

The centrepiece is a line of T-shirts representing a particular area of math or science: algebra, chemistry, physics and geometry. The catch is that instead of using cash or credit to pay for the shirts, people have to answer a question printed on the front.

“We’re giving them questions that will challenge them and encourage them to keep taking the courses,” says Laurent Abesdris, partner, creative director at Juliet. “We’re using questions and equations that are challenging in such a way as to ensure that the people who can’t answer them want to, and the people that can, push themselves to [do so]. They’re not easy questions” (yeah, no kidding).

What next: The shirts are only the beginning of where this program could go, says Abesdris. Retail partners have expressed “real interest” in partnering with EGM to make items available to young girls by solving equations. “We’ve got a lot of excited retailers who want to help us do this, so it’s really about figuring out what that looks like and how it rolls out,” he says.

And we quote: “Even though young women are doing incredibly well in life sciences and math [prior to high school], the drop-off in Grade 9 is lopsided. Something in Grade 9 is causing young women to not continue down the path towards STEM… That there’s a key moment in the development of high school students where girls are dropping off and boys aren’t is something we want people to understand.” — Laurent Abesdris, partner, creative director, Juliet


Chris Powell