STEM Learning Is for Life, And For Everyone

Doina Oncel, CEO and founder of hErVolution, discusses her inspiration for creating an organization that promotes STEM for girls and young women.  

If being a student were a career, I would personally “work” overtime with no expectation of overpayment because I believe that the value that I would get from my studies would be far more valuable than the money received.

As a mother of two knowledge-craving daughters, I find it disturbing, for lack of a better word, to see that they are not exposed to critical thinking studies at school and that the media doesn’t help either. Having been involved in researching issues around women in STEM, I feel that the generation that is ready to blossom has little to hope for. Between Gangnam Style and the Harlem Shake, what else is there to look forward to?

It takes people who think outside the box to come up with ideas that spark an interest in learning about other areas of life that are not so “popular.” The fact that children do not have equal opportunities in traditional institutions, and that girls are taught that they are not capable of learning in the same way as boys, leads me to think that we are setting our future generations of up to fail.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Girls need equal opportunities to learn in an environment that is welcoming and non-sexist. Our generation, which has been there and done that, needs to make themselves available to the younger generation of women to pass on information that was already studied and researched, while allowing girls to be innovative and revolutionary in their thinking. Innovation and access to forward-thinking culture must become the norm in a girl’s world, in order for our society to grow.  The plan of action that needs to be taken is not divide and conquer, but unite and give a hand to all involved in making a difference. By supporting mentors and a non- traditional education system, we will support a movement that we are all waiting for-STEM education for all.

The question remains: How do we do this?

  • As far as institutions and future work forces are concerned, a lot of energy must be invested into writing STEM materials with gender-neutral language.
  • We must increase the visibility of women in general culture of STEM, as well as in the media.
  • Institutions, both non-traditional and mainstream, must expose girls to innovation, and encourage them to take on challenges that are not gender-biased.
  • We must avoid the message that STEM is a male-dominated industry, which implies that it isn’t accessible or interesting to girls.
  • We must look to the past and highlight the female trailblazers who have opened doors for the younger generation.
  • We must focus on giving opportunities to raw talent, regardless of gender.

Doina Oncel is the founder of Doina’s Infinite Solutions, a Social Media agency located in Toronto; the CEO and Founder of hEr VOLUTION, a nonprofit agency assisting women and young girls with access to STEM based education and employment opportunities; and she is the leader of Women’s Business Club, supporting women who are in business or thinking of starting one.  Doina is an avid advocate for good deeds hence why she is contributing to The Canadian Daily featuring great Canadians doing great work. She also contributes for Huffington Post,  posting information on her research concerning women in STEM issues. She also speaks on a variety of issues relating to women’s rights, including access or lack thereof to women in STEM.