When women are educated, their countries become strong and prosperous.
– First Lady Michelle Obama
Our team of expert Canadian educators is the cornerstone of the academic excellence the Maple Bear program is known for.
In honour of International Women’s Day, we decided to take a closer look within our own Maple Bear Global Faculty for outstanding female educators who have a passion for science.
At the moment, careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) are expected to increase in demand. The occupations in these areas are the drivers behind the rapid changes we can expect in the future, as we enter into what is being called the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
But the need for women in these jobs continues to be a challenge. Despite the fact that women make up half of the world’s population, they are still underrepresented in this sector. There is a desperate shortage of skills in most technological fields driving the economy today. Yet, according to the United Nations, women still only account for 28% of engineering graduates and 40% of computer science grads, for example.
We asked two Maple Bear high school curriculum writers, Saundra Lubkey and Jennifer Piasecki, to share their stories, their insights and their view on being women in a typically male-dominated sector.
THE JOURNEY TO EDUCATION IN STEAM
Both of their journeys to becoming STEAM educators began when they realized that science and math were subjects that resonated with them as young students in high school.
“I always enjoyed science and math courses as a student, and so when I decided that I wanted to become a teacher, those were my logical choices,” says Saundra.
As a tutor to fellow students in high school, it became obvious to Jennifer that teaching science was in her future. She really enjoyed teaching and the sense of satisfaction when a concept clicked or neurons were visibly fired in the minds of her students.
Once they completed their Bachelor of Education, Saundra and Jennifer started working in Winnipeg high schools as science teachers in the early 90s. Lucky for them, there was a good representation of female STEAM teachers at their workplace.
But this was not always the case.
Jennifer remarked, “In three years of high school, I only had one female math or science teacher. Representation is important. Students need to see all possible careers as being available to them.”
Representation is important. Students need to see all possible careers as being available to them.
– Jennifer Piasecki, Maple Bear High School Curriculum Writer
For a time, Jennifer and Saundra even taught at the same high school. Today, they both have the privilege of teaching girls in Grade 10, 11 and 12 who are dedicated and passionate about science.
And they both have moments of pride when their hard work as teachers results in promising, encouraging moments.
Jennifer said, “Helping my students see the applications of the concepts and gain confidence is extremely rewarding. And seeing them succeed in careers in medicine, engineering and science is a fantastic feeling.”
Seeing my students, girls and boys, succeed in careers in medicine, engineering and science is a fantastic feeling.
– Saundra Lubkey, Maple Bear High School Curriculum Writer
Saundra’s motivation to keep teaching is fired up when groups of students spend their lunch hour with her or ask to chat about classwork, about choosing high school or university courses, or about what is possible in STEAM careers in general.
“Working with young people is like nothing else. Watching them grow and mature from grade 9 to 12 is amazing. And having the opportunity to help shape or guide that growth is really wonderful. I enjoy it when they come back and share their experiences out in the world. It’s very exciting to see where they all end up!” says Saundra.
THE MAPLE BEAR STEAM DREAM TEAM
Since the fall of 2020, Saundra and Jennifer have been assigned with writing the Physics 11 curriculum for the Maple Bear high school program.
Working together on the Maple Bear curriculum, in particular during the pandemic has been a rewarding experience for them both.
Jennifer said, “Working with Saundra has been a highlight. During the pandemic, we met every week, and it was nice to be able to talk about teaching physics and come up with what we hope is an interesting and challenging curriculum.”
Saundra shared a similar experience, expressing gratitude for working with her friend on the physics curriculum during COVID.
“While we were building the curriculum, planning lessons and designing materials, I found it really helpful to have the chance to talk through and compare practices and ways of approaching topics with Jennifer. Thinking about what the teacher can do to create the conditions for student learning is really motivating. I think that working as a Maple Bear curriculum writer has given my teaching a boost and made me a better teacher.”
These two truly make up an amazing Maple Bear STEAM Dream Team!
I think working as a Maple Bear curriculum writer has given my teaching a boost and made me a better teacher.
– Saundra Lubkey, Maple Bear High School Curriculum Writer
EVERYONE SHOULD BENEFIT FROM STEAM OPPORTUNITIES
As a female STEAM educator, Saundra believes the ultimate goal is to have the systems and resources in place so all students can benefit from the opportunities science education can provide.
“I think that schools, parents and society as a whole have recognized that it’s the experiences we provide to young people that open their eyes to learning in science, technology and mathematics. You can’t be interested in a subject that you haven’t been exposed to. Let’s give all of our students – female, male, every colour, rich or poor – as many opportunities as possible to explore science, to work with technology, to experiment and to get curious about a topic.”
And Jennifer offers these words of advice to girls in high school considering STEAM:
“Women in science can win Nobel prizes, design award-winning telescopes and lead teams of scientists in cutting edge research. All possible careers are open to them, and they should try to find something that would both challenge and stimulate them.”
All possible careers are open to girls. My advice would be that they should try to find something that would both challenge and stimulate them.
Jennifer Piasecki, Maple Bear High School Curriculum Writer
Our faculty members are the spokes in the Maple Bear wheel and we are proud to share their stories and experiences as women educators in STEAM.
Maple Bear Global thanks Saundra and Jennifer for sharing their insights with us. We are reassured knowing the future generation of science students are in the hands of this STEAM Dream Team.