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TechGyrls: Two-Spirit, Cis and Trans Girls, Non- Binary Youth in STEM Learning

About the Project
Research shows that girls, non-binary and two-spirit youth as young as 8 and 9 years of age begin to internalize messages that their appearance is more important than their knowledge and abilities, and so start to refocus their attention away from academics.

In childhood and adolescence, masculine stereotypes about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) parents’ expectations, peer norms, and lack of fit with personal goals make girls shift away from STEM fields. When combined with predominant messaging across our social/cultural landscape, it’s no wonder that we see a lack of representation of cis and trans women, non-binary and two-spirit people in STEM. From August 2022 to March 2023, YWCA’s TechGyrls program hopes to start changing that, to show girls and gender diverse youth that a future looks like them.

YWCA Canada’s TechGyrls project aims to improve the mental well-being, community connections, essential skills, access to technology and education outcomes for 105 girls and gender diverse youth between the ages of 9 and 13 from communities across three provinces. YWCA Canada has partnered with YWCA Cambridge, YWCA Hamilton, YWCA Niagara Region, YWCA Toronto, YWCA Moncton and YWCA St. John’s to meet the following objectives:

  • Build educational aspirations and resiliency in girls and gender-diverse youth from under-served communities through hands-on activities and engagement in STEM learning opportunities, and access to role models and mentors within STEM industries;
  • Foster a strong sense of community and connection among participants to bolster mental wellness and wellbeing;
  • Increase the confidence and capacity of participants to see themselves as capable of attaining both immediate academic success and future educational attainment through the provision of hands-on sessions in a supportive, affirming, trauma-informed and participant-led environment;
  • Build essential skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, grit, flexibility, teamwork, creativity, determination, collaboration and communication;
  • Improve participant access to technology using laptops, tablets, and opportunities to create with coding, design, and scientific equipment to support program accessibility, increase digital literacy, enable high-quality learning experiences, and ensure meaningful exposure to STEM education;
  • Increase the capacity of 6 YWCAs in at least 3 provinces to deliver STEM programming for girls and gender diverse students.

The program runs every Thursday from 3:00pm – 5:30pm; May 4th to June 22nd, 2023 at the Putman YWCA at 52 Ottawa Street North.

For more information about TechGyrls, please contact Rhiannon Agostinho-Cleary at ragostinhocleary@ywcahamilton.org

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