On January 25 and 26, the eighth annual Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) National Conference will empower, inspire and connect more than 550 science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) students and professionals from across Canada.

The theme of this year’s conference: Lead Without Limits.

“I think women often feel that stereotype or impostor phenomenon may prevent them from assuming the roles that they would like to achieve,” says fourth-year life sciences student and conference chair Amna Majeed. “We want to communicate that together, we can push against these limits and inspire to lead.”

WISE 2020 National Conference chair Amna Majeed. (courtesy: Amna Majeed)

Majeed describes the conference as “the biggest to date.” Speakers include Erika Cheung, known for her role as a whistleblower in the Theranos scandal, Dalhousie University bioethicist Francoise Baylis, and Kristen Facciol (EngSci 0T9), an operations engineer with the Canadian Space Agency.

There will also be case competitions — including a three-minute thesis competition — networking opportunities, and a career fair.

As the conference enters a new decade, Majeed reflects on the changes that have taken place over the past eight years:

“I do think we are making progress in the right direction,” she says. “There are more female engineering students at U of T than there were eight years ago, and we have around 50 per cent female students in most medical schools within Canada.”

“On the other hand, it seems that that this representation does not always extend to the industry. One of our goals in WISE is to raise awareness about this discrepancy, the reasons for which it exists, and how to effectively combat this type of underrepresentation.”

Leading up to the conference, Majeed says she feels both excited and nervous.

“Our team has been working incredibly hard in planning every aspect of this event,” she says. “There will be nothing more rewarding than for us to know that the delegates attending had a good time. We look forward to seeing everyone there!”

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