Tools and talent: Promising career paths and helpful resources for newcomer women in STEM
Published February 1, 2022.
Windmill Microlending talks with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)-educated immigrant professionals and other experts about the most promising career paths and supports to explore for those looking to launch their STEM careers in Canada
According to the annual Narwhal List, which looks at more than 1,000 Canadian technology companies to determine which can scale to a “world-class,” level, Canada is home to some prominent tech organizations – like Hootsuite, Wealthsimple, ecobee and Clio. This list doesn’t even include some of the more established tech giants like Shopify or RBC – global players in e-commerce and fintech, respectively. Nor does it account for the critical roles government and academia play in advancing science and technology innovation in this country.
Career advancement opportunities can be promising for STEM trained newcomers to Canada. But the challenges to accessing these opportunities are well-documented, ranging from a lack of recognition of international education credentials and experience to limitations on advancement and growth opportunities. Skilled newcomer women face additional barriers including lower earnings and lesser representation in STEM fields.
Windmill Microlending sought out STEM professionals with lived experience and STEM career development expertise to offer their advice to skilled immigrants and refugees, particularly STEM-trained newcomer women, about the most promising career paths and helpful supports on their journey to join the STEM workforce in Canada.
Promising STEM careers
Jasmine Shaw, a professional engineer and entrepreneur, based in Ottawa, runs a career coaching business dedicated to helping young women in STEM achieve their full potential. She works with many STEM-educated immigrant clients and sees promise in a number of STEM fields currently receiving funding from the federal government through its Superclusters initiative.
“The federal government is investing in several industries to build a stronger economy,” says Shaw. “These include digital technology such as virtual/augmented reality, data analytics and quantum computing; agriculture, specifically plant protein; advanced manufacturing (machine learning and 3D printing); intelligent supply chain (artificial intelligence, supply chain technology, information and communication technology); and ocean technology (marine renewable energy, digital sensors and monitoring). Any one of these industries would be a fantastic opportunity for newcomer women to gain exciting and relevant experience across a variety of STEM fields.”
Clotilde Ribaut, a PhD and Administrator of the International Research Program at the University of Ottawa, arrived as a newcomer in Canada in 2018. She says the opportunities to work with the Canadian government are plentiful for STEM-educated women.
“If you are new in Canada and have a STEM degree, you should look into opportunities with the federal government,” says Ribaut. “More agencies are offering opportunities to women. There’s always work and the chance to thrive. Your international experience can be valuable and differentiate you from [other] Canadian candidates. But be careful. Applying to the government requires the use of specific language. If possible, find someone with government experience to support your candidacy and application.”
Resources and organizations to support you on your STEM career journey
Shaw, Ribaut and others, including Romina Baretto, a PhD candidate in Neurobiology, originally from Uruguay and now residing in Quebec City, discussed the value and importance of building your network as a newcomer in Canada. Baretto and Ribaut are members of Immigrant & International Women in Science (IWS Network), which aims to build professional networks and share resources among newcomer women in STEM across the country.
“Knowledge and experience are being shared, women are speaking out, we are learning every single day [from each other],” says Baretto. “We are building a supportive community.”
Other support organizations and resources they highlighted include:
ACCES Employment – Women in Technology program (Ontario permanent residents only)
EngineerHere.ca (Career resources provided by Engineers Canada in multiple language)
Lighthouse Labs (STEM reskilling and upskilling program and Windmill partner)
Lotus STEMM (Focusing on South Asian women)