Tuesday, October 14, 2014

WISE conversations with inspiring women

Between chunks of cheese and slices of cake, 25 women swapped career advice at WISE-Ottawa’s opening event at Carleton University on October 1, 2014. First year students mingled with PhDs and industry experts long past 8:00 p.m.

The event began with brief presentations by Judith Lockwood, Gina Courtland and Catherine Lemay about their mentors. For the rest of the night the speakers led informal discussions. Here are their thoughts on some of the topics covered:

Gender discrimination

“Ignore it, and if it’s too much to ignore, go through it,” said Gina. She never paid attention to discrimination. If your workplace is not supportive of women, find one that is.

One of Judith’s mentors had a different view. According to him, women have an advantage because they exactly know what prejudices they will face at work, an advantage many men don’t have.

Jobs in a tough economy

Judith said that today’s job market is much like the one she faced in the 80s; few jobs in science and engineering and no job security.

For job seekers she advised making contacts in your industry, and knowing what you can bring to a company.


Mentorship gives life continuity and direction. Mentors can be supervisors, peers or even family. They don’t need to work in your field, and they don’t even need to be female. “Ironically, I’m coming (to this event) and I don’t have any female mentors” said Judith.

Balancing family and career

Students should consider their priorities before they start their career, advised Catherine. If you want to start a family, look carefully at a job’s benefits such as paid maternity leave and flexible work arrangements. If you value work-life balance, find an employer who does too.


Everyone knows that networking is important, but not everyone likes cocktails and conferences. Networking just means meeting people, any kind of people. Get involved activities that interest you like volunteering or recreational sports. When you do things you’re passionate about, people will see you at your best. You never know who will be able to help you get where you want to go.


“As women, we always want to be liked” said Judith. “You don’t have to like the people you work with, you just have to work with them.”

Reflecting on a mentor who ran an interior design firm, Gina said “She was stylish, she was confident, she was herself.” Gina says women should be risk takers, and even a little bit cocky. “You are strong, so be strong.”

Student Impression
As a student, this event was a great opportunity to speak with women of all ages and interests. It also helped me think about the big picture. For example, what networking can I do at the clubs I already attend? How will children fit into my career path?

It was especially comforting to learn that ours is not the only generation to face a tough economy upon graduating. While it was good to get advice from women well into their careers, I also realized the value of networking with my peers. For example, I was able to connect a computer engineering student to a few of my friends who work in her field. It was a great night and I’m eager to attend future Ottawa WISE events.

Amelia Buchanan is a journalism student at Algonquin College with a bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Ottawa. She’s interested in communicating science to non-scientists. She blogs about urban wildlife at Lab Bench to Park Bench.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Hai! Welcome Back!!!


You’re about three weeks in, but welcome back nonetheless.
Whether this is your first year at Carleton or 10th (no judgment here). We hope that you have a productive yet fun year!

Since I have been here FOREVER, I've complied a list of tips and tricks of the trade (yes I equated being a student to a trade).

1)   Read your course syllabus… Seriously. All the important information is on there and it acts a contract between you and your professor.
2)   Use your TA’s, they’re job is to make sure you are feeling comfortable with the material.
3)   Use your Prof’s office hours. Again, get comfortable asking questions.
4)   Attend class. I know this seems like a no brainer and granted some classes are bruuutaal. Try really hard to show up. Make an effort. I know this goes without saying, but you guys are paying $500+ per course… Seems like a complete waste if you’re not coming to class or using the Prof and TA’s
5)   Keep up with the material. You don’t need to be making an appearance at a house party every night of the week. You do need to make an appearance at the library or an equivalent place to get your shit done.
6)   Don’t compare yourself with anyone. We all know those students….The ones that party all night, don’t show up to class  (or show up only to fall asleep), that start their assignments 1 hr before they are due, and that seem to never open a text book YET the buggers end up with a fantastic mark…
They are not you. Recognize and appreciate how YOU learn. The earlier you do this the less heart ache and potential awful marks you will experience.
7)   Join at least one “social” group (salsa anyone?) and one “academic” group (every department has a society, get involved).

Shameless self plug here, but ahem CU-WISE is both social (who doesn't love cupcake socials and movie nights?) AND  academic (we have smart people come in to talk about smart things) .

                                      We also are changing the world, seriously.

Our outreach efforts over the last 2 years alone has reached more then 600 girls ranging from ages 10 to 18...   #NBD ;)

Our members are the absolute best (not biased at all) and our events are AH-MAZING (again, cupcakes, roller coasters and nonstop giggling, can’t be beat).

8)   Expand your social horizons, get to know people that are your opposites... Makes for fun evenings
9)   Pack food. Campus food is …well... you know...(unless you go to Roosters… They’re all right for certain things). But seriously, pack food or buy granola bars and stuff them in your locker. Nothing is worse then setting down to study and being hungry. It’s cruel and unusual punishment.
10)  Workout. I know I knooooow. “Sweating is sooo awful” (this is the exact statement that my lazy labmate tells me when we workout... but he’s has a lot of issues we need to sort out) Anyway. Find a physical activity you enjoy, tennis, swimming, weights, running (barf), yoga etc. Get moving. No one wants to be out of breath climbing the Uni Center stairs ;)

I hope I see you folks at our upcoming events!!
As always,
Stay fabulous,


Rim is an institution within Carleton (that is to say she has been here for so long that there has been talk to erect a statue in her honour).  Word on the street is that she’s “finishing up” her PhD in Neuroscience (don’t ever get her started on her research, she’s turns into a 12 y/old on a sugar high..it’s terrifying. No one should be that excited about science). She also happens to be the Science Co-Chair CU-WISE (or as she calls it THE BOSS OF ALL THINGS), where she spends her time hustling , planning events, motivating (coughharrasingcough) students and flirting with her Engineering Co-Chair. You will see her around campus (she lives here) please stop her and say hello. She responds well to cookies.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Experience : The Measure of Tomorrow

Daniella was part of a delegation of four CU-WISE members who recently travelled to Toronto to attend the 2014 WISE National Conference. In the next coming weeks you'll get to hear from all the delegates. Here are Daniella's impressions.

UofT WISE hosted its second National Conference on March 22-23 in downtown Toronto. The theme of this year’s conference was “Experience: The Measure of Tomorrow”. The mission was to provide us with inspiration and direction for leading our lives as we embark upon professional careers. [Aren't you excited about the rest of this post? I bet you are!]. For this post, I decided to take you to the Opening Keynote speech given by Kathy Lee

Kathy Lee, President & CEO of GE Capital Canada opened the conference with these words “If you’re not failing enough, are you challenging yourself enough?”. She went on and reminded us that we have to make things happen! Failure is an option but fear is not. [Quite a reminder since I (and maybe you do too) sometimes tend to let fear sit in a corner of my mind, but I’m not renting that space anymore!]. We should have a POSITIVE and CAN DO attitude. 

WISENC14 - Opening Keynote

Now, what are the success factors to effectively gain experience? Her answers were the right environment and the right attitude. 

  • The right environment - You might need several trials but it's about: 
  1. Choosing a workplace you feel involved in
  2. Choosing a workplace you are inspired by

  • The right attitude 
  1. Vision: “The only thing worst than being blind is having sight with no vision” Helen Keller 
  2. Networking: Have Coaches, Role Models, Connections and Sponsors 
  3. Continuous Learning: Never stop learning! 
  4. Risk Taking: “The biggest risk is not taking any risk” Mark Zuckerberg 
  5. Personal Branding: Differentiate yourself. Value what you are good at and have your personal signature. 

Kathy also warned us about the battle that always takes place between our Plan (e.g. I’m going to graduate, have an awesome position, climb the career ladder, have kids by 30…) VS Reality (e.g. You don’t see any career ladder at all. It’s your 30th birthday and you are wondering if the father of your children is lost in another dimension because you have no kids yet). It’s okay if your reality does not match your plan. In fact, nobody has it all figured out and you won’t have all the answers. So, don’t get too attached to your plan and be open to change. We have to learn how to deal with challenges and change. Do not only embrace change, thrive with it! Plus, what we think as failure might not be failure but strength. You learn from every experience you gain and every risk you take. So, be bold, be fierce and be fearless!
Besides, Kathy also recommended to surround ourselves with people who will give good advice (Family, friends, ….)

The President & CEO of GE Capital Canada concluded with these notes : “Keep Calm and Enjoy your Life” and beware  “There’s no such thing as work-life balance. There are work-life choices, and you make them and they have consequences” (Jack Welch) [See this Wall Street Journal article]

I really had a great experience at the WISE National Conference and I hope you appreciated your ride to the opening keynote! 

Stay great,

Daniella is a Master's student in Electrical and Computer Engineering. One of her dreams is to inspire more women to embrace STEM careers and unleash their full potential. Although she is hardworking and can be very serious, she enjoys comedy and dancing, has a big sense of humour, and believes that a little kindness goes a long way!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Gaining Inspiration from Successful Women at the 2014 WISE National Conference

Francisca was part of a delegation of four CU-WISE members who recently traveled to Toronto to attend the 2014 WISE National Conference. In the next coming weeks you'll get to hear from all the delegates. Here are Francisca's impressions.

The returns of a 4-hour train ride along with three other goal oriented ladies as delegates to the Women in Science and Engineering National Conference 2014 hosted by the University of Toronto’s WISE chapter at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, Toronto only proved that indeed nothing is more important in life than experience, and truly it is “The Measure of Tomorrow”. The experiences benefited between the 22-23rd of March only reiterated, the quote “Learn what not to do from the experience of others. It's cheaper than your own” (J. Winter Smith). And for the organisers, know that the purpose of providing the delegates with inspiration and direction for leading our lives as we embark upon our professional careers has totally been fulfilled.

The experiences gained from successful women who have strived against all odds to make an impact in this tidal ocean of voracious challenges, daring obstacles and unmovable barriers has left an indelible mark filling me with invaluable experience. They have painstakingly given their time, shared their experiences with me and now I know.

From Kathy Lee, President and CEO of GE Capital Canada, I have learnt to have a vision, to cultivate good relationships, to strive to continue learning, to be a wise and articulated risk taker, and have a personal brand. I have learnt to devote myself to the next idea, to give myself a year to change, survive and thrive knowing that everything would look similar when I get back. From her experiences, I now know that in the early stages of my career, when I think it is not happening I would only be surprised by how much I have learnt and how many people I know.

From Lesley-Ann Scorgie, a trusted financial advisor and best-selling author of ‘Rich by Thirty’ and ‘Rich by 40’, I have met Oprah Winfrey (Interesting!!!!). I  have learnt how to harness my financial potential by curbing excessive spending, gaining financial literacy, having good money management skills, and being financially independent by saving better, spending wisely only on things that grow in value and most importantly, increasing my income through creative ideas. Now I can follow the right path to being a self-made millionaire.

From Swati Mylavarapu, leading Canadian business growth and development at Square, I know that the term career path is not expected to be a one way street but in some cases even a maze-like road which only keeps on unfolding as I met a corner. I know that only the decision to succeed come what may and make an impact in this world of ours would in the end propel me to greater heights and navigate me through the thick bushes of the fierce career circle.

From Marilyn Mcharg, President and CEO of Dignitas International, I have learnt that investing my time in order to reach out to others just as she gave her time to many souls opening up opportunities to improved health and access to quality treatment is not only the right thing to do but also because its ripple effect travels millions of miles all over the world saving lives. I have realised that rest can only be found when working in saving the lives of people dying day-by-day from terrible diseases cutting short their lifespan untimely.

And then it was time to return. "There was no need to cry because the event was over, rather it was to smile because it happened" Dr. Seuss. Now to me, as all of these women encompassed in my experience bosom deeply rooted in my fragile framework, and knowing that “Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him”  Aldous Huxley, I am back to my lectures, assignment deadlines and research thesis, with a clear goal and vision and new pool of strength to strive beyond whatever limit I had set for myself going beyond borders to explore, impact and most of all have fun as the best , unbeatable and unstoppable female Systems  Engineer the world is yet to meet. My mind once enlightened by this cannot again become dark (Thomas Paine). I am more than I was before.


Francisca F. Adaramola is a Graduate Student in Systems and Computer Engineering at Carleton University. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Celebrate Yourself - A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform!

International Women’s Day is celebrated all over the world on March 8th. This year, the official theme is “Inspiring Change”. March is also the National Engineering Month and the theme of National Engineering Month Ontario 2014 is ‘Make a World of Difference’! [I bet you guessed where I’m going with this! And yes, I’m very excited about being a woman AND in engineering!]

I absolutely love that there is a day dedicated to women, and I couldn't help but write a post. As women, we can make a world of difference by inspiring change for more women in science, engineering, and technology. Every time, I hear girls afraid to embrace STEM careers because they might not be good at it [See myths about girls and science], or because it’s a man’s world [but again as the song says “it would be nothing, nothing without a woman or a girl”], my heart breaks a little. It’s important to close the STEM gender gap [Check out why here]. Here are few 'natural' reasons that show that women have what it takes:
  • Diane MarieChild once said that “A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform”. This is not only valid in the “Carrying babies” context. It also applies to a plethora of domains. Engineering is about creating, designing, transforming what was before into greater things for the humanity welfare. So, ladies … Engineering might turn out to be more natural to us than we think.
  • Engineering is about using scientific knowledge to solve problems. I find it fantastic to solve problems on a regular basis in a way that might change people's lives [It’s almost like being a superhero]. Again, women also have problem solving skills and love to help others.
  • Women’s brains do not freeze when they encounter equations or complex mathematical tables and formulas. Here are graphs that refute the idea that women are bad at Math.
  • I could go on and on with arguments but today is about celebrating Women in Science and Engineering! 
Why is it essential to do so? Because as Women in Science and Engineering, we are going against the stereotypes. We are also the ones responsible of changing implicit biases [Read Natalie’s blog post and this chapter]. Recent studies indicate that people don’t think implicitly of females being associated with STEM related careers when compared to other careers such as teacher, secretary, etc. These unconscious beliefs or implicit biases may be more powerful than explicitly held beliefs and values simply because we are not aware of them. We need to remind ourselves [yes, sometimes we hold ourselves back!] and the society that women have a lot to offer and their potential can't be reduced to just sitting and being pretty. As Nancy Rathburn said “A strong woman understands that the gifts such as logic, decisiveness, and strength are just as feminine as intuition and emotional connection. She values and uses all of her gifts.”

CU-WISE is celebrating you!

Being present, leaning in and talking about our experiences as Women in STEM are ways to change these biases and have more girls embrace STEM! We are creating, nurturing and transforming the image of Women in STEM.
So Celebrate Yourself!!! You are inspiring change and making a world of difference!

Stay great,

Daniella is a Master's student in Electrical and Computer Engineering. One of her dreams is to inspire more women to embrace STEM careers and unleash their full potential. Although she is hardworking and can be very serious, she enjoys comedy and dancing, has a big sense of humour, and believes that a little kindness goes a long way!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

2014 - Retrospective and Resolution

A brand new year is upon us! I thought it would only be fitting to write a retrospective post on how my CU-WISE experience has gone in 2013. [Yes, I’m the kind of person who does retrospectives, looks back on events, tracks opportunities for improvements and celebrates achievements!]. So, ladies and gentlemen fasten your seat belts, we are about to time travel!!! 

It all started in September 2013! I was new at Carleton and looking for some extra curricular activities. I've always been interested in encouraging girls in engineering and couldn't resist when I discovered that CU-WISE was looking for volunteers for the Throwback Kids Activities. I met wonderful ladies who volunteered as well and the experience was quite memorable. It’s outstanding how little kids can remind you all you love about what you do, and re-sparkle your interest. I was in charge of the Snap Circuits activity [By the way, I still can’t believe that Santa never got me one of those electronic snap circuits!] which is a great and fun way to learn about electronics and get a working project (From adjustable light control to FM Radio).

Testing her flying saucer, Snap Circuits at the Throwback Kids Activities
Go Eng Girl took place shortly after. We had girls in grades 7 to 10 come to learn more about engineering. This event included hands-on design projects.This time, I was leading the Scratch team. Scratch is a tool developed by MIT that uses simple blocks and offers an easy way to learn programming. For this activity, we asked students to implement their own interactive story/game. Again, young minds amazed us with creative ideas and projects.

The girl who amazed us all, SCRATCH at Go ENG Girl 2013

Finally, the Woman in Research Event was held in mid December. The event invites High School girls to hear from Carleton leading female researchers about what inspired them to go into science and engineering. It’s always awesome to volunteer for this kind of event as you might be inspired along the way. And that’s what happened to me! Every speaker made me realize that we are not fully aware of our capabilities and we have to keep going [Keep in mind that doing it right doesn't always feel like it] :

Keynote Speakers, Women In Research Event 2013

  • “Engineering is for everyone!” Dr Cynthia Cruickshank
  • “Education is important and it’s an investment in you!” Natalie Linklater
  • “I didn’t know that I had that capability! You have to tell yourself that you can do it.” Dr Winnie Ye

The point : All the presenters turned out to be just as human as you and me! They all faced struggles, doubts and setbacks but kept going and achieved the amazing results that you can read on each biography!

Along the way, I became more than a volunteer and joined the WISE team. 
So, if you are looking for a resolution for 2014, volunteering for WISE might be a great one! Imagine the university becoming a place where you can inspire, be inspired and leave a legacy… How awesome would it be? 

Happy New Year!

Stay great,

Daniella is a Master's student in Electrical and Computer Engineering. One of her dreams is to inspire more women to embrace STEM careers and unleash their full potential. Although she is hardworking and can be very serious, she enjoys comedy and dancing, has a big sense of humour, and believes that a little kindness goes a long way!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The power of Thoughts: You can do anything you set set your mind to!

I recently attended a lecture on the power of thoughts and I was literally floored [Feels awesome when you have tons of projects]! It’s a subject near and dear to me because it can be life changing. Now, you may already know that you should care about your self-talk. Let me tell you why it’s important, especially for women in science and engineering.

Few weeks ago, Sheryl Sandberg shared at the CBS This Morning show that "The data says that stereotypes hold us [women] back. The reason girls don't think they're good in math and science is because everyone tells them they're not good at science. Studies show that if right before a math test you tell girls, 'Girls are good at math' or 'Girls do well on the test,' they do better." Of course, people are not always available to tell you how awesome you are and how great you are going to do! That’s why you need to help yourself [and those around you]: Tap your back and convince your wonderful mind that you can do it [exams, projects, whatever awesome dream you have]! You will be amazed at the results.

Back on my lecture about “The Power Thoughts”, the professor - a well-known engineer - showed us how thoughts are converted to chemical, physiological actions and reactions. The next experiment perfectly proved how thoughts can induce a chemical reaction:
  •  Think about a lemon - a sour candy - a green lime
  •  Imagine cutting a wedge of lemon or lime
  •  Imagine smelling the lemon or lime
  •  Take the wedge of the lemon and put it in your mouth.
  •  Chew the wedge of the lemon - the very sour juice of the lemon now comes into your mouth and stimulates your taste buds
  •  Concentrate - close your eyes and don’t block your thoughts - make it a reality for yourself.
  • You will notice that your mouth became more watery. Salivary glands have responded to the sour taste of the lemon/lime thoughts. QED!

Don’t let that impostor syndrome fool you! Shut “anti-self” thoughts and shine bright. Success begins in your mind! So, next time negative thoughts creep in your mind, remind yourself (yes, you!) that you are awesome, smart and ready to rock the world!

Stay great!

P.S.: Just because I love quotes, here is a related to today’s topic:

For more:

Check out this blog about the power of choosing your thoughts: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-firestone/choosing-your-thoughts_b_3461686.html

Also watch the following TED talk to find out how your power posing can boost your confidence. It might help you if you feel nervous every time you have a presentation or an interview ;-) http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are.html

Daniella is a Master's student in Electrical and Computer Engineering. One of her dreams is to inspire more women to embrace STEM careers and unleash their full potential. Although she is hardworking and can be very serious, she enjoys comedy and dancing, has a big sense of humour, and believes that a little kindness goes a long way!