Our vision for the future of STEM
What we do, and why we do it
Hi! My name is Cassidy, and I’m the Executive Director here at Pulsar Collective. Pulsar started back in 2018 at uOttawa as an idea to host a small series of fun STEM workshops for gender-diverse high school students. Things have changed quite a bit since then – we’ve reached hundreds of students, became a federal nonprofit, grown our amazing team exponentially, and we’re currently preparing to expand to other universities. While it has been a big learning curve, I couldn’t be more proud of what our team has accomplished.
What hasn’t changed is our core mission – improving gender equality in STEM. I was a biology major during my undergrad, and interestingly, my classes tended to have pretty equal gender representation. This is probably in no small part thanks to the many organizations out there that have focused on getting young girls ‘interested’ in STEM within the last several decades. There is no longer quite the same level of stigma attached to pursuing a STEM degree as there used to be, and there are a lot of resources out there now to nurture that curiosity at a young age. It was obvious to me that my gender-diverse colleagues in my lecture halls were just as excited, curious, and passionate about STEM as anyone. So who needs gender equality initiatives, right?
Unfortunately, getting marginalized groups ‘through the door’ is the only the beginning of the equation – and some fields (engineering, physics…) aren’t even achieving that. Discrimination is still unfortunately rampant in STEM, and I’ve seen it and experienced it firsthand. This pushes amazing scholars out of STEM at alarming rates. You may have seen this referred to as the ‘leaky pipeline’; getting people into a STEM undergraduate degree is not the same thing as cultivating their talents and building a fulfilling career. A critical component of patching the pipeline is to provide representation and mentorship, both of which are tremendously important to feeling included and valued in your field – especially in STEM, where the path is sometimes deliberately convoluted to promote competition. That’s where we come in. We don’t teach STEM skills in our programs; rather, our mission is to cultivate connections and community in STEM.
The future of STEM is one where everyone, of all genders (and no, it is not only cisgender women that experience gender-based discrimination) has a truly equal chance to succeed. We’re not there yet, but we think we’re not too far away from it. If that sounds possible to you, I’d invite you to get in touch and help us to make it happen. 🚀