Girls learn to build career with newspaper
Brianna, from Spruce Glen Public School, and Jordyn, from Irwin Memorial School, work with their group at the Sportsplex on Thursday to build the tallest tower out of newspaper, tape and string. Brianna, who wants to work in criminal justice and Jordyn, who wants to be a biologist participated in Open Doors, an event to encourage girls to take math and science in high school and to follow their career dreams. (Photo by Jennifer Bowman)
It may look like playtime but it’s a discreet project to pique girls’ interest in math and science.
Skeletons and firefighter equipment are table centrepieces, dream catchers and colourful posters line the walls, two large cakes wait to be devoured at the back of the room, and newspapers, tape and string litter the floor of the Bracebridge Sportsplex on Thursday as 145 Grade 7 and 8 girls from across Muskoka compete to build the highest free-standing tower.
It’s Open Doors, a one-day event to encourage girls to take math and science in high school to increase their career opportunities. This year it coincidentally took place on the same day as Person’s Day, the anniversary of the day women acquired the right to be appointed or elected as prime minister on October 18, 1929.
“What we’re trying to do is show the girls there is a life beyond just being a secretary (or) nurse,” Daglish said. “I couldn’t have dreamed of some of these careers when I was a young girl going through school.”
Throughout the day the girls meet with seven local role models — professional women in a variety of careers — which includes a firefighter, massage therapist, wildlife biologist, pastry chef, electrician, mechanic, mortgage manager and many others who talk to the girls about their work and tell them they will probably have six different careers in their life.
“There’s a lot of people in Muskoka who don’t see a career out there for them. They see it as a small community, they see it as not many opportunities,” Daglish said.
Mary Storey, a Gravenhurst resident, was the founder of the idea 11 years ago when a friend came up from Toronto to talk to a women’s group about non-traditional careers for women.
“There was a huge need for our young women in Muskoka to be introduced to non-traditional careers and to share with them the idea of staying in school and opening the doors to different careers,” Storey said.
Since then the school board embraced the small idea and it now draws girls from all over Muskoka.
Up to eight girls from each of 18 schools in the area attend the event each year. Those who are specifically targeted include girls who don’t have a woman role model, don’t have a direction for a career, girls who have no desire to stay in math and science classes, and those who need a little boost to stay in school.
“We can always tell at Grade 7 and 8 that they might want to drop out of school when they get to be 16,” said Storey, who has worked in education.
There were also girls at the event who are attentive, know what they want to do and love math and science.
Jenna, a student from Irwin Memorial Public School and a cadet, is very involved with building the tower — rolling newspaper, holding things in place, taping, trying to work out the best idea. Her eyes lit up when she was asked if she likes maths and sciences.
“I want to possibly be a lawyer or a military medic,” she said.
Hannah, from Bracebridge Public School, was looking forward to the day, but she’s not looking at a heavy science or math career. At first she said she doesn’t know what she wants to be, but then changed her mind.
“I want to be in animation,” she said.
Organizers said it’s hard to measure the results, but consider the joyous chatter and energy on the bus ride back to school a positive result. They’re also happy when they hear of girls continuing in the maths and sciences in high school.
“If I was doing it for boys, I would be telling them to stay with the English, but with the girls it’s the science and math,” Daglish said.