Our Women in STEM

February 12, 2024

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February 11th marked the International Day for Women and Girls in STEM, and we’re thrilled to showcase some remarkable women in STEM at Data Sciences. We sat down with Jenn, Tayrine, Fatima, and Yujie to delve into their experiences in the world of science.

Jenn Marton, Ph.D.

A woman with glasses posing in front of a brick wall.

Jenn holds a Ph.D. in Human Genetics from McGill University. She is our Vice President of Data and Analytics at Data Sciences.

What made you want to pursue a STEM career?

When I was young, I always scored well in maths and science classes. My parents were pushing me to become a doctor, so health sciences seemed a logical next step. In my last year as an undergrad, I completed an honours project that introduced me to the world of academic research. I fell in love. With the freedom to pursue new ideas and hypotheses. With learning new techniques. With breaking down complicated problems into logical steps. With brainstorms. With collaboration. And with the camaraderie that accompanies young people working toward a common goal. When I graduated from my PhD, I was ready for a new challenge but I was also hesitant to leave the world I had known for 7 years. Luckily, in DS, I’ve found a new group of people who are just as curious, willing to brainstorm, and excited about challenges. I’m pushed to learn something new every day, and that’s why I continue to love working in STEM.

What is your hope for girls hoping to pursue a career in STEM?

I hope that, like me, they find a supportive environment where they are free to pursue their curiosities, to learn, and to grow, with mentors who are patient and who acknowledge their contributions.

Tayrine Dos Santos, Ph.D.

A woman with glasses posing in front of a wooden wall.

Tayrine holds a Ph.D. in Information and Knowledge Society from the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya in Spain. She is a Research Analyst on the Insights team at Data Sciences.

What made you want to pursue a STEM career?

From a young age, I always loved puzzles, cracking challenges, and understanding the world around me. In school, I loved both biology and social sciences.

In university, I decided to major in Political Science but then became drawn to research. Although quantitative Research was associated with a steep learning curve, I knew I wanted to manage and analyze data to understand the current social and political challenges we face. The possibilities seemed endless with more open data available and the huge amount of data we produce online. My next step was to start my programming journey and I’m glad I took that plunge!

What is your hope for girls hoping to pursue a career in STEM?

I hope girls get a chance to ask questions, to be curious, and to know that it is okay to make mistakes and fail. It’s key to have both opportunities to combine learning and playing to demystify STEM for girls, alongside supporting them so that they have the confidence to pursue a STEM career.

Fatima Zohra Smaili, Ph.D.

A woman smiling, posing in front of a brick wall.

Fatima Smaili holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from KAUST (King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia) and is a Data Scientist at DS.

What made you want to pursue a STEM career?

My passion for algorithms and problem-solving drew me to pursue a STEM career, especially data sciences. My journey into programming started in middle school when I was introduced to Logo (a language that used a turtle graphic to create intricate geographic shapes). Since then, I’ve been fascinated by the world of coding and algorithmic thinking. I resonated with the challenges of solving complex problems through logical and systematic approaches. This love for algorithms steered me towards the exciting and ever-evolving field of data sciences.

What is your hope for girls hoping to pursue a career in STEM?

I hope girls can approach the field with confidence and resilience. It’s essential for them not to be intimidated by a historically male-dominated industry and to recognize their own potential for success. By fostering self-belief, embracing challenges as opportunities for growth, and seeking support from mentors and communities, these young girls can pave the way for a future where diversity and innovation thrive in STEM. I envision a world where every girl feels empowered to explore her passion for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, breaking down barriers and inspiring the next generation of pioneers in STEM fields.

Yujie Zhang, Ph.D.

A woman wearing a white, posing in front of a beige background.

Yujie, a Data Scientist at DS holds a Ph.D. in Biochemical Engineering from Western University.

What made you want to pursue a STEM career?

My path into STEM, particularly engineering, was a gradual yet unwavering journey that spanned from my undergraduate years to my Ph.D. The allure of STEM for me lies in the entire lifecycle of problem-solving – from identifying issues to brainstorming solutions and, ultimately, resolving them. During my studies, I discovered that this process fills me with joy and excitement. Each project is a testament to the practicality and transformative power of STEM. The realization that science and technology are the fertile grounds for practical application and hold immense potential has been particularly inspiring. The entire process, from conceptualization to the tangible impact of my work, has instilled in me a profound sense of accomplishment. It’s this ability to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world scenarios and witness the tangible benefits that solidified my passion for engineering and my commitment to the STEM field.

What is your hope for girls hoping to pursue a career in STEM?

To the young girls aspiring to venture into STEM, I would say: hold firm to your convictions and persist in your endeavours. Believe that you can be the girl you wish to be, and know that no goal is too ambitious. Choosing a career in STEM is not just a wise decision; it’s a visionary one. I hope your journey through learning and professional development is filled with joy, fulfillment, and a relentless thirst for knowledge. It’s a path that, while undoubtedly marked with challenges and obstacles, is also replete with opportunities and triumphs. Don’t be deterred by the hurdles you encounter; you are not alone. A multitude of women in STEM, myself included, are with you, supporting you, and standing alongside you. We are a collective force, advocating for each other and paving the way for future generations of women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. So, embark on this journey with courage and enthusiasm, knowing that your path in STEM is not just a career choice — it’s a commitment to being part of a community that is shaping the future.