Mini-Science 2018: Women in science at McGill (and beyond)

Mini-Science 2018 logoAbout our logo: Sandra Klemet-N'Guessan is a McGill undergrad studying Biology and Natural History. She is currently experimenting with dispersal evolution using bacteria as a model organism in the Hargreaves lab. Born to a French and Tunisian mother and to an Ivorian father, Sandra lived in various countries in Africa, as well as in Europe and North America. Sandra shares her experience as a cross-cultural kid and as a woman for the #stemmDiversity @ McGill initiative of the Redpath Museum.

This year's Mini-Science presents a unique seven-week public lecture series featuring some of McGill’s outstanding women biologists, chemists, geographers, geologists, and even a historian of science! 2018 allows us to focus on how women scientists have worked with and for science at the University since the first class of six women were taught in 1884.

Mini-Science will take place over seven Wednesday evenings, from February 28 to April 18, 2018. (There is no lecture on March 7.)

Lectures will be presented in English mais nous vous invitons à poser vos questions en français.

This Mini-Science series is made possible through the generous support of Dr. Lorne Trottier.

Schedule and speakers

Elsbeth Heaman and Suzanne Fortier

February 28: History of Women in Science @McGill.

Prof. Elsbeth Heaman, Dept. of History & Classical Studies & Interim Director, McGill Institute for the Study of Canada
with Principal Suzanne Fortier
Moderated by Ingrid Birker, Science Outreach Administrator

Readings and links

Here are readings about some McGill women trailblazers:


YouTube video


March 7: No lecture. (Reading week)

Tracy Webb

March 14: Physics, astrophysics and women @McGill.

Prof. Tracy Webb, Department of Physics
Moderated by Anila Asghar, Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies (Faculty of Education)

Readings and links

Title: Who Am I versus Who Can I Become? Exploring Women's Science Identities in STEM Ph.D. Programs
Authors: Szelenyi, K (Szelenyi, Katalin); Bresonis, K (Bresonis, Kate); Mars, MM (Mars, Matthew M.)
Source: REVIEW OF HIGHER EDUCATION. Volume: 40. Issue: 1. Pages: 1-31
DOI: 10.1353/rhe.2016.0036
Published: FALL 2016
Abstract: This article explores the science identities of 21 women STEM Ph.D. students at three research universities in the United States and the findings depict five salient science identities, including those of a) academic, b) entrepreneurial, c) industrial, and d) policy scientist and e) scientist as community educator.
ISSN: 01625748
eISSN: 10907009

Title: But You Don't Look Like A Scientist!: Women Scientists with Feminine Appearance are Deemed Less Likely to be Scientists
Authors: Banchefsky, S (Banchefsky, Sarah); Westfall, J (Westfall, Jacob); Park, B (Park, Bernadette); Judd, CM (Judd, Charles M.)
Source: SEX ROLES. Volume: 75. Issue: 34.
Pages: 95-109
DOI: 10.1007/s11199-016-0586-1
Published: AUG 2016
Abstract: These two studies examined whether subtle variations in feminine appearance erroneously convey a woman's likelihood of being a scientist.
ISSN: 03600025
eISSN: 15732762

Title: Are Female STEM Majors Academic Risk Takers?
Authors: Beziat, TLR (Beziat, Tara L. R.); McCombs, KM (McCombs, Kristin M.); Burks, BA (Burks, Brooke A.); Byrom, J (Byrom, Jennifer)
Book Authors: Thomas, U (Thomas, U); Drake, J (Drake, J)
Source: CRITICAL RESEARCH ON SEXISM AND RACISM IN STEM FIELDS Book Series: Advances in Religious and Cultural Studies
Book Series Pages: 144-152
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0174-9.ch008
Published: 2016
Abstract: This project examined differences in academic risk taking between STEM and non STEM female students.
ISSN: 2475675X
eISSN: 24756768
ISBN: 9781522501756; 9781522501749
Book DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0174-9


YouTube video


March 21: Doing chemistry as a woman.

Prof. Audrey Moores, Department of Chemistry
Moderated by Heather McShane, Program director and Catalyst-in-chief McGill Sustainability Systems Initiative (MSSI)

Readings and links

Author(s): Doyle-Scharff, M (Doyle-Scharff, Maureen); Conley, VM (Conley, Valerie Martin)
Book Author(s): Howley, AA (Howley, AA); Trube, MB (Trube, MB)
Book Series: Mentoring Perspectives
Pages: 243-258
Published: 2015
Abstract: This chapter describes several mentoring programs for women STEM faculty, including those at Brown University, the University of Rhode Island, and the University of Miami. It also describes more extensive efforts to address the career advancement interests of female faculty, particularly those who aspire to leadership positions.
ISBN: 9781623968359; 9781623968366

Title: Mentoring for women starting a PhD: a "free zone" into academic identity
Author(s): Stroude, A (Stroude, Aurianne); Bellier-Teichmann, T (Bellier-Teichmann, Tanja); Cantero, O (Cantero, Odile); Dasoki, N (Dasoki, Nora); Kaeser, L (Kaeser, Laure); Ronca, M (Ronca, Miriam); Morin, D (Morin, Diane)
DOI: 10.1108/IJMCE-06-2014-0019.
Published: 2015
Abstract: The paper reports the results of a "starting up" program for women in French speaking Switzerland. This study is based on the description of a group experience within a university based mentoring scheme offered to women entering in their PhD program in this geographical sector. The qualitative analyses suggest that mentoring can be an effective tool in supporting professional identity development among female doctoral students.
ISSN: 20466854

Title: Framing the Faculty Gender Gap: A View from STEM Doctoral Students
Author(s): Hughes, CC (Hughes, Cayce C.); Schilt, K (Schilt, Kristen); Gorman, BK (Gorman, Bridget K.); Bratter, JL (Bratter, Jenifer L.)
Source: GENDER WORK AND ORGANIZATION. Volume: 24. Issue: 4. Pages: 398-416
DOI: 10.1111/gwao.12174
Published: JUL 2017
Abstract: This paper examined how students make sense of the preponderance of men at the faculty level despite increasing gender parity among students. Students' primary explanatory frame, historical bias, suggests that the gender gap will disappear when enough women attain their PhDs.
ISSN: 09686673
eISSN: 14680432  


YouTube video


Natalya Gomez

March 28: Earth and climate science and women @McGill.

Prof. Natalya Gomez, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences
Moderated by Prof. Olivia Jensen, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences

Readings and links

The Earth Sciences Women's Network is an organization started by a few female professors, now having more than 3000 members worldwide, dedicated to career development, peer mentoring and community building for women in the geosciences. The website includes a resource center where you can search for professional and personal resources geared at a range of audiences (kids, parents, students, academics, people in industry, government and more) on a range of topics.

Faculty Feature: Dr. Natalya Gomez: A short article from McGill’s Sustainability Office sharing Professor Gomez' views on the need for diversity to deal with future climate change.


YouTube video


Brigitte Pientka

April 4: Decoding the gender-gap in computer science @McGill.

Prof. Brigitte Pientka, School of Computer Science
Moderated by Prof. Elizabeth Patitsas, Dept. of Integrated Studies in Education and School of Computer Science

Readings and links

Carol Frieze, Jeria Quesenberry, Elizabeth Kemp and Anthony Velaszquez: "Diversity or Difference? New Research Supports the Case for a Cultural Perspective on Women in Computing." Journal of Science Education and Technology, September, 2011.

Lenore Blum, Carol Frieze, Orit Hazzan and Bernardine Dias: "A Cultural Perspective on Gender Diversity in Computing" in Cathy O'Neil: Weapons of Math Destruction. Crown Random House, 2016

NPR Episode: When Women Stopped Coding 

NPR Episode: He's Brilliant, She's Lovely: Teaching Computers To Be Less Sexist

NPR Episode: Can Computer Programs Be Racist And Sexist?

Matt Reynolds: "Bias test to prevent algorithms discriminating unfairly." New Scientist. NEWS & TECHNOLOGY. 29 March 2017


YouTube video


Elena Bennett

April 11: Women’s role in sustainability science & the environment @McGill.

Prof. Elena Bennett, Department of Natural Resource Sciences & McGill School of Environment
Moderated by Prof. Allison Gonsalves, Department of Integrated Studies in Education

Readings and links


YouTube video


Anna Hargreaves

April 18: Exploring nature's diversity — women and research in biology

Prof. Anna Hargreaves, Department of Biology
Moderated by Heather McShane, Program director and Catalyst-in-chief McGill Sustainability Systems Initiative (MSSI)

Readings and links

The Superwomen in Science Podcast discusses the past, present and future of women in science, highlighting a wide variety of scientific endeavours as well as issues facing women in science. This podcast was produced and hosted by Cordon Purcell and Nicole George, two Canadian graduate students with a passion for promoting women in science.
The podcast aims to highlight a wide variety of different scientific endeavours, ranging from arts research to STEM fields. Each episode will include stories of past women, interviews with current women in science, and opportunities/organizations for future generations. The goal of the podcast is to increase exposure of women in science, as motivation for young women entering scientific fields and to provide a supportive community for current women scientists.

Title: Gender diversity leads to better science
Authors: Mathias Wullum Nielsen, Sharla Alegria, Love Börjeson, Henry Etzkowitz, Holly J. Falk-Krzesinski, Aparna Joshi, Erin Leahey, Laurel Smith-Doerr, Anita Williams Woolley and Londa Schiebinger
Source: PNAS 2017 February, 114 (8) 1740-1742.
Abstract: This opinion piece tells us why it is a good thing to have gender diversity in STEMM.

Title: Women in evolution – highlighting the changing face of evolutionary biology
Authors: Maren Wellenreuther; Sarah Otto
Source: Evol Appl. 2016 January; 9(1): 3–16. Published online 2015 December 19.
Abstract: This upbeat article by Canadian women in evolutionary biology celebrates the outstanding achievements and contributions of women in evolutionary biology, by highlighting a sample of their research and accomplishments. In addition to original research contributions, this collection of articles contains personal reflections to provide perspective and advice on succeeding as a woman in science.


YouTube video


Time and location

  • Seven Wednesday evenings, from February 28 to April 18, 2017
    (There is no lecture on March 7.)
  • 6:00 to 6:30 PM — Registration and refreshments
  • 6:30 to 8:00 PM — Lecture with Q&A
  • All seven lectures take place in one room: the Colgate Room, in Rare Books and Special Collections, 4th floor, McLennan Library Building, 3459 McTavish Street, Montreal, Quebec, H3A 0C9.

Parking and access

  • The closest indoor parking for this series is under the Bronfman Building (Desautels Faculty of Management).
  • The venue is the McLennan Library Building, just across the street, at the corner of McTavish and Sherbrooke Streets.
  • The main entrance to the venue is from the Welcome Centre on the ground floor of the McLennan Library Building. Take the elevator to the 4th Floor of McLennan Library.


Registration is now closed. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis.

  • $114.97 for the series (includes all taxes).
  • $68.98 for seniors 65+ (includes all taxes).
  • $7.00 for all students (includes all taxes).
  • No refunds after February 15, 2018.


  • Lectures will be presented in English mais nous vous invitons à poser vos questions en français.


  • [at] (Send us an email) or
  • Phone us at 514-398-8886