An act of kindness three decades ago ignited Kara Strickland’s fascination of science.
“My aunt gave me a second-hand computer when I was in primary school and that gift sparked my interest in computers,” said Ms. Strickland, intellectual property officer with the Technology Transfer and Commercialization Office, a unit within the vice-president (research) portfolio.
Her curiosity continues today. For the past couple of years, Ms. Strickland has volunteered with groups aimed at encouraging more young girls to get involved with science and coding.
“I am a volunteer with Canada Learning Code and am the St. John’s chapter lead for Teacher’s Learning Code,” she told the Gazette. “The organization helps develop digital skills for all Canadians, but with a focus on women, girls, people with disabilities, Indigenous youth and newcomers.”
“For females interested in coding, it is important to see role models, feel empowered and find new ways to exhibit creativity.”
Working with other volunteers, she helps plan and facilitate monthly events that provide training in coding and digital skills, many of which take place at Memorial.
“I also volunteer with Skills Canada for the Coding Challenge for both the intermediate and the provincial competition,” added Ms. Strickland, a Memorial alumna with a bachelor of science (computer science) and a bachelor of commerce degree to her name.
She says she enjoys volunteering with the organizations because it helps kids and teens see a career in science as an option.
“For females interested in coding, it is important to see role models, feel empowered and find new ways to exhibit creativity,” she pointed out.
A mother of two young girls who share her love of science, Ms. Strickland says she wants to see more women studying and working in areas such as coding.
“Women make up over half the population and are half the users of all technology. I hope that women working in this industry will develop software products that recognize our gender’s specific needs and wants.”
In the lead up to Feb. 11, Ms. Strickland says she and her daughters read stories of female trailblazers.
“One of my daughters’ favourite books is Women in Science, written and illustrated by Rachel Ignotofsky,” she said. “It profiles many different female researchers who have contributed to the STEM field, such as Jane Goodall, Valentina Tereshkova and Grace Hopper. It is important that my girls learn about female scientists and their important intellectual contributions.”