Tag Archives: Indigenous women

Module 3 Weblog – Kathryn Williams (née Gardner)

  1. Persistence of women and minorities in STEM field majors: Is it the school that matters? Amanda L. Griffith

Grittish, A, L. (2010). Persistence of women and minorities in STEM fields majors; Is it the school the matters? Economics of Education Review, 29(6), 911-922.


Griffith explains that there is a gap between the representation of women and minorities in STEM fields post-university compared to the numbers of men or majority groups. She argues that this is due to two reasons: first, women and minorities are less likely to choose STEM subjects to study at university and second, they are less likely than men and majority groups to remain in that major until graduation. Her study looks at the impact of their previous educational experiences, impact on their post graduate choices and selections, the influence that female professors have on female students and minorities graduation rates in STEM fields. 

  1. Aboriginal woman defies odds in science – Derek Sankey, Calgary Herald


This article focusses on Indigenous woman Becky Cook, who grew up in Manitoba. She attended the University of Manitoba and now works as a geophysicist. Cook attributes her success to community support. She now mentors young Indigenous girls and tries to make them more aware of the options available to them post-high school. While researching Indigenous women in STEM careers, I have found several articles like this one which highlight an Indigenous woman who has overcome many barriers to achieve success in STEM subjects. The articles, like the one above, are often inspirational. I find these articles very interesting but they led me to ask more questions. When will there be fewer barriers in the way Indigenous women achieving success in these fields? How can the norms be changed so that an Indigenous woman achieving success in scientific or mathematical careers is no longer newsworthy and becomes the norm?

  1. Implementing Meaningful STEM Education with Indigenous Students & Families


This website suggests many practical tools for including Indigenous knowledge systems in STEM subjects in the classroom. A very simple tool which is highly recommended is ‘observation of the natural world.’ Further recommendations include connecting STEM subjects to the everyday community responsibilities of Indigenous students, inviting guest speakers into the classroom and taking children outside school to have different experiences.

  1. Putting Raven Back Together Again – Case Study


This case study describes the experiences of students who took part in the Native Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Summer Camp in Seattle in July 2015. Taking the original STEM subjects, this camp combined them with the Arts. Campers were encouraged to think deeply about their surroundings whilst celebrating the Indigenous way of knowing. The camp used Indigenous stories and combined them with modern sciences. They gave the example of mischievous Raven being thrown off a cliff and the environmental consequences that followed and connected this to modern human caused environmental problems and drought. The program developers noticed that there were not very many science-oriented camps for Indigenous kids and that is why the camp was set up, as the organizers believe it will help increase Indigenous student achievement as well as their overall well-being.

  1. Alberta Women in Science Network – https://www.awsn.org/

The Alberta Women in Science Network (AWSN) assists STEM outreach programs to share resources and support each other to achieve shared goals. The network’s vision is equal opportunity for all in STEM. Developed in 1994, AWSN has advanced STEM opportunities for young girls and has helped women in STEM careers to share resources. The network also recognized that Indigenous people were underrepresented in the STEM fields and developed programs that were specifically geared towards them. For example, the Power to Choose program gives Indigenous youths in grades 7-12 the knowledge and power to choose a career and encourages them to stay in school to achieve these goals. The three pillars of the organization are: recruitment – encouraging underrepresented groups to pursue their interest in STEM; retention – helping STEM-trained professionals to find and retain work in their fields; and recognition – recognizing excellence in STEM pursuits.


Weblog 2

Weblog 2


I’m Not the Indian You Had in Mind  by Thomas King is a spoken word short featuring the author and two Indigenous actors. The actors are dressed as any North American does in the  21st century. This is contrasted with old “cowboy and Indian” western movie scenes playing in the background. Shots of the stereotypical Indigenous person riding horses or shooting bows and arrows emphasizes the disparity between real Indigenous people and their stereotyped big screen counterparts. The props used, like the cigar store Indian, add to that message, that the Indian you have in mind, is not a real person.



Sherman Alexie Interview on NPR about his recent memoir of growing up on reserve. The interview also includes a reading of a chapter. Sherman Alexie is often seen as the voice of the Native American. His writing is funny, heartbreaking, honest and accessible for students. His book “The Absolutely True Diary of  Part Time Indian” is a favourite among students, and has also landed on several banned book lists for its raw language and sexuality. I always recommend this book in spite of some people (mostly parents) who are uncomfortable with the topics included in the novel. It is a realistic portrayal of how 14 year old boys think and talk to each other. Because of the popularity of the novel Sherman Alexie is often go to voice of Native writers. He responded to this by saying

“I really hope that like 10 or 12 Native writers, fiction writers, non-fiction writers, really launch into the national consciousness …” he says. “So I don’t have to answer all the questions, so I don’t have to get invited to all the conferences. Share the burden of being a public figure Indian! Come on, people! Hurry up, finish your books!


The following links are to documentaries created by Indigenous women. These are excellent examples of Indigenous women using technology and art to express and consider cultural issues.




In “Headdress” a young woman, JJ Neepin, recreates a portrait of her grandfather. JJ Neepin and her photographer, Nadya Kwandibens, discuss the significance of the headdress. The cultural appropriation of headdresses has been debated lately has celebrities and concert goers have been spotted wearing them at outdoor festivals, the debate also surfaces as Halloween approaches. As she puts the headdress on Neepin says she can feel the weight-physically and metaphorically. This is a short doc (under 6 minutes) that would be a great way to start a conversation about cultural appropriation of the headdress.


Four Faces of the Moon


“Four Faces of the Moon” is an animated short film by filmmaker Amanda Strong. The character travels through time to witness history and colonization of Indigenous people. The film centres around the decimation of the buffalo as a means to terminate the Indigenous people that depended on them for survival.  I want to focus my research on Indigenous women and their involvement in STEAM. This film is a great example of a woman involved in the creative and technical side of filmmaking.


The Oak Legacy


“The Oka Legacy” is a documentary about Oka crisis in the 90s and focuses on the role women played in the protests and the impact it had on young aboriginal girls, some of whom went on to be leaders in Idle No More. I was a child during the Oka Crisis and remember hearing bits about it, but did not ever really understand what is meant. Watching it now I was shocked. The tensions between the Mohawk and the town didn’t shock me, but the violence did. This would be an interesting film to watch with students now and compare and contrast what they see with current issues and protests in Canada and the United States.