Growing up in Toronto, Kathryn Hong discovered her passion for science while she was in high school; at the time, however, there was limited access to local science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs that supported women and other under-represented groups of students. She went on to become a master’s student in biomedical sciences at Queen’s University, but continued to see barriers for women and lower enrollment in STEM educational programs, leading to a lack of female role models. Witnessing these limitations first-hand drove Kathryn to launch The Girls SySTEM Mentorship Program (GSM). Dedicated to tackling the under-representation of women in STEM, GSM provides an encouraging space that inspires the next generations of students by spreading awareness and knowledge about traditional and non-traditional STEM fields so that women and girls can make informed decisions about their future.
Targeting grades 7 to 12 at a critical time in their journey, GSM pairs students with professional mentors in their STEM field of interest in order to understand the challenging and diverse experiences of the industry. The mentor not only guides and assists the STEM-curious student personally but also helps her to set and achieve personal goals. This opportunity opens new avenues that can be life-changing, possibly driving them towards professions where once few women would have considered. In addition, unique to GSM, mentors can open the doors to program-exclusive virtual and in-person events that help broaden the community of young women and give them opportunities to meet other like-minded students across the country.
As she completes her medical studies, Kathryn will go on to challenge the status quo not only as a healthcare professional but as a prominent researcher. She continues to lead GSM with her goal of dismantling barriers to education for young women and girls in STEM.
THE GIRLS SySTEM MENTORSHIP PROGRAM
Established in 2018, The Girls SySTEM Mentorship Program (GSM) empowers young women to build their skills and confidence to learn and succeed in STEM-related fields which have traditionally excluded them. With chapters in both Toronto and Kingston, GSM currently has more than 250 mentors and has helped over 500 mentees discover their passion for the world of STEM.