Ensuring equal opportunity in tech begins early. Four discussion tracks will focusing on different stages of education and career for women and girls. 

In each track, you will hear from researchers examining the gender gap, get inspiration and insight from keynote speakers, and share your voice and experiences in working group sessions.


Early Childhood

rocking horse

Early Middle Years


Secondary To Post-Secondary





Opening Remarks

Welcome and greetings from:

  • Deputy Minister Tracey Maconachie, Economic Development and Training, Province of Manitoba
  • Dr. Jan Stewart, Interim Provost and Vice-President Academic at The University of Winnipeg
  • Video Message: Dr Jenni Sidey-Gibbons, Astronaut, Mechanical Engineer, Combustion Scientist, Lecturer
  • Ashley Smith, HR Manager, Ubisoft Winnipeg

9:15 - 10:00


Dr. Victoria Kaspi

Dr. Victoria Kaspi is a Professor of Physics at McGill University, where she holds the Lorne Trottier Chair in Astrophysics and Cosmology, and the Distinguished James McGill Chair.

10:00 - 11:00

Breakout Session 1: Harnessing Early Spatial Learning During Play

Dr. Joanne Lee


Playing with blocks and puzzles – spatial play – has been linked to spatial and numeracy development. Given that foundational spatial skills are predictive of subsequent mathematics attainment in elementary and even high school, parents play a significant role in the early informal education of their children.

In this talk, we examine gender differences in parental scaffolding of their male and female children using physical toys as well as virtual blocks and puzzles presented through apps on a tablet mobile apps.  Our findings provide evidence that parents and caregivers can capitalize on the affordances of gender-neutral toys – blocks and puzzles – to optimize instructional opportunities for young children.


11:00 - 11:15


11:15 - 12:15

Breakout Session 2: The Gender Gap in STEM Fields: Engaging Girls in the STEM field Early

Dr Anni Reinking

While there are many movements and social media hashtags focusing on women who have been influential in STEM fields, there is still a lack of embedding those voices and experiences in early childhood and elementary classrooms. Through research and application, this presentation will speak to specific classroom and community techniques to diminish the microaggressions females in STEM fields experience and encourage gender equity starting at a very young age.

12:15 - 1:15


1:15 - 2:15

Breakout Session 3: Thinking STEM in Early Childhood: Supporting our Next Generation of Astronauts

Dr. Sheri-Lynn Skwarchuk & Sarah Melo

In early childhood, parental attitudes and involvement strongly affect children’s exposure to technology, and this exposure can lead to positive outcomes. Skwarchuk and Melo have been working in Education with young children for over 20 years. Our latest projects have focused on providing evidence-based suggestions for parents/caregivers to support numeracy learning, such as the ToyBox project and MeloMath4Kids.  We feel it is important to build a strong foundation to support children’s learning in school and beyond. In this presentation, we showcase our projects, as consumers of technology, to highlight for parents the importance of becoming involved in children’s early numeracy learning from a young age, avoiding gender stereotypes and negative comments about mathematics, to support entry into STEM disciplines later in life.

2:15 - 2:30


2:30 - 3:00

Track Discussion Session

3:00 - 3:45

Sharing Findings


Closing Remarks