To celebrate International Women’s Day, Scientists in School joins thousands in the global push for gender equality. To honour this important day, we’re celebrating our science workshop presenters. Through their important work and accomplishments across various fields, many presenters at Scientists in School have defied gender stereotypes and misconceptions about women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Today, we’re shining the spotlight on one of our fantastic presenters, Kathy Morch.
Before Kathy started working with Scientists in School, she graduated from Carleton University with an Honours Bachelor of Science in Geology and later worked with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment. She started off in the information resources department in the Water Resources Branch and later worked in the Hazardous Materials Branch. Kathy worked to make connections between the language of engineering and the language of a politician, taking complex information about topics like water well contamination and dioxans and furans from pulp and paper mills, and articulating this information in a way that’s easier for all to understand.
Kathy has proudly been working with Scientists in School as a science workshop presenter for over nine years. She ignites children’s’ curiosity with workshops including Don’t Take Rocks for Granite and Sound is Music to my Ears.
We chatted with Kathy to learn more about what drew her to a career in STEM and how we can encourage girls to pursue science.
Why did you become a Scientists in School presenter?
I often hear from children how hard science is. At the end of a half-day workshop when I ask them if they had fun (and they shout, “YES!”), I can tell them that they just did geology or physics. I ask them, “Was it hard?” Of course not. It’s these “aha” moments that inspired me to become a presenter with Scientists in School.
What made you choose your field and what do you love about it?
Geology is big and large, and you can touch, see and feel it. That’s what I love about it. I love observing how forces put into play millions of years ago leave their mark upon the planet that we can see today.
Is there someone who inspired you to go in to STEM? Who is your STEM role model?
Ever since I was in grade school I always knew that I would somehow be involved in a science discipline. One of my floor mates in university was talking about how fun and interesting geology was, so I took an introductory course and was hooked! Geology uses and integrates knowledge from all areas of science, including biology, physics, and chemistry, and that blending of knowledge appealed to me. I also like to travel, and being a geologist means that you’re going to be travelling periodically.
How are others impacted by the work done in your field?
Everyone is impacted by the work of geologists: We have oil and gas to heat our homes, run our vehicles, plastics, glass, steel, sunscreen, makeup, paints…the list goes on. There are so many disciplines within geology that there is something for everyone.
How has being a woman in STEM influenced or impacted your career, if at all?
There have definitely been a few #MeToo moments, so I had to have a thick skin. I have been asked questions in interviews that probably would never have been asked of a man. I think you need to be flexible, do what you love, and most of all make sure your voice is heard.
What is something you wish you knew about STEM when you were a kid?
The biggest disconnect that I see is when youth are trying to plan their future, the options they know about and see in the job stream are so very limited compared to what is actually out there. Finding those possibilities is key. That’s why organizations like Scientists in School can help. I also wish I had access as a kid to those STEM summer camps that can be found in many places.