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Rosie wants women in STEM

Mount Royal magazine plays off iconic war posters to encourage women to join up.

BY LÉO CHARBONNEAU | JUL 31 2015
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Mount Royal alumna Kylie Toh plays it up for the cover of Summit magazine. Photo: Colin Way

The cover story of the spring 2015 issue of Mount Royal University’s Summit magazine looks at the lack of women enrolling in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines and the efforts by professors and alumni to buck the trend. “It’s a national issue,” says Summit editor Theresa Tayler, who wrote the story. “It’s on the mind of politicians, the media, and it’s a hot topic in general.”

When the editorial team was considering ways to illustrate the story, they thought about the propaganda posters from the Second World War, particularly the iconic poster of Rosie the Riveter with her declaration “We can do it!” It’s an image all generations will recognize, says Ms. Tayler, “and we had the right woman to work with.”

That person was Mount Royal alumna Kylie Toh, founder of Chic Geek, a Calgary-based organization that aims to get more women involved in the high-tech sector. “Kylie loved the idea,” says Ms. Tayler. “She got it right away.” Ms. Toh appears on the cover in the iconic Rosie pose; on her wrist is a smart watch, to connect with the STEM theme.

Photos like this don’t just happen, of course. “We knew we were going to have to bring in a stylist and makeup artist, and we had to do it on budget. Everything was planned out,” says Ms. Tayler. And it wasn’t just Ms. Toh; three other women were photographed for the feature, including professor Patti Derbyshire atop a motorcycle. Ms. Derbyshire, chair of entrepreneurship, marketing and social innovation at Mount Royal’s Bissett School of Business, is cofounder of company that plans to make craft-built motorcycles specifically engineered for female riders.

Summit art director Michal Waissmann says all the photos played off the same theme. “We were trying to represent images that you could actually find in the wartime propaganda stuff, but make it modern and empowering.” The photographer was Colin Way of Calgary.

A final twist to the photo shoot is the back cover, where Mr. Waissmann says he likes to play with perspective. The back cover shows the same image of Ms. Toh, but seen from behind, complete with reverse type.

See also this video from Mount Royal exploring further the issues surrounding women in STEM.

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  1. Eric E. van Blaeren, P.Eng., M. Sc. / August 5, 2015 at 15:22

    We rightly talk and do something about the lack of women in STEM. But why are we not talking about and do nothing about the lack of men in Medical Professions?