Alumni & Friends - Ways to get involved and give back

Women in STEM

February 11th is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, which recognizes the need to remove barriers to STEM education and careers for girls and women worldwide.

To celebrate, the University of Toronto has lauched #UofTWomeninSTEM, which profiles some of the remarkable U of T women whose contributions to science, technology, engineering and mathematics are changing the world we live in.

As part of this celebration, we are honoured to highlight four inspiring U of T Scarbourgh Arts & Science Co-op, female students who are pursuing an education and careers in STEM.

Daniela Venturo knew from a young age that computer science was the program for her. Motivated by her desire to help other women by creating apps to locate safe spaces for women, she started researching program options from her home country of Peru. Computer science wasn’t well known to her until she heard about it at a new university in Peru, and immediately knew computer science was for her. Fostering her desire to study abroad, Daniela then discovered U of T Scarborough’s Arts & Science Co-op program and is so thrilled to be here. Her co-op work terms at Demonware and Cineplex Digital Media continue to foster her love for software development and she especially appreciates their commitment to diversity and inclusivity.

While she feels women are still underrepresented in computer science, the women in her classes are motivated, passionate and smart. Daniela has always leaned towards science and math, choosing “to learn about the moon over becoming a singer, because the moon sounded so cool”. She credits working at a startup in Peru that teaches youth how to code, with a specific focus on getting women into STEM, for really sparking her passion and desire to help other young women get into STEM.


Rashida Kapadia is a computer science, software engineering, co-op student. Crediting her high school teachers for sparking her interest in math, Rashida chose the Computer Science Co-op program at U of T Scarborough to foster her curiosity for problem solving and technology. Recognizing the fact that almost 85% of first year computer science undergraduate students in Canada are male, Rashida was excited to explore the opportunities ahead. Now in her third year at U of T Scarborough, Rashida is encouraged by the number of female students and professors leading her classes.

Having now completed two co-op work terms, one at the Ministry of Education and another at Ericsson, Rashida hopes there are more females to follow in her footsteps and focusing on coding. Her advice to future female students, “Just go for it, take an opportunity and say yes to everything. You may feel a bit isolated but the community is growing and a lot more women are joining this field. Just go for it, you’ll do really well!”

Sowmiya Wigneswaran chose the co-op program at U of T Scarborough to foster her passion for hands on experience and wanted to learn how to apply the theory from classes into a work environment. She chose neuroscience for her passion to learn more about the brain, as the powerhouse of the whole body and loves how fascinating her courses and professors who specialize in these areas are. Recognizing that it wasn’t always this way, she is very encouraged by the great representation of women in her courses, noting that all of her science courses have been instructed by female professors. 

Sowmiya is currently on co-op work term at Princess Margaret Hospital and enjoying the welcoming, hands-on experience she is getting. Encouraged by her mother who has always been in the healthcare system, Sowmiya hopes to provide direct patient care, and that her academic and work term experiences can help guide her career path. Her advice to other female students looking to get into STEM, “The number one thing is to be resilient. You can look for opportunities and face loss and rejection, but that’s just part of the pathway and you learn a lot along the way. Be resilient and if you really want something, stay focused and don’t doubt yourself.”
Elif Baran has always known that she wanted to be a doctor. She knew from a young age that medicine was for her, with neurology being something that especially excited her. Her decision to enroll in the U of T Scarborough Arts & Science Co-op program was driven by her desire to expand her knowledge in the field and provide a foot in the door through hundreds of research positions available through the co-op program.
Elif has always felt that females are represented across the university throughout clubs, employment opportunities and initiatives. Through her co-op work term at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Elif is provided great exposure to machine learning and computer software trials to predict head and neck cancer stages. 
Her advice to female students looking to pursue STEM, “Don’t be shy! Get out there and show yourself! You got this girl! Take advantage of all campus supports available to you including employment opportunities at the university, study sessions and clubs. Most important of all, show that you are motivated and that you love what you do! Get the sparkle in your eye to show.”