Katie Hart has always been intrigued by the brain.
Growing up with cystic fibrosis and diabetes, she said the more she learned about what hides within the skull, the more curious a child she became.
Now a young adult, Hart is a neuroscience major at the University of Alberta. She is also one of 11 NWT recipients of the De Beers Group scholarship recognizing women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
Pamela Ellemers is the head of the De Beers Group Canada inclusion and diversity program. She said the scholarship aims to support the communities where the organization works.
By supporting women in STEM, she said De Beers is working to support gender equality for people who “hopefully” enter their workforce.
“It’s good for our company but also good for the North,” she said. “We want to make sure we benefit the communities where we operate.”
Since launching in the 2019-2020 academic year De Beers has issued 14 total scholarships with special consideration to Indigenous women, and women from the NWT, Nunavut, and Northern Ontario – places where De Beers operates.
A three-year partnership focused on inclusion and gender diversity between UN Women, the United Nations organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women, and Scholarships Canada, led to the STEM award’s creation.
“We’re really proud to be supporting women in STEM,” Ellemers said.
The original seven recipients from 2019 are eligible to renew their US $4,800 scholarships through to the 2021-22 school year. In Hart’s 2020 cohort, the seven recipients each received US $2,175. De Beers spokesperson Terry Kruger said this year’s award is a result of a surplus of funding but is not eligible for renewal in the future.
Still, Hart said she is “very grateful” for the additional funds helping her pay for her four year program.
With her degree, she hopes to do research for brain diseases with limited treatment options “and hopefully bring that back to the North.”
Since her classes are online, Hart couldn’t speak specifically to any perceived gender gap in her program, though she said promoting women in science is something she’d like to see more of.
The scholarship helps to “inspire girls to go into STEM,” she said.
“De Beers is really helping to close this gap in science by giving this scholarship and allowing girls to actually go to university and receive degrees in science and eventually go on to careers into what they want.”