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Ontario Tech acknowledges the lands and people of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.

We are thankful to be welcome on these lands in friendship. The lands we are situated on are covered by the Williams Treaties and are the traditional territory of the Mississaugas, a branch of the greater Anishinaabeg Nation, including Algonquin, Ojibway, Odawa and Pottawatomi. These lands remain home to many Indigenous nations and peoples.

We acknowledge this land out of respect for the Indigenous nations who have cared for Turtle Island, also called North America, from before the arrival of settler peoples until this day. Most importantly, we acknowledge that the history of these lands has been tainted by poor treatment and a lack of friendship with the First Nations who call them home.

This history is something we are all affected by because we are all treaty people in Canada. We all have a shared history to reflect on, and each of us is affected by this history in different ways. Our past defines our present, but if we move forward as friends and allies, then it does not have to define our future.

Learn more about Indigenous Education and Cultural Services

Shifting the story in science: Meet Sarah Habibi

March 9, 2020

Growing up, I often heard the phrase, “It’s a man’s world”. Today, I still hear it but thankfully, less frequently and today, it’s less of a deterrent. More and more, women are rising and building bridges to overcome the obstacles they face in our unequal, unbalanced society. From Malala Yousafzai to Bianca Andreescu, women are taking a bold step to make their mark. Male-dominated fields such as engineering, business and information technology, sports (you name it!) are being shaken up to create a levelled playing field. And well….

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So often we forget to recognize the women around us who are boldly and positively impacting our society.

In the fight for equality, it is important to highlight these women and acknowledge their work and efforts to make a difference. Here at Ontario Tech, we have remarkable women who are literally KILLING it and I’d like you to meet one of them. I had the opportunity to chat with her recently and it was lit!

Meet Sarah Habibi, or as she is known on Instagram, SCIENCE BAE (@science.bae)!

Science bae

What is your field and why did you choose this field?

Here at Ontario Tech, I work in a molecular biology lab. My research focuses on pharmacology-parasitology. I look at drug targets in parasitic worms for the future development of pharmaceuticals.

Describe your involvement on campus.

 Lots! While I wasn’t involved in a lot during my undergrad years, I was fully immersed in grad school. In my first year of Grad school, I was the President of the Graduate Studies Student Council. During this time, I was involved in planning networking events and developing supports and services for graduate students. I also participated in and actually won the 3 Minute Thesis competition last year. I even had the opportunity to participate in the President’s Installation (I got to do the official hooding! So cool!)  Since then, I’ve sat on various councils and committees. Overall, I’m always involved in science outreach programs. I’m always ready to participate in any community building activities. I love this school!

If you could meet any woman, who would you meet and why? What female do you admire?

I think one woman I really look up to is Michelle Obama. I admire Michelle because she has done an amazing job with her platform. So often, first ladies do not use their platform as effectively as they can or do not take full advantage of this great opportunity being in such a role but Michelle certainly did and continues to. I admire her work in education and how she seeks to empower children and youth. She’s a huge role model, a total BOSS WOMAN! A wife, a mother, First Lady to the former President but also she has done great for herself, killing it in her own professional career!

I see you have a passion for education, particularly Science Education. And you’ve built a platform through your Instagram account @science.bae. What led you to build this brand and do you feel you’re making an impact?

My goal in building this brand was to inspire and empower girls to get involved in STEM. But moreso, I just want to encourage women to be strong females. I want to show girls and women on a whole that you can be into feminine things such as beauty and fashion but also be a great professional. You don’t have to choose. Growing up, during high school, I found you had to choose between the two. You were either smart or pretty and popular. I’m trying to change that misconception. You don’t have to choose. As a woman, you should be able to hone all your passions. Many individuals have reached out to me sharing that I’ve helped them in some way or another and I’ve positively impacted their lives and that means so much to me because that’s what I set out to do.

What’s your favourite thing about being a woman?

I love the fact that we can do and have it all. As a woman, you can be compassionate but you can also be firm and strong. You can not only reproduce and raise a family but you can also have a professional career and be great in your field. We are able to be family-oriented but also be active members of society. I’ve always wanted to be a mom but I’m also professionally driven. To live in a world where I can do that, especially being in a Western society, is a great privilege and I love having these opportunities.

What do you think is the biggest challenge women presently face and how can we overcome it?

Personally, one of the biggest challenges was being a feminine woman in Science. I found that I was judged by my physical appearance. People didn’t take me seriously and this is something I set to change with my platform. I’ve gotten used to this after having experienced it on different occasions. So now, when I walk into a room, I expect certain reactions. I know the stereotypes people have of women who are particularly feminine but I’m not fazed by that. I’ve developed a thick skin. And now I just work to shatter that stereotype every time I open my mouth. I boldly share my knowledge, my wisdom and break the misconceptions people have based on my physical appearance.

On International Women’s Day, what is the most important message you want to send out to young women at Ontario Tech?

I think I'd tell women at Ontario Tech and women everywhere that there is enough success for everyone. Support each other. Stand by each other. Empower each other. Women are often the biggest critics of each other and I wish we could change that. When one woman succeeds, we all succeed. Celebrate each other. There is enough for everyone. Let’s stop tearing down each other.

Talking to Sarah was such a refreshing, empowering experience. And I’m sure you can agree with me, she’s a total BADASS!

And she’s just one of the many badasses on campus!

(You should check out our Women in Business, in IT, in Nuclear Science and Engineering societies etc. to catch up on the great things our Ontario Tech women are doing!)

As we progress towards an egalitarian society, there is a great deal of work to be done. The battle is not yet won. We still have a very long way to go. For change to be enacted, we need more men to respond to the call to action. We need less mansplaining and more seats at the table for women’s voices to be heard. At the global level, we need women to break the silence and to stand up for themselves. We need systems and policies in place that foster female empowerment and growth. We need opportunity. We need access to resources. We all need rights.

Women’s rights are human rights and human rights are for all.

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