Women have played a crucial part in Canadian history and shaped the nation into what it is today.
From activists who legalized voting for all Canadian women to political figures and educators, Science World’s exhibit “Trailblazing — Women in Canada since 1867” showcases the achievements women have made over the past 150 years.
“We’re really excited when this came out, because it seems like a cool opportunity to showcase some of the amazing contributions women have made to Canada and Canadian society,” says Isobel Worrall, manager of public programs and engagement at Science World and curator of the exhibit.
Worrall says Science World decided to put on the exhibit because it fits with the company’s mission to encourage and increase the number of young women in fields such as science, technology, engineering, arts design, and math.
“The thing we found really interesting is there’s no national women’s history museum or longtime exhibit dedicated to this topic,” Worrall says.
The exhibit is presented by Acuitas Therapeutics and was created by the Waterloo Region Museum in collaboration with women’s history instructors from the University of Waterloo in Ontario.
Trailblazing has over 80 women featured on their contributions to Canadian society. It separates into a few main sections such as women in sport, politics, education, women at work, and violence against women, Worrall says.
People can interact with a mix of information boards and hands-on activities such as practicing the work women have done in the past like using a switchboard, wrapping a bandage, and fuse making.
“There’s just a ton to read about, things you didn’t even know happened or things that you may [have] thought you knew about, you find out so much more detail which is really cool,” Worrall says.
The exhibit opened on June 16, and Worrall says they’ve had a great turnout so far including various age groups enjoying the exhibit.
One of the women that stands out to Worrall is Elizabeth Bagshaw, the medical director of Canada’s first and illegal birth control clinic in the 1930s.
“It was a criminal offense to distribute and sell birth control, but she went ahead and did it anyway for the safety and well-being of women, which I think is a pretty trailblazing thing to do,” Worrall says.
“I think it’s important that this exhibit is displayed to show not only how far we’ve come, but also that we still have a little way to go.”
To elevate the exhibit, Worrall says they have put on local Trailblazing events to highlight local women such as one focusing on Indigenous women and another on Sept. 12 focusing on seven women in the Vancouver-area who have brought about positive change and contributed their voices to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and many more.
Worrall hopes people coming out of the exhibit feel inspired, more knowledgeable about the contributions women have made to Canadian society, and are empowered to do more themselves.
“These women were just normal women from all different backgrounds, and they’ve all made incredible contributions, and that is still possible,” Worrall says.
Trailblazing will be on display until Jan. 22, 2024. To learn more about the exhibit and buy tickets, head to https://www.scienceworld.ca/.