As Aaiman Aamir comes toward the end of her Environment and Business degree, she reflected on her desire to pursue careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) as a young girl. She realized early on she had “streamed herself out”: “When I failed a math test, I decided that I wasn’t good at it and didn’t try any further. This kept me from studying physics or chemistry and limiting my options for university later on.”
Aaiman recognized that she wasn’t alone in this, that girls being streamed out of STEM pathways was a widespread phenomenon, especially in Canada. She began thinking about the roots of the problem and how she might address it.
Because she was headed into her last term at UWaterloo, she decided she would come to GreenHouse to develop her ideas.
“There’s a misconception that you have to have a fully developed business plan before you come into an incubator like GreenHouse,” Aaiman says. “I came with something I was passionate about but my project shifted during my time at GreenHouse.”
Conversations with mentors helped Aaiman think about her reasons for her passion and why she wanted to pursue it. She says that being in a community and attending workshops with others who were pursuing social purpose ventures inspired her. While initially Aiman had the idea of developing a book that would simply be a good resource for girls thinking about STEM, over the course of the term she began thinking about how to best make an impact with those girls at the early childhood education level.
Out of this has come her venture, Stories of Us, a platform that highlights diverse female role models in STEM across Canada. The platform includes children’s books as well as online learning content and hands’-on activities for classroom and family use.
Aiman is in the process of interviewing women in STEM as well as working with a curriculum developer to create supplementary materials. As she plans to graduate and move out of Waterloo while finishing a draft of her book, she gives herself the same advice as she does other potential social entrepreneurs, “Run with your ideas and see where they take you.”