ITI Women in Science Profile – Melissa Clark

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February 10, 2023

Saturday Feb 11th has been set aside by the United Nations to recognize the achievements of women and girls in science.

From summer students all the way up to its Deputy Minister, the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment has many examples of successful women in science to celebrate.

Yellowknife’s Melissa Clark is one. 

She’s graduating in April from UBC with a degree in earth and environmental sciences (a hybrid of environmental studies and geology). For the past three summers, she’s completed field work at the NWT Geological Survey (NTGS) alongside what she describes as great and “inspirational women”.

Melissa admits to being drawn to the National Geographic Magazine as a child; and has even dreamed of being a part of one of its cover stories.  But, she says, growing up, she hadn't planned on going into the sciences, and only really considered pursuing environmental sciences after she began exploring university options.

“As I sorted through programs, I kept coming back to programs involving environmental science,” she recalls, “and topics like pollution and climate change.”  

Once she graduates, Melissa is hoping to return to the NWT and work, at least initially, with a mining or consulting company; something she admits wouldn't have always seen herself doing.

“I enjoy the research aspect of science and the field work,” she says. “I think I've realized that mining and consulting companies offer some really interesting opportunities for hands-on learning, and often work to address the kind of issues I've always been interested in; like protecting water quality or dealing with contaminated sites for example."

While studies show that in comparison to their male peers, females are underrepresented in science and technology fields, Melissa says she has not necessarily experienced that in her field.

“I’ve been lucky,” she admits. “I’ve been on a small campus. There is still a discernible split between earth sciences and geology for example, but it’s changing.” 

The UN’s commemorative day is designed to encourage more women and girls to seek out STEM-related fields. STEM includes the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

“I think it’s important to be thankful for the generation of women that have paved the way for students like me,” Melissa says. Their lives have been significantly harder than mine. I am so glad that they were passionate enough and strong enough to be the trail breakers that they were.” 

“It’s still not easy – but I definitely think things are improving.”