Women in Science Speaker Series, feat. the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport

Women in Science Speaker Series, feat. the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Sport


Good afternoon everyone and welcome to
the women in science speaker series featuring our inaugural presenter the
Honorable Kirsty Duncan, Federal Minister of Science and Sport.
My name is Peggy Schmeiser and I’m the Associate Director of the Centre for the
Study of Science and Innovation Policy at the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy. It’s my pleasure to serve as the emcee for this afternoon’s event.
As we gather here today I would first like to acknowledge that we are on
Treaty Six Territory and the Traditional Homeland of the Metis. We pay our
respect to the First Nations and the Metis ancestors of this place and
reaffirm our relationship with one another. Through activities like this
speaker series CSIP looks to provide opportunities for exchange across
sectors about the policy and governance dimensions of science, technology and
innovation. Today we are honored to have Minister Duncan speak with us about
women’s engagement in science, technology, engineering, and math or STEM sectors, as
a critical element for our country’s scientific and societal success. To begin
I would like to recognize the tremendous support and work of colleagues that have
made this event possible, including Doug Moen, Murray Fulton, Karen Jaster-LaForge, Erica Schindel, Kathryn Warden, Anne Ballantyne, Bethany Penn, Jerome
Konescni and CSIP Director Peter Phillips. Thanks as well to Teagen Quilichini, the founding coordinator of the 500 women scientists yxe pod, for her
collaboration in this work. Through the speaker series CSIP is pleased to
highlight the work of Canadian female scientists, as we celebrate their
contributions to policy development, dialogue and prosperity
at local national and international levels. With this I would like to invite
a dear colleague an unwavering champion for science and innovation, our Vice
President Research Dr. Karen Chad to say a few words
on behalf of the University of Saskatchewan. Oh wow, first time I get to say this to
many of you that I haven’t seen–Happy Happy New Year and gosh what a terrific
way to bring in 2019! Thank you very much Peggy and indeed it is truly an honor
and indeed a great privilege to be part of this very first CSIP-led Women in
Science Speaker Series and to bring greetings on behalf of the University of
Saskatchewan. Minister Duncan it is such a great pleasure, as it always is, to
welcome you to our campus and to have you speak to us today on a topic that is
important to the future of Canada and hence for the entire globe. On behalf of
the University of Saskatchewan I would like to thank you for your government’s
leadership, and in particular your own personal advocacy, in striving to ensure
that equity diversity and inclusion are a key part of Canada’s research agenda. I
see that there are also many representatives of our partner research
organizations in the audience, and so I would like to pay particular welcome to
you all and thank you for your interest and support in advancing inclusive
innovation. I am also delighted that our colleagues
and our dear friends at the University of Regina are joining us by live
streaming of this event, welcome to you all. To be the University the world needs,
is the overall aim of our new University of Saskatchewan plan and it is a bold
ambition indeed. So to achieve this goal we must as a research community harness
the talents and potential of all of us in order to generate new discoveries
across the research spectrum. At the University of Saskatchewan, one of
Canada’s top research universities, we are committed to a culture of inclusion
and collaborative, discovery and innovation, right across our diverse
community with particular focus on women and Indigenous peoples.
Critically important to successful innovation are the areas of science,
technology, engineering, and math–the so-called STEM disciplines–areas where
the numbers of female and Indigenous faculty are growing, but where female and
Indigenous leadership remains relatively low. Of course, we are working to address
these gaps through a variety of initiatives including our Aboriginal
Student Achievement program in the College of Arts and Science, which
provides opportunities for Indigenous students to enter diverse STEM related
degree pathways ranging from agriculture to quantum physics. My sincere hope is
that this CSIP-led speaker series, which highlights the success of outstanding
female role models, will inspire students to pursue research and STEM careers and
will inspire faculty and staff to be bold in addressing barriers to inclusive
research success. We all play a very vital role in emboldening the curiosity
that will enable us to all contribute to a brighter more sustainable future and
to be the university the world needs. For its not only excellence in diversity, but
I commit that excellence is diversity. Thank you very much. Thank you, Vice President Chad for your
words and ongoing institutional commitment to inclusion within our
university community, especially within STEM fields. Dr. Kirsty Duncan is the Minister of
Science and Sport, and a Member of Parliament for the riding of Etobicoke
North. She holds a doctorate in geography from
the University of Edinburgh and is internationally recognized as a leading
expert in pandemic influenza, environmental change, and its impact on
human health. Her publications include the book, Hunting the 1918 Flu:
One Scientist’s Search for a Killer Virus, and Environment and Health: Protecting our Common Future. Prior to entering politics she was an
Associate Professor at the University of Toronto and the University of Windsor
where she taught global environmental processes and medical geography. Minister Duncan is a fierce defender of the environment, having served on the Nobel
prize-winning intergovernmental panel on climate change. As Canada’s federal
science minister and a former researcher herself, Minister Duncan has made it a
priority to write the gender balance in Canadian academia. I would now like to
welcome Minister Duncan to the stage to deliver her presentation entitled, “Equity,
Diversity and Inclusion in Research.” Following her presentation, I will ask
Vice President Chad to join the minister and me for a brief conversation
here on the stage, before we conclude with a few remarks by one of our
graduate students. Please join me in welcoming Minister Duncan. Good afternoon everyone. Bonjour, today a
tous, and I too would like to begin by acknowledging that we are gathered on
Treaty Six Territory and the Homeland of the Metis.
This land is a traditional gathering place for many Indigenous peoples whose
histories, languages and cultures continue to enrich our country. Thank you,
Dr. Schmeiser and thank you to you and to everyone in organizing this Women
in Science Speaker Series. It matters. Just think what this series may inspire–
more young women considering STEM fields at university or as a career. And one day
a young woman will follow in the footsteps of Canada’s newest Nobel Prize
winner, Professor Donna Strickland. She is only
the third woman to win the physics prize and the first Canadian female scientist
to do so. I want to recognize university President Peter Stoicheff, it’s always
a pleasure to work with him and this speaker series is another example of the
important work being done here at the University of Saskatchewan. And Dr.
Schmeiser, I would like to officially welcome you back for a day and to
welcome wee Liam. So let me start by saying how proud I am to come from our
research community and I’m awed humbled and inspired every day by the work you
do. 2018 was an absolutely fantastic year for science and research in Canada, with
enumerable exciting discoveries by our tremendous researchers, and 2019 is
already off to a great start. Just last week the world heard how Canada’s chyme
telescope located in British Columbia detected
13 high-speed bursts of radio waves coming from deep space, and the source of those mysterious verse is unknown but they appear to be coming from outside
our galaxy. How exciting. Merci pour tout ce que vous faites, et aux étudiants présents, j’ai hâte de voir ce qui attend dans un avenir proche. And to our students I cannot wait to see what you will accomplish. When the Prime Minister
asked me to serve as the Minister of Science, I had one goal–to put our
researchers and students at the heart of everything we do. That means ensuring
that they have the funding necessary for their research, as well as for their labs
tools and digital tools. They need in the field today, and we have delivered. For
science and research budget 2018 was historic. Our government made the largest
investment in science and research, four billion dollars over five years. That is
the largest investment in the history of our country, and on top of that I know we
have many government researchers here today we invested 2.8 billion dollars in
government science infrastructure to provide our researchers with the
state-of-the-art facilities. But we committed more than funding. We committed that we would strengthen our research community. That we would broaden it and
ensure that underrepresented groups would be included. Let me ask our
professors here and across the country to reflect on your labs, on your garage
with students over the last decade, maybe the last 20 years. We know amazing things
were happening, yes. But was anyone missing? What ideas might have gone unexplored? What results that might have benefited all Canadians went
undiscovered? Think about the first airbags, designed by engineers who were
largely male, on prototypes of the male sized body. You’ll remember that it was
women and children who were initially injured or killed when the airbags
activated. And even today, heart disease and women is under diagnosed, under
treated, and under researched. What if more women had been included earlier in
research, would the results have been different? What if we had had more
Indigenous researchers and we had listened to Elders and communities? What
if the LGBTQ2 community had been treated more compassionately at the
start of the AIDS pandemic? How quickly we forget that gay men, even men who were suspected of being gay, lost their jobs and were evicted from their apartments.
Would the policies of government have been different and the results less
devastating, had we better included their voices? The point is–broad
backgrounds, experiences, ideas, and perspectives generate great research. The
questions and methodologies are richer, and the results benefit all Canadians.
With this in mind a lot of my work as Minister of Science focuses on promoting
equity, diversity, and inclusion within research. We needed the data to be able
to do that, and that’s why we brought back a Statistics Canada survey–it’s
called the University and College Academic Staff Survey, or UCASS. It provides our government with important data on full-time faculty at
Canadian universities. We can now look at whether women and men,
or other underrepresented groups, are progressing at an equal rate through the
academic ranks and whether they are earning equal pay. And, that’s why we’re
going to extend this important survey to our part-time faculty and to our
colleges. We made changes to our prestigious research chairs, the Canada
Excellence Research Chairs and the Canada Research Chairs, both programs now have equity and diversity requirements. To get there I asked our universities to
develop detailed equity diversity and inclusion action plans, and to be
intentional when seeking out the best candidate to fill these important
research roles. In other words cast a wide net. And, I’ve personally made it
clear to university presidents that I would instruct my program officials to
withhold funding if universities fail to meet their own equity and diversity
targets. Ces conversations ne sont pas faciles. Le changement n’est pas facile, ni rapide, mest il arrive. I am truly heartened by the gains we are already seeing in these
areas. For example, a full sixty percent of our Canada Research Chairs are women. They were selected through peer review,
from more than 2,000 applications from around the world. And, for the first time
in Canadian history we had 50% women nominated for the Canada Research Chairs. And, the largest percentage of Indigenous,
racialized individuals and persons with disabilities ever. This is really
something to celebrate. And our universities and granting councils have
been clear, they are succeeding in broadening the diversity of their
institutions and they have maintained their established standards of
excellence. Our government also launched a successful national social media
campaign to encourage young Canadians, especially girls and young women, to
pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Check it out
#ChooseScience. So what’s coming next?
Well our most recent budget set aside an historic 1.7 billion dollars for our
granting councils. I can’t wait to see the discoveries that
are coming, and we have tied the support to the requirement that they develop
plans to ensure the next generation of researchers is more diverse. I’d like to
be clear about these requirements. I don’t just mean more women. I mean all
groups who have traditionally been underrepresented–indigenous peoples,
racialized groups, persons with disabilities, and members of the LGBTQ2
community. There are too many voices that have been left on the sidelines for too
long, and it’s up to us to change that. If that makes people uncomfortable then we
have more work to do. We are taking steps to involve more Indigenous voices in
research and this morning I hope you’ve seen we had a wonderful morning at Wanuskewin Heritage Park. I announced the recipients of a hundred
and sixteen award winners, who will each receive $50,000 and they are working to
identify new ways of doing research with Indigenous communities. What’s exciting
is half of those 116 award winners are led by Indigenous researchers or
Indigenous organizations and there is Indigenous governments and
leadership in each. These grants support community
gatherings and workshops that facilitate dialogue and knowledge sharing. These
grants will advance reconciliation with First Nations, Metis and Inuit. So moving
forward, we are implementing a Made in Canada version of Athena Swan–that’s the
United Kingdom initiative to include more women in science. But we’re going to
need to expand that program to all departments and institutions to ensure
other underrepresented groups are included as well, and we will recognize
the importance of intersectionality. In fact before I joined you here today, I
had the privilege of hearing from leaders in academia and other sectors,
what they would like to see in a Canada Athena Swan program. And I’d like to
acknowledge President Stoicheff again he facilitated the roundtable and his
presence elevates the importance of working toward inclusion. This was one in
a series of roundtable discussions our government has held over the past six
months to discuss opportunities and challenges, and I’ve personally hosted
numerous of these from coast to coast to coast.We are aiming to launch our pilot
Athena Swan this year, so please watch for it and I thank you in advance for
your support. There will also be new grants for higher education institutions
to make progress on increasing representation of underrepresented
groups. I hope you are as excited as I am by the possibilities. Some of the most
rewarding moments and my time as Minister of Science and for decades
before, I hate to admit it’s decades, as a researcher have come from speaking to
early career researchers, especially young women about the importance of
science and research. I’ve worked hard to encourage young women to get excited
about research and and support them, to stay in science and
research fields. Why? Because we need their smarts, their ideas, their passion,
and their desire to build a better Canada. And, we know a career in research
can be tough, it can be very lonely at times. I think it helps to hear from
someone who cares and someone who has been there before
them. Je viens d’une famille qui m’a élevé avec la nación que je pouvais devenir ce que je voulais être et que j’aurais les mêmes opportunite que mon frère. I come from a family that
said I could be anything I wanted and I had the same opportunities as my brother.
But, as a woman in science, and like many of you in this room no doubt I faced
barriers and fewer opportunities than my male colleagues. I was once asked at a
faculty staff meeting when I planned on getting pregnant. How deeply personal and
illegal. On another occasion, I was given the option of how I wanted to be treated–as a woman or as a scientist–the two are not mutually exclusive. Later when I
asked University official why I was being paid in the bottom 10th percentile,
I told him I was told it was and I quote, “because I was a woman.” These challenges can be amplified for racialized groups and persons with disabilities. Systemic
challenges do exist and they limit the contributions of underrepresented
communities. That’s why I’ve made it one of my priorities to reverse this pattern
of discrimination. My friends, my inspiring friends, who are running this
speaker series and I hope this inspires more, we must all be committed to
reversing discrimination. Not only because it’s the right thing to do, but
because in a competitive global economy Canada cannot afford to leave any talent
on the sidelines. I believe we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to
change the culture of our great, and I do mean great, institutions to welcome all
Canadians into the classroom, the field, and the laboratory. It is exciting to make
change, but it’s challenging as well because it’s about changing hearts and
minds, and not just programs and policies. And, that’s hard work.
We know when women, Indigenous peoples, people with disabilities, racialized
groups, and members of the LGBTQ2 communities succeed, we all benefit. I’d
also like to add that we all share a responsibility to be champions for
inclusion. We also all have a responsibility to speak up when we see a
lack of diversity, to speak up when a comment or behavior is inappropriate.
There can be no silent bystanders. Every time we let an inappropriate comment or
behavior pass, we give permission. We all need to be part of this much needed
generational change. It matters. I’m eager to get to our discussion, so let me sum
up by saying, I hope I can count on all of you to be champions for inclusion. It
is our shared responsibility to use our talents to continually build a better
research community. And, I think our research community is pretty terrific,
but we can build better. A better post-secondary educational experience
and ultimately a better country. And, with that I will say thank
you for this invitation. I am absolutely humbled and honored to
be here. Merci. Wow. Well thank you so much minister for
that presentation. It is such an honor and so much fun. It
is such a joy to have you with us, and it’s just so inspiring. To begin this
discussion with you and with Vice President Chad, I’d like to share a few
indications you mentioned that you like data. I wanted to share a few indications
of where, of where, we find ourselves just to set the stage for some questions that
we’d like to ask. According to a 2018 report by the Canada United States
Council for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders, women in North North America comprise only 25% of STEM workers and represent only one
in eight Engineers in Canada. 2016 census data indicates that just under thirty
percent of those and occupations relating to a STEM field of study in
Saskatchewan are women, and within stem occupations males in the province have a
medium employment income of over $80,000. Far above the female median income of
approximately $63,500. Based on this evidence that is
clear that we still have a ways to go if we are to see the full and equal
participation and benefits of women in STEM related sectors. With this in mind,
I’m delighted to have an opportunity to ask you both just a few questions with
the time we have. So, Minister Duncan if I could begin with a question just to
build on your presentation, you’ve dedicated your career to science and to
supporting and encouraging other women and girls to engage in scientific areas.
Building on your earlier comments can you discuss the importance of this work
for you personally? And, if there were any particular issues in particular that you
could address, what would they be? Dr. Schmeiser, thank you for the
question and again I just really want to congratulate you and your colleagues on
putting on this series. I have spent 25 years fighting for more women in science. It has been my passion when I was a researcher, and I
have to tell you I loved research, and I loved working with students. And, 11 years
ago I made a very hard decision to leave the Academy. The opportunity to serve the
community where I’m born and raised, and I had to go door to door and ask if
I could be their Member of Parliament and I election in six or
seven languages–none of which are my own. And, so in taking on this new role, when
the Prime Minister asked me to serve as Minister of Science, I wanted to tackle
women science and everyone said you can’t do it–political suicide–I said, “you
can’t ask me to be a woman scientist and not to do this.” Do the barriers still
exist? Yes. I love that you start with the data. The data shows the problem. I meet
incredible young women across this country, and they inspire me every day.
I don’t want only to attract them to STEM fields, we want them to stay in STEM
fields. We want your ideas. We know research will be stronger if you’re part
of it and so I’ve talked about the things
we’ve done–whether it’s bringing back the survey so we have the data, putting
on new diversity and equity requirements for our research chairs–there’s more
work to be done, and I really hope Athena Swan will help to transform the culture.
It says, get your data– we’re researchers–get your data, this is
our baseline, let’s look where we are today and let’s decide where we want to
get to. And, the last thing I’ll add in is mentorship. My greatest joy was working
young people, it still is and I’ve always said to my students, “On the hard days I’m
a text away. If I’m out of the country, I’m a text away, send me a text, I will
call,” because sometimes all you need is someone on the other end of the line
saying “It’s okay. I’ve been there. You’ll get through this.
Tomorrow will be a better day.” Thank you very much that response. Vice President
Chad, as an accomplished researcher yourself and senior administrator at
this University, I’m wondering if you can talk about what
you see as some of the challenges, but also some of the opportunities, for women
at Canadian campuses? Thanks very much, a really important question, and I think
one that we’ve been grappling with for many many years. I think for me is a
start with the challenges, for me if I had to kind of identify the top
challenges, in no particular order, I would put them down as follows. The first
thing is I think it’s a cultural challenge that we have and many now are
using the phrase unconscious bias and of course as we all know those are social
stereotypes you know about certain groups of people that that individuals
we form outside our own conscious awareness, so one of the barriers the
challenges that we have to overcome is that unconscious bias. The second one is
I think Canada and we and our own universities, we still suffer from an
extreme lack of role models. Role models at the level of the faculty, the level of
senior administrators, the role modeling in terms of staff and in terms of the
role modeling, in terms of our female students. And the last one I think that I
would identify as a challenge, is what I would term as a ‘traditional system’ still
or a ‘traditional framework’ in which we talk about careers and professions. What
I think we right now have is a lack of a framework to support
women in STEM disciplines. So what we really need is a new system that
empowers change–both at the level of the institution, but also at the level of the
individual–how do we empower both of those and at the same time. How do we
hold ourselves all collectively accountable? How do we ensure that we all
have the right program services and supports? How do we monitor our progress
and of course? How do we celebrate that progress and where we are? If I think
about the opportunities, I actually think that Canada is in a really unique
position right now. It’s probably a position we have never been in before. We
have a minister now, we have one person who is, for us, that beacon. It’s wonderful
when we as a country, have actually at that level of government, have set out to
have a leadership position who has the accountability of equity diversity and
inclusion as a priority of her portfolio. So for me one of the greatest
opportunities for us is we now have leadership of our country. We’ve stood up
bold and courageously as a country to demonstrate our commitment. Here at the
University of Saskatchewan, I would say we have the same thing in our president,
in terms of if you look at our strategic plan, in terms of our vision mission and
value statement. You can see our commitment to diversity, and all of that.
So the first opportunity for us is demonstrated commitment and
accountability at the level of our federal government right down to our
University. The second thing is for me why this is such a great opportunity for
Canada and for this university and many other universities, is that not only do
we have that demonstrative commitment by our federal government, but there is also
now the development of a national model as we heard our minister say is is a
made in Canada Athena Swan. And so that is the first time, we as a country, have
actually stood up and said we are now having a national model. And then I think
the last thing is because you have a national model is one thing, I think it’s
important for us to have a framework. But now is, if I know this Minister in this
government, the model will now lead to implementation and action, but it will
end off with also throughout monitoring our progress and as I said celebration.
Thank you very, very much Vice President Chad. Staying with this theme of academia,
Minister, I’d like to ask you a question about your your career your personal
journey. Given that you’ve made such tremendous contributions, as both a
researcher but also then as a leader as a national leader in public policy
design and implementation, I’m wondering what your transition was like from
research to Minister? And, what advice you would have for female researchers that
are interested in influencing or leading policy? Oh, I love that question. We want,
if there are people out here, that you are interested in getting involved in
public policy–we need good people, we need your input.
We’d be happy to talk about that later. When I started teaching at the
University when I was 24 and I enjoyed my research, I was at that time very
heavily involved in climate change research, and I quickly learned that if I
was going to have input I needed to work with government. And, I know you have
worked in government throughout your career. I needed to be involved with
government, I was very much on the science side looking at climate change
and health. But, I always what I loved about academia, I love the research side and I love teaching, but I love service. And, when the opportunity came up to serve in my community–it’s where I’m born and raised. It was a really hard
decision, do you leave something you thought you’d spend your career in? Do
you leave everything you know? And, I mentioned, we’re one of the most diverse
ridings in the country, I get to learn about the world, every day in the
community I serve. Literally, I get to learn about the world. So, I was seven
years in opposition and then Prime Minister asked me to serve as Minister
of Science, you asked what I would say to people, and I’m going to speak directly
to the youth in this room and to anyone, but youth take time to dream your
greatest dreams. No one ever tells you that, and it’s not just about what job
you want here, but what’s the relationship you want with your family,
your friends. What difference do you wan to make in your community, the environment? Take
that time, and dreams change over time, it’s okay to change your careers. It’s
okay. The other thing is know there are hard days. I call challenges speed bumps,
you have to figure a way over them or around them. And, the last one is
impossible as a dare and if someone tells you you can’t do something set out
to prove them wrong. It’s wonderful. Thank you. With a few minutes remaining, I
thought I would ask you both just one more question. Fairly quickly, if I may,
because I’m very interested in some specifics and some of the data. Again,
Vice President Chad, in 2015 and 16, women comprised only thirty point seven
percent of Saskatchewan post-secondary enrollments in STEM disciplines. Given
your experience, how do you feel we can get
more girls and women interested in pursuing STEM disciplines, particularly
research leadership such as the Canada Research Chairs, where we’ve heard there’s
been tremendous progress? Well I would say right now five things I would put
down as as the priorities. Number one is I think we have to enhance our exposure
to the diversity and the variety of opportunities, not only in terms of the
professions, but the environments in which these professions are in. Secondly,
I would say, as I mentioned earlier, we have to increase our role models and our
champions. We have to figure out what this is going to look like, it’s not
going to be a one-size-fits-all, but we need to look at across the institution,
what do we need at the level of the institution? The level of our colleges,
our schools, our research centers, and have a comprehensive approach to that. We have to become very good knitters, in terms of that, it doesn’t happen just at
one level. The third one is is that I would say is that create infrastructure.
What are the programs services and supports that we’re going to need, at the
level of the institution and again at the level of the colleges, schools,
research centers. So for example, proactive advising, addressing not only
career but the lifestyle that comes with various careers, outreach and mentoring,
academic services, curriculum, in other words, we have to proactively design the
infrastructure and implement it to going forward. Fourth, I think we are in a
unique role is that we’re not going to be able to do this on our own,
we need the outreach and the engagement of our community–our local community,
whether that is as in terms of industry, our not-for-profit, our alumni, etc–engage
our community, as well as, looking at our K-12 system. How are we going to work with our K-12 system to ensure this fabulous, comprehensive pipeline–I hope that was an okay word–and the, the fourth one is an accountability
system. You know folks, I think we actually have to have the bold, and the
the boldness and the courage, to actually put in place an accountability system.
How are we going to reward the people that are getting this right, and how are
we going to, like our ministers did, stood up boldly and said we’re going to hold
back funding if we’re not going to be able to address equity, diversity, and
inclusion. And, the last one, as I mentioned earlier as part of this is we
have to celebrate and recognize. Celebrate and recognize, celebrate and
recognize, and I think that’s part of the the piece, along with training, etc., to
overcome this unconscious bias and this whole culture. Thank you, and I guess as a
final question, Minister you have identified today and I’ve heard you
speak at other times we’ve spoken about the importance of mentorship, and how
important that is in this process and Vice President Chad has just talked as
well about celebration and recognition. I just wonder if you could speak for a
moment about that, how important you think mentorship is and any final
thoughts you have on what we might do as as women in science women in the academy to further these efforts. I think if I look out in this room, all of us would
have had, we hope, a champion or a hero we looked up to, as we went through our
careers. For me, it was very much I always looked to Mary Curie, but the
one who had the really tangible impact was Dr. Roberta Bondar. Because Dr. Bondar showed us, taught us, to reach for the stars and we could actually get to the
stars. And, while I was in Parliament we had this wonderful recognition of the
25th anniversary of her flight and what was so terrific to see when you
meet one of your heroes you hope your hero will be spectacular.
Well, my hero the first people she went to were the children. She wanted to talk
to the children and explain why science mattered and there had been children who
were seven and eight years old, who had been held home from school to watch the
documentary, so they would know about Dr. Bondar and the first people she saw were the children. The other tremendous thing she’s made difference in Neurology, in
space, in in the arts, but I think for her what she’s most proud of, is well one of
the areas she’s most proud of, is mentorship and she comes each year, she
brings in a group of women researchers, women in government, and she mentors them and I hope that all of us in this room take time to mentor. I always think I got
more out of the mentoring than my students did. I hope they got it, but I know
what I received. You have both been such wonderful advocates for young people and
for students and so I’m very pleased that in concluding we’d like to invite
one of our graduate students, Yvonne Ndella, to come up and say a few words.
Yvonne is currently a PhD candidate at the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of
Public Policy and a research assistant with our Centre for the Study of Science
and Innovation Policy. Her doctoral research investigates the concept of
social license in relation to agriculture biotechnology governance.
We’re delighted to have you join us Yvonne, if you would like to say a few words. Thank you, Dr. Schmeiser. I’d like to
take a moment to say thank you Honorable Minister Duncan and Vice President Chad
for such an inspiring and educating fireside chat on women and girls engaged
in scientific fields. I’m truly inspired by your great words and greatly
appreciate your unquenchable desire to see women and girls engage and excel in STEM sectors. The many key ideas have drawn from your wealth of knowledge
today. Among them is the need for equity, diversity, and inclusivity, as a part of
Canada’s research agenda and on the challenges and opportunities for women
in STEM sectors. Vice President Chad noted the cultural challenge or
unconscious bias, the lack of role models, and a need for a system that empowers
change both at the level of the institution and at the level of
individuals. The one message that really stood out for me this afternoon from
Minister Duncan is take time to dream your greatest dream, impossible is a dare,
and set out to prove anyone wrong who says you can’t do something. And, so on
behalf of the next generation of women and girls engaged in scientific fields,
and on behalf of the entire student body, the faculty, partners, and the Centre for
Science and Innovation Policy, I’d like to express our heartfelt thanks and deep
gratitude to you for accepting to be our inaugural speaker for the Women in
Science Lecture series. Thank you for your motivation to young
women and girls, and above all, thank you for honoring us with your presence this
afternoon. It’s been a great pleasure and a true honor to have you, so thank you
very much. Thank you very, very much
Yvonne for sharing your thoughts with us. I would like to conclude today’s seminar
with one last thank you to Minister Duncan for her words and generosity in
joining us. It has been such an absolute pleasure to have you with us. And finally,
we would like to encourage all of you to watch for more news about our next Women in Science Speaker Series event coming in March, given some of the ministers words about mentorship and inspiration, it promises to be an equally inspiring
event. We are happy to welcome any media that might be present to meet with
Minister Duncan, who will remain here for a few moments on the stage following the
conclusion of the program. So thank you again very, very much to all of you for
coming out today and once again thank you so much Minister Duncan.