Diversity in STEM: Why it Matters!

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #PressforProgress. In recognition of this day, WISE Acadia, in partnership with the Acadia University Faculty Union Women’s Committee, will host a panel discussion entitled, Diversity in STEM: Why it Matters! on March 6, 2018, 4:30 - 6:00 pm in the KC Irving Environmental Science Centre, Auditorium. A reception will follow in the KCIC Garden Room afterwards, from 6:00 - 7:00 pm. 
We have assembled a panel of four extraordinary leaders in research and industry, all of whom are strong advocates for diversity in STEM. 

Meet the Panelists

Denise Pothier, Vice President of Practice Services at Stantec, and the first ever Vice President of Indigenous Relations at Stantec

Denise Pothier has a background in chemical engineering and more than twenty years of industry experience in the oil and gas sector, working in regulatory compliance, quality assurance and management systems, process engineering, and risk assessment. She is currently the Vice President of Practice Services and the first-ever Vice President of Indigenous Relations at Stantec. For the last 10 years, she has helped develop, build, and now serves on Stantec’s Diversity and Inclusion council. She is a firm believer that a diverse and representative employee base, led by a diverse and representative leadership team, enhances and strengthens the cultures of quality, innovation, and health and safety within an organization. She sits on the board of directors of Techsploration and the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB). Denise is a champion for marginalized groups and a passionate volunteer in her community

Dr. Imogen R. Coe, Dean of Faculty of Science at Ryerson University, and a Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biology

Dr. Imogen R. Coe is the founding dean of the Faculty of Science at Ryerson University and a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biology.  She is also an affiliate scientist in the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, Keenan Research Centre at St. Michael’s Hospital, where her research group studies the biology of drug transport proteins, which facilitate the entry into cells of drugs used in the treatment of cancer, viral infections and parasitic infections.  Dr. Coe is internationally recognized as an advocate for the engagement, retention, recruitment and promotion of girls and women in science. As a Canadian thought leader in this area, she has advised academia, government and industry on best practices to increase equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).  She has written about EDI in STEM for publications such as the Globe and Mail, iPolitics and the Huffington Post.  She is also a TEDx speaker and has been invited to give numerous talks to academia, industry and government.  In fall 2016 she was recognized by WXN as one of Canada's Top 100 Women, in the Trail Blazer category for her advocacy work promoting equity in STEM and in 2017, she was one of the “Canada150 Women” in the best-selling publication of the same name.


Tamara Franz-Odendaal, Professor of Biology at Mount Saint Vincent University, and NSERC Chair for Women in Science and Engineering - Atlantic Region

Dr Franz-Odendaal is a developmental biologist and anatomist and joined Mount Saint Vincent University in 2006 in the Dept of Biology. She has held the NSERC Chair for Women in Science and Engineering (CWSE) Position for the Atlantic Region since 2011.  The five NSERC CWSE holders are working to increase the participation of women in science and engineering, and to provide role models for women considering careers in these fields. Her program, WISEatlantic, aims to shift gendered STEM stereotypes. WISEatlantic empowers girls to consider Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)-based careers by raising their awareness of the diversity of jobs within these fields, and enabling them to visualize themselves working in these fields. WISEatlantic supports women in STEM through professional development opportunities such as the Step-Up Academic Advancement Workshops, and hosting WinSETT Leadership Program workshops. WISEatlantic has reached over 13,000 students, teachers, academics, and professionals. Dr. Franz-Odendaal helped organize the 2012 CCWESTT Conference in Halifax and is currently a board member of CCWESTT.  She is often called upon to provide expert opinion about women in STEM in Canada and has served on countless panels, committees and boards.  In 2015, she received the Mount’s Research Excellence Award for her outstanding contributions to the research community and research climate at the Mount.

Ulrike Bahr-Gedalia, President & CEO of Digital Nova Scotia

With a career spanning five geographic regions, Ulrike Bahr-Gedalia is a multilingual, award-winning entrepreneur and innovator with over 20 years of global experience within the information and communications technology (ICT) sector. She has held senior executive roles at the headquarters of prominent multinational high-tech corporations, SMEs, and startups, and is currently the President and CEO of Digital Nova Scotia (DNS). Ulrike has led DNS, the industry association for Nova Scotia's digital technology sector to new heights, resulting in unprecedented growth, sustainability and increased regional and national visibility.

In recognition of her leadership with DNS and for her lifelong advocacy for equity, diversity and inclusion, Ulrike has received numerous awards and has been regularly featured as an inspiring role model for youth, women, and immigrants in STEAM. In addition to having been recognized for three consecutive years with the WXN Canada's Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award, Ulrike was also honoured with the RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award, the WCT "Wavemaker" Leadership Excellence Award, the Atlantic Business Magazine Top 50 CEO Award, and the Progress Women of Excellence Award. Ulrike was named a Top 40 Change-Maker in Canada by Canadian Living, was highlighted in April 2017 by hEr VOLUTION as 1 of 150 Canadian female leaders in STEAM, and featured in the newly released Canada 150 Women: Conversations With Leaders, Champions, and Luminaries book. Ulrike was invited to speak in front of a sold-out crowd at TEDxKelowna in June 2017, and was featured in the "Executive Voice Publishing - Best of Canada 150th Anniversary Report" in October 2017.  

Ulrike is an elected member of the International Women's Forum (IWF), and sits on Industry Advisory Boards with the Dalhousie Faculty of Computer Science and the Saint Mary's University Sobey School of Business. Ulrike is also a Board Director with the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) based out of Ottawa, being the first East Coast representative since the Council's inception in 1992, and has joined the Board of Directors with Skills Canada Nova Scotia (SCNS) in November 2017. 

Married with a son and daughter, Ulrike moved from Israel to Nova Scotia in 2002.