Friday Program

Where Policy Meets Culture: A Discussion on Diversity in STEM

Time and Date: 6:00–7:30 pm on Friday, May 3
Session Type: Keynote Opening Panel
Panelists: MLA Bowinn Ma, Dr. Aoife Mac Namara (moderator), Chris Mealing, and Dr. Toni Schmader

Our conference opener is an investigative panel that will look at the intersection of policies that promote diversity and the workplace cultures that either encourage or discourage the use of those policies. Be sure to stay afterwards for our conference reception, featuring hors d'oeuvres and a cash bar, to make valuable connections with people from a wide range of backgrounds.

Bowinn Ma is the MLA for North Vancouver-Lonsdale. Elected in May 2017, Bowinn is also a licensed Professional Engineer and certified Project Management Professional. Prior to being elected MLA, she managed terminal expansion and redevelopment projects at the Vancouver International Airport. 

Bowinn's degree in civil engineering included an academic focus on transportation engineering, which serves her well in her efforts to improve transportation on the North Shore and throughout the Lower Mainland. She also holds a Master's degree from the UBC Sauder School of Business. 

As a local MLA, Bowinn focuses on the issues of housing, transportation, and child care. Bowinn also serves as the Parliamentary Secretary for TransLink and on several cabinet and parliamentary committees including Treasury Board, Housing Working Group, Select Standing Committee on Public Accounts, and Select Standing Committee on Crown Corporations. 

Aoife Mac Namara is the Dean of the Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology at Simon Fraser University. Born in Nova Scotia in 1967, Aoife moved to Ireland in the 1970s where her first experience of education was in Dookinella, a two-roomed school on Achill Island. Aoife studied sculpture at the Limerick School of Art and completed graduate studies in Fine Art (Birmingham) and Social History of Art (Leeds). After working as a part-time teacher at Concordia University and becoming an active member of a number of artist-run centres in Canada in the early 1990s, Aoife returned to the UK to work for several institutions in a variety of roles including Director of Programs for Fine Art and Visual Culture and Director of Spaces Buildings Make. In 2013, Aoife found her way back to Canada where she was appointed Dean of Visual Arts and Material Practice at Emily Carr University of Art and Design until September 2015 when she joined SFU in the role of Dean, Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology.

Chris Mealing has over 25 years of design, construction, and management experience on transportation and infrastructure projects, and he has held progressive leadership positions for design and construction engineering consultancies, as well as major heavy civil contractors. As Mott MacDonald's Managing Director for Canada, Chris is a member of the firm's global leadership team and is responsible for leading a diverse range of engineering, planning, and advisory services across the country. In addition to his principal responsibilities, Chris maintains parallel roles as executive sponsor for Mott MacDonald's annual Graduate Weekend and its LGBT+ Advance Network. He is also the Deputy Practice Lead for Project Delivery, a member of Mott MacDonald's global GoDigital initiative steering committee, and a tireless supporter of the firm's early career professionals network.

A crucial element of Chris' approach to his role is upholding a strong commitment to staff engagement and enabling an open, diverse, and collaborative environment. Chris leads openly and with emotion, with true commitment to the firm's values of Progress, Respect, Integrity, Drive, and Excellence, and a deep belief in his responsibility to empower the success of others.

Dr. Toni Schmader holds the Canada Research Chair in Social Psychology at the University of British Columbia and is the Director of Engendering Success in STEM, a research consortium committed to evidence-based strategies to improve women’s experiences in STEM fields. She has 15 years of experience and over 70 publications, many of which examine how stereotypes and bias constrain people's performance and self-views. Dr. Schmader has given frequent public lectures on the topic of implicit gender bias including talks to the National Academies of Science in the United States, as part of Harvard's Women in Work Series, and at the International Gender Summit. She was the recipient of a Killam Research Prize in 2013 and the Wegner Theoretical Innovation Prize in 2018.