Bonnie Schmidt, Ph.D.
Founder and President, Let’s Talk Science
Title: Nation Builders: a critical role for women in ICT
Summary: Dr. Schmidt will address issues about youth engagement in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), including gender-based differences related to attitudes, performance and participation. While youth attitudes towards STEM are generally very positive, this interest does not translate into participation at the levels that will be required in the coming decades. She will also reflect on the importance of role models and mentors as well as her own career development through the founding and evolution of Let's Talk Science.
Dr. Bonnie Schmidt is the founder and President of Let’s Talk Science, an award-winning, national charitable organization that she started while completing a PhD in Physiology. Let’s Talk Science helps children and youth fulfill their potential and prepare for their future careers and citizenship role by supporting their learning and engagement through science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Over three million youth and educators have been reached by Let’s Talk Science during its twenty year history and the organization has an ambitious plan to reach 5 million more over the next five year. A key growth strategy is connecting the STEM and education communities to help young Canadians explore the relevance and importance of science and technology in our everyday lives.
Bonnie has been active in many national and provincial organizations and initiatives. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Ontario Genomics Institute, the Board of Governors of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) and on the advisory panel for Impakt: for social purpose. Bonnie was the founding co-Chair of the Science & Technology Awareness Network (STAN). She has served on several federal granting review panels and on the 2010 Coalition for Action on Innovation in Canada led by Rx&D and the Canadian Council of Chief Executives. She was also a member of the expert panel that developed Ontario’s Early Learning Framework in 2006.
Bonnie has organized sessions on STEM learning and outreach at national and international academic conferences and has been an invited speaker at many events, including the National Space Science Summit, the Leader to Leader Program for 21st Century Skills, the Canadian Science Policy Conference, and the OECD Conference on Global Science, ‘Declining Student Enrolment in Science & Technology’. She chaired the national panel that developed the Spotlight on Science Learning benchmarking report. Bonnie has also published several papers and reports, which can be accessed through www.letstalkscience.ca.
For her efforts in education, Bonnie has received several awards, including the Top 25 Women of Influence; Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Award; Queen’s Golden Jubilee Award; Top 40 Under 40; Ontario’s ‘Leading Women, Building Communities’; YWCA’s Woman of Distinction; and Western’s Young Alumni Award.