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Robert Bondar STEM Career Development Program
Friday Read | January 2023

Sarah MacDonald, Watershed Science Coordinator

“Roberta Bondar, Roberta Bondar, Roberta Bondar” my neighbor repeated. I had some exciting news to share with her; I was accepted to the Roberta Bondar STEM Career Development Program! I could see the surprise in my neighbors’ eyes after telling her. “I had to say her name over and over again because I didn’t want to forget it. She was the first female astronaut and first female neurologist in space!” She said with excitement.

In June of 2022, I was accepted into the Roberta Bondar STEM Career Development Program for 2022-2023! This program is an opportunity for women, nonbinary people, and gender diverse people working in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) to network with industry leaders and peers to develop their knowledge and gain new perspectives. Therefore, I will be blogging about my experience in this program!

This diverse group of 20 women from all over Canada meets twice a month for a year. So far, past participants joined a meeting so that current participants could ask questions about their experience with the program. The cohort met with Canada’s industry leaders in business, innovation, diversity, security, and artificial intelligence. At the end of each session, participants can ask questions, discuss with peers, and reflect about their thoughts on the topic.

The major takeaways for me have been that I would like to learn more about negotiation, mentorship, and leadership. I started reading a book about negotiation that was recommended to me by one of my fellow cohort participants: Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss. It has been eye opening hearing other women’s leadership and STEM experiences. It is also comforting being part of a group of like-minded women that enjoy improving themselves. I cannot believe how much I have learned so far.

Another aspect of the program is that each participant must conduct a presentation about themselves to the group. It is so valuable hearing other women’s stories about their journey into STEM programs and careers. Together, we’ve also worked through an I Am Remarkable workshop and an impostor syndrome workshop. These workshops helped everyone in the group learn more about each other and themselves.

So, who is this Roberta Bondar woman that I keep mentioning? The Canadian Dr. Roberta Bondar is the person this program is named after. Her accomplishments in space medicine brought her numerous awards that led to her appointment as an Officer of the Order of Canada, Canada’s highest civilian honor. I wasn’t sure who this woman was before this program, and if you also didn’t know who she was, I thought sharing a bit about her would be helpful. I’m looking forward to providing another update on my learnings in the next few months! For more information about the program, visit https://www.wct-fct.com/en/programs/dr-roberta-bondar-stem-career-development-program.

Thank you to Women in Science and Technology for hosting this program. Women in Science and Technology is a Canadian not-for-profit that supports women to achieve their highest career potential through professional development, mentorship, advocacy, and research. Visit their website https://www.wct-fct.com/en.