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A Remarkable Assembly: Female MPP Job Shadow 2019

Political Science Students Get First Hand Experience in Women’s Leadership and Representation

May 22, 2019

In partnership with the Socrates Project and Experiential Education, the Political Science Department had the opportunity to send a small group of female student ambassadors to the Ontario Legislative Building at Queen’s Park in Toronto to observe the Legislature in action. 

Between Monday, April 15 — Tuesday, April 16, 2019, 9 selected undergraduate students attended a specially tailored 2-day event hosted by the Legislative Assembly of Ontario’s Women’s Forum and the Protocol and Public Relations Branch.

On Monday, April 15th, the students engaged with 100+ other young women from across Ontario in the “Our Remarkable Assembly — Women’s Forum,” which featured a full-day program to promote active citizenship and public engagement through education and female empowerment. 

The program began with registration and breakfast in the In-Camera Dining Room. The Honourable Ted Arnott, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, officially welcomed the young women to the Women’s Forum. Thereafter, various Members of Provincial Parliament spoke to the students about the importance of female representation in Canadian politics. Although it is evident that progress has been made to encourage female leadership within the political realm, there is still a lot more work that needs to be done. 

“This event was an extraordinarily valuable experience for all of the young women trying to discern if a career in politics is right for them.” said Kyra Kozole, a fourth year Political Science and History student, who is already taking on a leadership role in public service. “The job-shadow was an especially positive experience as it provided me with a realistic expectation of what it’s like being a female MPP at Queen’s Park.”

Throughout the day, the attendees were exposed to a behind-the-scenes perspective of Ontario’s Parliament.

Imaan Walji outlines her key takeaways from the Women’s Forum. The third year Political Science student stated, “My favourite part of the first day was definitely the tour – the building has so much history and getting a tour of it was both informative and very interesting.” 

The Women’s Forum was designed in a way to highlight the voices and perspectives of women who are actively involved in political leadership. As a result, the students were encouraged to participate in information and panel discussions to network with both the partisan and non-partisan representatives of Ontario. 

Aly Tkachenko valued the networking aspect of the program. The second year Political Science student said, “The speeches from the Sergeant-at-Arms and the Lieutenant Governor were interesting… One of the highlights of the event for me was the networking lunch with the MPP’s and other participants. I met Nathalie Des Rosiers who shared her experiences and facilitated a great discussion about working in politics, as well as some lovely women from different academic backgrounds. I really enjoyed being able to discuss and compare our experiences and make important connections for my future.”

On Tuesday, April 16th, the participants had the privilege to exclusively job-shadow a female MPP, which included sitting in on meetings, observing question period, and interacting with the the MPP’s staff.

“Everyone that I interacted with at Queen’s Park was extremely open and willing to answer questions about their day-to-day duties, the purpose behind a lot of actions of the different parties and the different dynamics that people faced within their jobs” said Kennedy Fung, a third year Political Science student. “The thing that I found very interesting was that regardless of the party, those that I interacted with were all very supportive of my interest in politics and policy, and had suggestions and tips for me about how best to go about acting on those interests. I really enjoyed being able to have conversations about politics and current issues with people that may have had differing opinions and views than I do.”

Madison Honsinger highlights the importance of bringing in female empowerment initiatives into the McMaster community. The third year Public Law and Judicial Studies student affirmed:

“While we were only there for two days, the group of women from McMaster that I accompanied to Queens Park grew to become friends throughout the process. Sharing this experience with them only made the experience that much greater, as well as furthered more connections within McMaster. A few of the other women from McMaster left with volunteer positions and great connections as well. While every woman in our McMaster group had a very different experience with their MPP, we all left very empowered and excited to make positive contributions in our own communities.”

MA in International Relations student Esharit Youkhana, who worked closely with Queen’s Park representatives in organizing and coordinating the 2-day event also reflected on the impact of the initiative for female students in Political Science. 

“I had the pleasure of working with various strong and dedicated women to make this event happen. It is very empowering to witness young women asserting themselves in male-dominated fields. The reality is that gender expectations still have an impact on an individual’s goals and aspirations at a very young age. Introducing initiatives for female students in an academic setting is essential, as it encourages young women to develop self-confidence through educational opportunities that allow them to truly express themselves. Through these programs, we create spaces for women to share their stories, we validate their perspectives, and recognize diversity to transcend binary thinking in politics. In order to build a better future, we must include women’s voices into the narrative.”

The Political Science department thanks Dave Levac, McMaster’s Distinguished Visiting Professor in Public Leadership for Change, Dr. Karen Bird, Chair of the Department of Political Science and Professor, and Debi LaMantia Director of Parliamentary Protocol and Public Relations for Queen's Park for assisting with this exceptional opportunity. 

Ontario's Legislative Building sits on the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation. The area of Queen’s Park was an important gathering place for First Nations communities, its land was once home to various distinct Indigenous groups, including the Huron and the Haudenosaunee.