Attendees of the Women of the future: Envisioning Potential panel discussion were inspired by the many words of advice and encouragement offered by the four accomplished Trent Alumni who made up the panel. Hosted by the organization Community for Trent Women, the October 13th event was moderated by Carol Gray (Trent Alumna ‘75, University board member, and director for AMEX and Ontario infrastructure) and was followed by a short question period and networking reception in Trent’s Bagnani hall at Catherine Parr Trail college.
Rhonda Barnett is the VP of steelworks, which she co-owns with her husband. The company is a firm which focuses on Automation and engineering and has done work with globally successful technology corporations. Barnett will be the first female chair member of the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME) trade association in 2017, an organization which was significantly influenced by Canada’s first Prime Minister, John A. Macdonald, in its very early years (details here).
Mary Bean is the director of culture and leadership for Learn2, a learning strategy firm, and is a former director for the South Central Region division of the Canadian Cancer Society. Mary’s stories and advice resonated with the audience. Her message was that success is “not a planned course,” but requires being true to yourself and networking.
Killulark (Laura) Arngna’naaq is from Baker Lake, Nunavut. She was the first Indigenous student to be accepted into the prestigious Master of Management and Professional Accounting program at the University of Toronto and currently works as the accounting manager for Habitat for Humanity. She is very active in the Aboriginal Professional Association of Canada. Her advice to the audience was to “dive headfirst” into passions.
Nadine Changefoot is an associate professor & Chair of political studies at Trent University. Nadine has also worked as a policy analyst for the Ontario and Federal governments and as a management consultant for a private firm in Ottawa. Nadine's teaching and research interests combine Canadian politics, political theory, and gender and women and politics. She particularly enjoys tasks that she perceives as a challenge, and “[takes] on challenges because [she] sees them as a version of [her]self that [she] wanted to be.”
Panelists came from multiple academic backgrounds, ranging from Mathematics to political studies, but all had a common theme in their retold stories -- passion and being true to yourself.
The discussion ended with the posing of a question to the panelists – “If there was one policy which you could change that affects the status of women, what would it be?” which saw insightful probing into potential directions of policy, such as developments in the accessibility of the Skilled Trades front (Rhonda Barnett), the introduction of mandated safe/shelter spaces for women in municipalities (Mary Bean), and advocating for accessible child care, which is seen in the labour market as being correlated to women’s entry & staying in the work force.
Story by: Tyler Dore, Student Communications Assistant, Alumni Affairs.