April 28, 2022

Congratulations to Dawn Moffat McMaster

Winner of a 2021–22 Alberta Graduate Excellence Scholarship (AGES)-Doctoral!
blue sky and mountains

The Alberta Graduate Excellence Scholarship (AGES) recognizes outstanding academic achievement in graduate studies. The AGES Indigenous program was established by the Minister of Innovation and Advanced Education to encourage indigenous Canadians to pursue graduate studies in Alberta.


Dawn Moffat McMaster is working under the supervision of Dr. Melanee Thomas. Tell us a bit about what makes Dawn’s work stand out?

When Dawn first approached me, what really excited me about her work is how she thinks about the connection between occupation and political recruitment. We know that professional pipelines are crucial areas that are used to recruit potential candidates. We know that these pipelines are gendered, as are the most common recruitment strategies. Dawn digs deeper into this by examining how non-profit experience — an occupation heavily dominated by women — is connected to political recruitment, and how this varies across different types of elected office. It’s really interesting and important work!

Moffat Headshot

Dawn, your own broad research interests include the non-profit sector as a potential pipeline to electoral success in Canadian Politics. How did you come to focus on these areas?

I've been lucky enough to be able to work with a number of non-profit community organizations in my hometown of Grande Prairie and to see the impact these groups have. The people who lead these organizations have to wear so many hats; they have to be able to network, do fundraising, manage staff and volunteers, and they work hard to engage and serve their communities. I've seen a number of these leaders, especially women, use the skills and networks they develop in the non-profit sector to make the transition to politics, and this got me interested in whether this is happening one a larger scale.

Can you tell us a bit about your specific proposed thesis research?

I'm looking at whether people from the non-profit sector in Canada are running for political offices at all levels of government. We know that women are overrepresented as employees and management in the non-profit sector, so I'm especially interested in whether this kind of work is creating a path into politics for women. A good part of this research will involve gathering information on employment backgrounds of candidates for office, which really has to be done around elections. I'd also like to be able to conduct interviews with candidates to get a sense of the degree to which their non-profit background contributes to their success.

It’s still early days for your research, but what are your next steps in your program?

Well, I'm just completing my coursework, and my field of study exams are the next big hurdles. I have started gathering data, however, because we had the recent federal and municipal elections in Alberta. So I'll be keeping an eye on the upcoming elections in Ontario and Quebec this year and gathering data as I can.


Congratulations to Dawn Moffat McMaster on your 2021–22 Alberta Graduate Excellence Scholarship (AGES) — Doctoral!

To find out more about our paper prizes and past prize winners, please visit the UCalgary Political Science website.