March 16, 2023

Congratulations to Dawn Moffat McMaster!

Recipient of the 2021–22 Dr Stanley Drabek Graduate Scholarship in Political Science & Alberta Excellence Scholarship-Doctoral!
Snow capped mountains

The Dr Stanley Drabek Graduate Scholarship in Political Science was established to assist and encourage students who, through their studies, will contribute to the development and dissemination of knowledge specifically about the Canadian political system

The Alberta Graduate Excellence Scholarship (AGES) International Recognizes outstanding academic achievement in graduate studies 


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

Dawn’s found a genuine conundrum: Canadian non-profit organizations are unique in that they directly provide services associated with the welfare state. They are also dominated by women, even at the highest levels, and many working in the non-profit sector are outstanding at raising money. This combination of skillsdeep policy knowledge, strong relationships in community, outstanding fundraising skillsshould make these women outstanding candidate for public office. So….why aren’t more of them candidates for public office?  


Dawn, your own broad research interests include Canadian Political Institutions, Gender and Politics, and Elections and Representation. How did you come to focus on these areas?  

Well, I was interested in politics even as a young kid. I think I saw it as a way to affect the world around me. My interest in gender politics was also clear early on. I grew up in evangelical churches, and the power and gender dynamics in the institution were apparent even to a child. When I started university, I had planned on a degree in journalism, but once I started studying politics, I became much more interested in understanding the political world than documenting it. I've always been drawn to how politics affects people on a day-to-day basis. My focus on Canadian politics kind of grew out of paying attention to the people and communities I've been a part of. And my interest in parties and elections is relatively recent, really based in the research I'm working on now.

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

My approach to academics has always been rooted in community, and I've been lucky to work with some great nonprofit organizations. It was in 2017, through that work that I started to notice how nonprofit work builds the kinds of the skills that make a great political candidate, things like networking, fundraising, and staff and volunteer management. Then I started to see people with nonprofit experience running for office in my community. The last piece came when I was researching local nonprofits and learned the degree to which women are overrepresented in the Canadian nonprofit sector, which got me thinking about whether and how employment in the nonprofit sector might act as a pipeline into electoral politics, especially for women. 

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

I've been working on developing the methodology for my research during my course work, and I'm developing a presentation for the Canadian Political Science Association conference in June. We have a provincial election coming up in Alberta, so I'll be focused on data collection during April and May. And, of course, my next big step is to do my Field of Study exams, so I'll be reading until my eyes dry out for the foreseeable future! 


Congratulations to Dawn Moffat McMaster on your 2021–22 Dr Stanley Drabek Graduate Scholarship in Political Science & Alberta Graduate Excellence–Doctoral Scholarship  


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