Celebrating Canadian Wonder Women at Work
By Hayley Shaughnessy
When the first Wonder Woman comic was released, the idea of a woman exuding power in the working world was literally fantasy. But women have achieved a great deal in Canada and around the world since then and have come a long way.
Today marks the release of the new Wonder Woman film, which has broken ground by having the first female director of a major superhero movie.
Where would we be without our own wonder women? We took a trip through history to revisit some of Canada’s trailblazing working women from various industries, and their famous firsts.
Kim Campbell: In the early 1990s, Kim Campbell became the first and only female Prime Minister of Canada on June 25, 1993. Campbell has remained on the Canadian political scene, sitting as chairperson for Canada’s Supreme Court Advisory Board.
Agnes MacPhail: In 1921, Agnes MacPhail became the first woman to be elected into Parliament. She held her seat in the House of Commons for 19 years, before becoming a member of the Legislative Assembly, representing Toronto’s York East riding.
Léa Roback: Considered to be a pioneer of feminism in Quebec, Léa Roback was a Canadian trade union organizer and activist who campaigned against exclusion, violence, racism and injustice.
The Famous Five: Emily Murphy, Irene Parlby, Nellie McClung, Louise McKinney and Henrietta Muir Edwards were involved in the famous Edwards v. Canada case that decided women were eligible to sit in the Canadian Senate in 1929.
Dr. Emily Stowe: Most Torontonians will recognize Dr. Stowe from her involvement founding Woman’s Medical College (now Women’s College Hospital) in the 1880s. Dr. Stowe became the first woman to practice medicine in Canada, too. She is widely remembered as a founding member of the Canadian Women’s Suffrage Association.
Augusta Stowe-Gullen: Just like her mother, Dr. Augusta Stowe-Gullen became a doctor and was the first woman in Canada to receive a Canadian medical degree following her graduation from Victoria University in Toronto. In 1935, Dr. Stowe-Gullen was awarded the Order of the British Empire for her contributions to women’s health.
Florence Lawrence: Hamilton, Ontario native Florence Lawrence is known as the “first movie star”, being the first film actor to be named publicly. Over her career, Florence appeared in over 250 films.
Mary Pickford: Mary Pickford was the first Canadian woman to win an Academy Award for her role in in the 1929 drama film Coquette. Mary is also remembered as the first actress to sign a million dollar contract, which she did on June 24, 1916.
Fanny “Bobbie” Rosenfeld: Canadian athlete Fanny Rosenfeld led the first Canadian Women’s Olympic Team to Amsterdam in 1928. She won a gold medal for the 400 metre relay and a silver medal for the 100 metre race. Today, Fanny is honoured in the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame.
Angela James: Boasting three gold medals, Angela James became the first Canadian woman to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Angela is widely considered the first superstar in modern women’s hockey.
Roberta Bondar: Canada’s first female astronaut Roberta Bondar is also the first neurologist to enter space. Spending more than a decade as NASA’s head of space medicine, Bodnar remains a respected figure in the field and a role model for aspiring female astronauts today.
Harriet Brooks: Harriet Brooks was Canada’s first female nuclear physicist. She is best known for her research on nuclear transmutations and radioactivity and many credit her for revolutionizing the field for women.
Shirley Giles: Shirley Giles became the first female Canadian bank manager in 1961. Working for the Bank of Nova Scotia, Giles dedicated much of her time towards women and financial literacy.
Brenda Rideout: Just this year, Brenda Rideout became the first female CEO of a major Canadian financial institution, Tangerine, after being with the organization for 17 years.
Whether or not your passion matches the career paths of these Canadian wonder women, there are lessons to take from them on fearlessness and courage. After all, they dared to be the first in their field… which all goes to show that you can, too.
For more inspiration and tips on how to become a working trailblazer in your own right, visit career-advice.monster.ca