12. Political Representation

“We can get stuck in institutions by being stuck to a category. This is not to say that we cannot or do not value the work of these categories. But we can be constrained even by the categories we love. I had experienced already what it can mean to be ‘the race person’.”

Sara Ahmed, “On Arrival”

“Ottawa Ontario Canada ~ Parliament Hill and Central Block Tower ~ Historical Site” by Onasill ~ Bill is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0


In 2016, Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, nearly becoming the first woman president of the United States.  In 2020, Kamala Harris became the first woman Vice President in American history, and the first Black woman Vice President. In 1993, Kim Campbell became Canada’s first and only woman Prime Minister and Canadians haven’t had a woman prime minister since. In 2015, Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed the country’s very first gender balanced cabinet, arguing that by 2015 it was about time there were equal numbers of men and women in executive roles.  This module asks: what does it mean for underrepresented or marginalized groups to have “a seat at the table”?  Does diversity make a difference? Does political representation lead to social justice?

Learning Objectives

By the end of this module, you should be able to:

  • Define descriptive and substantive representation
  • Explain arguments for increasing gender and racial diversity in politics
  • Identify key moments related to gender, race, and representation in the Canadian context
  • Identify barriers to women’s equal representation
  • Explain critiques of ‘diversity’ talk

Moving Forward




%d bloggers like this: