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Alumni Feature: Erica Rayment

Erica Rayment is now a political science professor at the University of Calgary, but 14 years ago she was an OLIP intern. She completed her undergraduate degree in Early Modern Studies and Political Theory at the University of King’s College, in Nova Scotia, and then an MA in Political Theory at McGill University. Then, she jumped into OLIP, which sucked her into the world of parliaments and politics!

For her government placement she worked for MPP Khalil Ramal for London-Fanshawe, then Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Citizenship & Immigration. For her opposition placement, she worked for MPP Elizabeth Wittmer for Waterloo. One particular highlight for Erica was running the Girls Government program for MPP Wittmer, to get more girls interested in politics.

Post-OLIP, Erica took up a brief contract position with the Atkinson Charitable Foundation, and then on to a role in policy and government relations at the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA). A longstanding OLIP sponsor, OCUFA recruited her for a position where she worked closely with faculty and contributed to the development of policies in the higher education sector.

During her time at OCUFA, Erica realized she was not yet finished with academia (a fact that friends like to remind her everyone knew all along except her). She began doctoral studies in Political Science at the University of Toronto in 2014, balancing her coursework and research with part-time work at OCUFA.

Part-way through her PhD, in 2017, Erica joined the Ontario Public Service on a part-time basis as part of the implementation team for the Premier's highly skilled workforce initiative. Simultaneously, she continued her studies and taught at the University of Toronto Mississauga. Shortly after earning her doctorate, she began as an assistant professor at the University of Calgary in 2020, where she teaches and conducts research in Canadian politics and gender and politics.

Reflecting on her time in OLIP, Erica notes that she would not be where she is today without the programme. OLIP ignited her interest in parliamentary politics and opened her eyes to career opportunities she didn’t even know existed.  And while she didn’t take a direct route to her current role, she credits her experience in OLIP as foundational for the work she’s doing now. OLIP sparked her awareness of the importance of inclusion in politics, specifically the representation of women in politics. When she finished OLIP, she joined the Toronto chapter of Equal Voice which resolidified her interest in women and politics. She attributes beginning her doctoral studies – in which she explored the intersection of women’s representation and parliamentary processes – to her experience in OLIP where she first started to really pay attention to gendered differences in politics.

Her advice to the OLIP community is to be open to everything – you never know where life will take you! For current and future OLIP interns, she also recommends “acting like a chameleon” by trying to think like the MPPs and staff that surround you in your placements. She just started reading The Paradox of Parliament by her colleague (also an OLIP alum!), Carleton professor of political science Jonathan Malloy. Her own book, What Women Represent: The Impact of Women in Parliament comes out in May 2024.

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