Jill Vickers: A leader in creating a more women-friendly world

Professor Jill Vickers may have retired from Carleton University on July 1, 2007, but that does not mean she plans to be “retiring.” Vickers will continue to teach for the Department of Political Science, conduct research and write in such areas as women’s efforts to contribute to democracy; and their participation in nationalist movements.

Laura Macdonald, the chair of the department, welcomes the fact that Vickers will make an on-going contribution to the university as a Distinguished Research Professor.

“Jill is such a highly distinguished and infl uential scholar,” Macdonald explains. “She has really given birth to the field of women and politics in Canada, and she has trained many of the people who do work in this area. Not only those working in the academic world, but also in politics.”

Vickers obtained her BA and a Senate medal from Carleton in 1965, returning to join the university as a faculty member in 1971. Since then she has combined teaching and scholarly analysis with direct involvement in both mainstream and women’s politics. She has taught about equality rights (both in Canada and in the third world), gender and politics, and women’s anti-racist and disability rights movements. Her direct involvement has taken many forms, from submission of dozens of reports advising government agencies to serving as Parliamentarian of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women for five years.

She characterizes her long battle for women’s rights as “building bridges between governments and women.” As she explains, “They’re our governments, too, and we must get them to pay attention to women’s issues and values.”

Nicole Ng Yuen, a former student, believes that “inspirational” is the best term to describe Vickers. “She’s everything—driven, smart and forward-thinking,” reflects Ng Yuen. “Jill really taught me to ‘think outside the box,’ to look at everything with a different perspective.”

In her first year at Carleton, Ng Yuen, BA/07, took the Women in Politics seminar led by Vickers—and two later courses—and credits this experience with motivating her to pursue further studies in gender and politics: Ng Yuen is currently a master’s student at the University of Ottawa.

A conference, entitled Women-Friendly Democracy, will be held by the Department of Political Science on campus in November to honour Vickers and her career. The panellists and participants include many of her former students and colleagues, including some men that Vickers wryly states that she “lured into gender studies.”

According to Macdonald, the two-day conference is an excellent opportunity for scholars to examine how political systems can be made more inclusive to the interests of women. Plus, “it is also a chance for former students like Nicole, colleagues and the Carleton University community to show their respect for Jill’s academic and social contributions.”

Women-Friendly Democracy conference on campus in November

The Women-Friendly Democracy conference will be held at Carleton University on November 9 and 10. The keynote lecturer is Professor Micheline de Sève of the Université du Québec à Montréal – a longtime professional colleague and friend of Professor Jill Vickers. Conference panellists are from Canadian universities as far away as Alberta. More information, including the conference program and list of panellists, is available at carleton.ca/polisci.

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