One of our philosophies is ‘if you see me, you can be me.’ So, if women can see themselves in a role, they believe they too can fill it. The actions people take on International Women’s Day can help empower that philosophy. It’s a day to create powerful and prosperous change across the world by showcasing these things.
“For me, International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate and showcase accomplishments of women from all backgrounds worldwide. And it’s a way to use these accomplishments to provide women of any age with role models.” Fifth-year student Angelica Peters is a role model. She began her co-op with The Prosperity Project in August of 2020. Founded in May of 2020, this not-for-profit organization was formed to address the pandemic's disproportionate effects on Canadian women, applying an intersectional identity and inclusivity lens to all its work. “One of our philosophies is ‘if you see me, you can be me.’ So, if women can see themselves in a role, they believe they too can fill it. The actions people take on International Women’s Day can help empower that philosophy. It’s a day to create powerful and prosperous change across the world by showcasing these things.”
Angelica’s work includes assisting with the organization’s most extensive undertaking, contributing research for hundreds of educational services through an online website, with the primary goal of “increasing the labour force participation and graduation rates of women in STEM and skilled trades. Also, to increase the number of women in leadership and decision-making roles.” The Prosperity Project is working to link Canadian women to economic prosperity and would like to see women’s labour force participation increase by 3%. Part of their work revolves around defeating underrepresentation. Angelica describes the project further, “They try to include all Canadian women, including Indigenous women, women of colour, refugees, women with disabilities and women who identify as lgbtq2s+ in their reporting. We see an explicit need to link all Canadian women with prosperity and believe that gender equality initiatives are important to economic recovery, during pre- and post-recovery periods of the pandemic.”
Angelica also worked on finding role models for women in the workforce and connecting with 120 of Canada’s largest organizations to collect data. In the end, The Prosperity Project built relationships with forty-eight companies and presented intersectional data looking at women's representation in leadership roles, from top management and the trajectory leading up to executive positions during the COVID crisis.
Angelica is proud of the work that she has accomplished with The Prosperity Project. “I contribute to work that assisted with the publication of the annual gender diversity data tracking report, called the ‘Zero Report.’” The Zero Report was given this name to symbolize starting from ground zero with gender and diversity tracking while also alluding to creating a society with zero barriers for women. The report can be found on the organization's website. “We’ve started a crucial conversation. We’ve given people a way to collect this diversity data moving forward.”
A high-level glance at the numbers indicates that men are generally more represented than women. Women of colour and women with disabilities make up even less of the Canadian labour force. The Prosperity Project would like to see these numbers even out more as years pass and empower organizations to make real change by giving them simple steps to implement in their policy. “Organizations with more diversity end up more successful,” Angelica explained, adding, “We started the crucial conversation Canada-wide on collecting diversity data. We helped organizations improve their diversity and inclusion efforts because we essentially showed them the pathway if they weren’t already doing so.”
For Angelica, co-op is a way to learn new things. “I learned something new every single day. I feel like every task I do is contributing to a bigger picture. When I started, I never would have envisioned myself here, but it’s amazing that I am where I am now.” This opportunity has also inspired confidence. “You start out the first couple of weeks having no idea what you’re doing. By the time you’ve been there six months, you’ve become this super confident person who believes in what they can accomplish in the future and day to day. You become someone who is ready to take what the world throws at you. For me, that included my name listed as a contributor in a national report. That’s what can be made possible with co-op.”
Angelica's general major in the humanities and the liberal arts philosophy of the University of Lethbridge allowed her to take a diverse range of classes across many disciplines and explore opportunities outside the classroom. “Studying multiple disciplines allows me to incorporate diverse perspectives into my co-op work,” she explained, and in 2018 she took advantage of the summer Spanish immersion program, where she wrote a blog entirely in Spanish while attending a school in Spain. “That’s what I love about the University of Lethbridge. When you think you have found every opportunity, you end up finding another one. So, keep exploring!”
When asked what she wishes she could tell her younger self, Angelica answered, “just go for things without thinking twice. Don’t be scared. Blink your eyes and go for it. Even if you have no idea where you’re going to end up. Over time I’ve realized that’s how you accomplish things!” For any young woman looking for direction, “Confidence is key. Believe in yourself and pave the way forward. As a young woman, I needed more confidence and now I’ve finally found that. If there’s anything getting in your way, just don’t let it. By accomplishing your goals, you can create change in the world.”