Atlantic Business Magazine released a list of six trailblazers: women who have overcome cultural and gender barriers to pursue their dreams. The list includes two Dalhousie alumni, heralded for paving “a path that makes it easier for other women to follow in their footsteps.”

Alexa McDonough, hailed as one of Atlantic Business' trailblazersAlexa McDonough (BA’65, MSW’67, LLD’09) became the first woman to lead a political party in Nova Scotia. She led the province’s New Democratic Party (NDP) from 1980-94 and the federal NDP from 1995-2003. McDonough continued to serve as Member of Parliament for Halifax until 2008.

“I feel strongly about having voices and faces that represent the spectrum (of Canada) and traditionally women have been underrepresented,” said McDonough in an interview with Atlantic Business Magazine. “We also need a wide range of racial and religious backgrounds.”

Catherine Callbeck, hailed as one of Atlantic Business' trailblazersSenator Catherine Callbeck (BEd’63) was first elected to the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island in 1974 and entered federal politics as the Member of Parliament for Malpeque, P.E.I. in 1988. In 1993, she was elected premier of P.E.I., serving as the first female premier of her home province and only the second in the nation. Senator Callbeck then served on the Senate of Canada from 1997 until her retirement in 2014.

“I had several people tell me that they would not vote for me because I was a woman or that politics was no place for a woman, but that did not deter me,” said Senator Callbeck.

Both alumni helped advance the role of women in Canadian politics through their elections into leadership roles previously held only by men. Their perseverance and many successes in the face of adversity are an inspiration to women following in their footsteps.

“My advice to women would be to find an area they feel passionate about, get all the education they can, work hard, develop self-confidence, find mentors, make their dreams come true and have fun doing it,” said Senator Callbeck. “Never give up.”

Read more in Atlantic Business’ “Trailblazers” on