June 17, 2022

Meet our Newest Graduate: Laura Conrad!

Convocating June 2022 with a Master’s degree from UCalgary Department of Political Science
Downtown Calgary

Meet Our Newest Graduate!

Laura Conrad’s MA thesis was entitled “It Takes a Village: Candidate Recruitment in Alberta’s Municipalities” and written under the supervision of Dr. Jack Lucas.


Tell us a bit about your thesis! What was it about and what were its main arguments?

In my thesis I ask three central research questions: who recruits candidates into municipal politics, what effect does this recruitment have on an individual’s decision to seek elected office, and what are the gendered implications of this recruitment? To answer these questions I use data from the annual Canadian Municipal Barometer survey as well as interviews with candidates running In Alberta’s municipal elections last year. I find that candidates’ personal connections as well as current and former politicians are largely responsible for recruiting candidates at the local level. This recruitment is especially important for serious candidates in making their decision to run for office. I also find that there are notable differences between women and men candidates and their experiences with recruitment which helps to explain women’s underrepresentation at the municipal level. However, I also find evidence to suggest that women are just as politically ambitious as men, but this ambition is hampered by existing institutional and structural barriers.

L. Conrad graduation

Any favourite memories from your research or at UCalgary Political Science you’d like to share?

For my research I was able to conduct Interviews with candidates running in the 2021 municipal elections across the province. In total, I interviewed 88 candidates. This was such a special experience because I got to talk to so many people who are very passionate about their communities. And having just moved here from Winnipeg, this was a great way to learn more about the province and what it has to offer!

Tell us about your new job!

I was hired with Natural Resources Canada through their two-year Policy Analyst Recruitment and Development Programme in Ottawa. Starting In September, I will be working in the Office of Energy Research and Development where I will be helping with the transition away from diesel-reliant vehicles. That rotation will last one year and then I will move to a different department within NRCan for my second year!

Any final words of advice?

The department is a wonderful place. Take advantage of any opportunity you're given and get to know your fellow grad students; you'll meet people you will consider friends for life.

Congratulations Laura Conrad on your Master’s degree!

To find out more about our current and past graduate students, please visit the Political Science website.