Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women: Tina Chen
Champion of equity, diversity and inclusion is one of seven UM faculty members named among Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women
Dr. Tina Chen, Distinguished Professor in the department of history has been named one of the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada for 2021.
Dr. Chen was the first person of colour and only the second woman to hold the position of department head of history at the University of Manitoba. Since joining UM in 1999, Dr. Chen has advocated at the department, faculty, and university level for equity, access, diversity, and inclusion. She works tirelessly with like-minded allies to push UM to prioritize these values and strategic direction, using her voice to critique oppression and exclusion in post-secondary educational institutions, particularly in relation to racism, patriarchy, and sexism.
“Holding a professorial position at a university is a privilege – and with privilege comes a responsibility to action for equity, justice, dignity,” says Chen. “The opportunity to think, collaborate, and organize with members of the UM Community, community organizations and collectives – and now also sport organizations– keeps me learning about diverse experiences of oppression and energizes me to do this work.”
Dr. Chen re-imagined department administrative roles to enhance student experiences, creating spaces to hear student voices and respond to evolving student needs. She carried this vision forward throughout her time in the department, working closely with student service offices and other colleagues to develop transparent and equitable processes to support learning, advance pedagogy, and promote academic integrity.
Under Dr. Chen’s leadership, equity, diversity, access, and inclusion were integrated into strategic planning initiatives, program review and everyday administrative processes. She established equity and diversity as a central component of the portfolio in the department of history and the faculty at large.
She approaches administration with an activist sensibility and as a voice of accountability. Dr. Chen supports and amplifies student, staff, faculty and community initiatives for social justice as central to the mission of post-secondary institutions.
Appointed UM Distinguished Professor in 2020, Dr. Chen is an internationally recognized scholar of modern Chinese history. She has held fellowships and visiting scholar positions in North America, Europe, Australia, and China. Dr. Chen advances understanding of the social, political, and cultural norms that structure people’s engagement with society and international movements. In her teaching and research, Dr. Chen critically focuses on those who have a voice in society and the struggles of those who don’t. Her research highlights systemic operation of oppressions linked to imperialism, capitalism, gender, and race.
“I am drawn to studying history because history interrogates how we come to know and understand the past, including who, how, where, and for what purpose particular stories and materials of ‘the past’ become valued in our present,” says Chen. “For me, understanding the work done to keep systems in place –and studying how power and privilege is maintained and challenged—is a reminder that each moment and set of relations has within it the political potential to be something else. So, history gives hope that transformation for social justice is possible.”
As a scholar-activist long committed to thinking with critical race theory and working toward anti-racist practices, Dr. Chen’s leadership voice has been further amplified this past year. She currently is recipient of a Teaching Award to co-teach the first course at UM on “Histories of Race and Anti-Racism in the Modern World”.
This year seven UM community members have been named to the WXN Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada.