Job Title: Gender Studies Faculty Lecturer at the University of Alberta
Why She’s Top 40: For making Edmonton a more inclusive, equality-minded city.
Guilty Pleasure: Old Hollywood films, Turner Classics, including: It Happened One Night, Now, Voyager, Gilda.
Cristina Stasia’s office at the University of Alberta is decorated with action heroes: Angelina Jolie’s character, Salt, Hit Girl from Mark Millar’s Kick-Ass comic series, Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. A poster of Bruce Willis from Die Hard rounds out the cast; a film Stasia asserts has many imitators, but no equal. Sitting in her office, surrounded by the posters, she is in the company of her peers.
Stasia is a hero for equality. Her impact can be felt in Edmonton’s shifting image, from what was seen as a redneck and sexist centre to a progressive and gender-inclusive metropolis. And she does this like any hero might; through personal action that inspires others.
Her powers lie in her ability to fit more volunteer hours in a week than us mere mortals. When not teaching gender studies classes at the University of Alberta, she serves on the Women’s Advisory Voices of Edmonton, which informs city council of how women experience Edmonton. She also serves on the Edmonton Transit Service Advisory Board, fundraises for the Strathearn Community League, chairs the board of Sexual Assault Voices of Edmonton and teaches Humanities 101 at Wings of Providence. She also founded and now chairs the Accessing Information not Myths group – a body that will be reviewing changes to the Alberta Education curriculum. She speaks at junior high and high schools about the sexualization of young people in pop culture and its impact on both girls’ and boys’ understanding of their sexualities.
Stasia’s students have followed her example. One went on to start an Alberta chapter for Hollaback, an anti-street harassment organization. Another is president of the U of A’s Medical Students for Choice group.
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“I want to encourage others to be their own action hero,” says Stasia. “If you see that the bad guys are swooping in, have a good one-liner ready and change things.”