For as long as the actuarial profession has existed, women have been involved. Ada Lovelace (b 1815) a brilliant mathematician, worked with Charles Babbage on the development of his analytical engine, and specified a method for using the engine which has been recognised as the world’s first computer program. They worked together modernising mathematics, statistics and analytics in the UK and are thought to have created the first actuarial tables.
Lucy Jane Wright in the USA was appointed actuary for Union Mutual Life in Boston in 1866. Emma Cushman was the first female Fellow of the Actuarial Society of America in 1895 and Dorothy Davis was the first woman to complete exams with the Institute of Actuaries in 1923.
Caribbean contribution to this incredible history starts with Muriel Mudie (1897-1993) who was born in Jamaica. In 1925, after the death of her father, she moved to Canada and started working as an actuarial student in the insurance industry. She gained her associateship in 1929 and her fellowship in 1937, earning the distinction of being the first woman in Canada to qualify as a fellow. She was admitted to the newly created Society of Actuaries when the American Institute of Actuaries and the Actuarial Society of America merged in 1949, and she was there at the creation of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries in 1965. During her 40+ year career she gained recognition as a specialist in annual statements and life company taxation.
Today, women represent 26% of actuaries worldwide. The CAA is extremely proud that 143 of our 294 members, 49%, are women. Evenly balanced therefore contributing broader thought and greater strength. We are world leaders in diversity, equality and inclusion.
Some of our women members are well known: Our “Founding Mother” Daisy Coke, Cathy Lyn, Lisa Wade, Michelle Chong Tai Bell and President Simone Brathwaite who’ve established us on the international stage, and those others at the forefront of the CAA throughout our history. We are incredibly grateful for the time and energy they have spent over the years to bring us to where we are today as one of the most recognised and respected small actuarial associations in the world.
However, there are many other dedicated women who have contributed significantly over time to building the CAA and, on this International Women’s Day, we highlight some who have served above and beyond:
Bertha Pilgrim: After serving two terms as Treasurer, Bertha did not step back from service. Bertha has been a stalwart of our P&C Committee for some time and serves as our Observer on the IAA General Insurance Forum. She is also a member of our recently constituted Climate Change Committee and Chair of our Climate Index Feasibility Task Force.
Sapna Chatlani: Sapna keeps the machine going. Now in her third term as Treasurer, she not only performs that function precisely and with attention to detail, but also brings her sense of reason and logic to many other areas. In addition to her duties as Treasurer, Sapna also serves on the Life Committee and the Conference Oversight Committee.
Nicola Barrett: Simply put, Nicola gets things done. Under her guidance, the Common Standards Committee took on the daunting task of reformatting all our Actuarial Practice Standards for consistency and completed the project on time. Nicola is currently one of the key people laying the groundwork for our proposed Societal Steering Committee.
Simone Balkissoon: Simone served as Conference Chair in 2011 and as Secretary/Treasurer in 2011-13 under our old system. Simone has continued contributing her time and expertise, now as Co-Chair of our busy Life Committee and as a member of our Social Security Committee.
Cathy Allen: Cathy has worked quietly and steadily for many years in every role and on every project she has been called on to undertake. She has served several times on our executive body and currently serves as Board Secretary and Chair of the Conference Oversight Committee. Cathy is one of those reliable individuals who are invaluable to any organisation.
Shera Mungroo: Shera chaired our 2015 Conference Committee and served on the 2015-17 Executive Council. She also served until recently as Chair of our P&C Committee and led the creation of APS5 – General Insurance Premium Related Liabilities. Shera’s steady contribution over the years has served our P&C members well.
Stacey Rene: Stacey joined the CAA as our first member from Curaçao. She immediately asked about the possibility of hosting a conference there but was told that the conference would need a local team to handle on site planning. She made the request every year thereafter, each time with one or two additional members. In 2019, with a membership of 8, Curaçao held one of our most successful conferences ever with attendance equalling that of conferences held in larger countries and professional advertising, marketing and event planning all engaged at no cost. Thanks to the sustained efforts of one person, we now have a small but vibrant Curaçao cohort.
Saskia Monsels Holtuin: Saskia was the driving force behind our 2016 Conference and served on our 2019-21 Board of Directors. She keeps us up to date with events in Suriname and is our go to person when reaching out to contacts or speakers there or in the Netherlands.
Marcia Tam Marks: During Marcia’s Term as Secretary/Treasurer 15 years ago, she put together the groundwork for the CAA Secretariat. Over the intervening years Marcia has been willing and able to contribute her time and experience when called upon.
And last, but far from least, President Elect Judy Veira: Judy is our only member from the OECS. Her steady and precise way of doing things served us well during her term as Vice President in 2017-19 and as a member of our Social Security Committee. Judy’s strong management and organisational skills will certainly ensure our way forward.
Thanks also to our other women who have given their valuable time and knowledge to serve on our Executive Bodies, our Committees, our Conference Teams and so many other areas over the thirty years of our existence.
Not to be forgotten are those at the start of their careers who have recognised the importance of volunteering and given their time to take up the baton. Thank you, Nikita Gibson, Toni-Marie Bobart, Bari-Ann Bryant, Dionne Knight, Josanne Reid, Justine Powell and all the others poised ready to take us into the future.
Here are a few of the special events celebrating International Women’s Day:
- IAA Special Events Series of Videos throughout March
- Conference of Consulting Actuaries Celebrating Women in Actuarial Leadership at 10:00am CT on the 9th.
- Society of Actuaries in Ireland In Conversation With . . . on YouTube
- First Atlantic How Women Impact Digital Technology Adoption in the Caribbean on LinkedIn at 10:00am EST on the 8th.
- UN Women Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow
The information on this page does not necessarily reflect the opinions, standards or policies of the CAA. Data included in graphs has been obtained from several sources the accuracy of which cannot be guaranteed by the CAA. The CAA assumes no responsibility or liability for the accuracy or completeness of content contained in any linked site.