Words: Noor Shehata
Graphics: Magdalena Kincaid
The media has been referring to 2018 as the “year of women” and rightfully so. Women are finally speaking up about what they have been going through and paving paths for future generations of women. It has been and still is a constant struggle for us to attain respect from our male counterparts but “times are changing”! There has always been a stigma surrounding “women’s duties”, which usually relegates us to bearing children, raising said children and making sandwiches. But there is so much more that we can do.
The world is rapidly advancing, and the competition is insane. But is there a fair chance for women when they are entering fields that are mainly dominated by men? The answer is no. Although women are breaking the stigmas, becoming engineers, working in finance and tech industries and becoming CEOs, it is significantly harder for them than men. The percentage of women in male dominated fields is less than 25%, according to Statistics Canada, and breaking in to those industries is very difficult. Women are banding together and using their collective voice to share stories of harassment and unfair treatment in an effort to control the narrative and change the way women are perceived.
Even though we see women in technology making massive advancements for the betterment of society. Even though in 2016, women accounted for 21% of the Canadian Police. And even though there are women in virtually every profession you can think of making strides, our credibility is still questioned. So what now you ask? We stay the course and continue to fight to be heard and most importantly, acknowledged.
Shifting The Mindset
Working in male dominated fields can be intimidating but in order to enact change we need to be proactive and supportive, like an ecosystem in which each thing supports the next to keep the system healthy and operating. It will also require commitment and a kind of fearlessness. Part of the reason this movement took so long is because of the repercussions we faced. There are many women who face serious backlash for voicing their concerns. The recent “Time’s Up” campaign is proof of that, showing that many women who did speak up were effectively blacklisted and had to give up everything they had worked for.
As well, some women stand to lose more than others. For instance, in many cases working class women quite literally cannot afford to voice their concerns as the potential fallout could irrevocably ruin their lives and the lives of their families; which is why coming together, fearlessly and irrespective of profession or ‘class’, in support of one another is the only way to be the change we need to see.
While it isn’t our responsibility to destroy the patriarchy or wipe out toxic masculinity there are many things we can do to increase awareness, particularly in men, and change societal attitudes and beliefs about women.
By encouraging men to take part in seminars about women in leadership roles and what is deemed appropriate workplace behavior is a great way to trigger consciousness. According to Forbes magazine, some of the highest ranked CEOs are women, such as Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors and Ginni Rometty, IBM. By exposing men and women to these examples, the collective consciousness is raised and we are able to occupy positions formerly coveted by men.
Strive For Equality
The fight for equality is ongoing, but we have to fight harder now more than ever. When one approaches things from fear, it will only keep us stagnant, which is why we have to let it go, as hard as it may be. By striving together and empowering each other, the results are bound to be phenomenal. If not for us today, then for the future generation of little girls with ambitions and and dreams. As G.D Anderson said, “feminism isn’t about making women strong, women are already strong. It is about changing the way the world perceives that strength”.