Queen Bee PSA: A controversial study in 2017, showed how women in higher positions judge women in lower positions more severely. There are a couple theories surrounding this studied behaviour, but one theory attributes this attitude to be a direct correlation to sexism in the workforce. This means that due to the perception of positive work-related characteristics being inherently male, and the expectations placed on women’s behaviour, women can have a difficult time being more lenient and collaborative with their same-sex colleagues. The workforce landscape needs a change! The negative stigma attached to more feminine leadership traits (i.e. empathy, collaboration), which are assets to businesses, by shifting mindsets surrounding [“accepted”] leadership styles we can hope to move beyond this. Additionally, women can sometimes feel (subconsciously or consciously) that there is a “quota” for female leaders and are thus more inclined to judge other women more unforgivingly. Instead of viewing each other as competition and believing we cannot support one another because it would be detrimental to our individual success, let’s build each other up! By pulling other women down, we make it more difficult for real equality to take place.
“Every one of us has the power and the obligation to be a champion for girls around the world.” – Michelle Obama famously said at a Let Girls Learn event in Madrid, Spain in 2016.
Today, this statement still rings true and remains vital for the growth and betterment of our society. It is often times easier to tear down or forget about other women’s situations if they aren’t similar to our own or if they are women we view as competition. Making it less likely for women outside of your circle to get the vital support from their [female] peers; this generates a vicious cycle where women remain without a necessary part in their support system. However, if women are to succeed, we need the continuous support and encouragement from one another.
This week, we are highlighting six women from India and Canada who are doing just that!
Komal Singh: Reach for the [STEM] Stars
Komal Singh is an Indo-Canadian author. She is well-known for her best-selling book “Ara the Star Engineer” that encourages young girls to enter and pursue a career in STEM.
She completed her undergraduate degree in Computer Science at Delhi University, then moved to Canada to receive her masters in Computer Science from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia.
Her inspiration for writing “Ara the Star Engineer” stemmed from reading books to her daughter. She found that there wasn’t enough representation of women in STEM in children’s books.
Hayley Wickenheiser: Play, Run, Hit, and Succeed Like a Girl
Born in Saskatchewan, Canada, Hayley Wickenheiser started playing for Canada’s National Women’s team at just 15 years old.
She is the youngest person ever represent Canada at the Ice Hockey World Championship.
She has had an impressive career with an extensive amount of achievements. Throughout her career, Hayley has competed in 12 world championships, and has won five Olympic gold medals.
She was also selected to be Canada’s flag bearer at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
In a male dominated sport, Hayley was the first female player to score a point in a men’s professional hockey game, and the first woman to play and coach at NHL development camps.
Hayley Wickenheiser is passionate about motivating girls to continue playing sports. In collaboration with Girls Hockey Calgary and the City of Surrey, Hayley has founded The Canadian Tire Wickenheiser World Female Hockey Festival, aka WickFest. WickFest provides mentoring and support to young female athletes.
Additionally, she works with Plan International’s Because I am a girl, and Right To Play to encourage girls and youth to play sports.
In 2014, Hayley was appointed to the Order of Canada for her athletic achievements and her contributions to the growth of women’s hockey.
Neeta Ambani: More Women, More Money
She received her Bachelor of Commerce from Narsee Monjee College of Commerce and Economics.
She is the chairperson of The Reliance Foundation, a non-profit organization that takes on many societal problems such as education and healthcare, and works towards empowering women.
Through the Reliance Foundation, Neeta is working towards increasing the number of women in the workforce. India’s GDP could increase by 27% if the number of women was equal to the number of men in the workforce.
Rina Fraticelli: Diversifying Media to Reflect Society
Through Women in View, Rina studied women employment numbers in publicly funded Canadian media. In 2015, these reports stemmed into a three-year initiative with the Status of Women Canada, Directing Change, with the goal of greater equality for women in media.
Priyanka Chopra: Entrepreneurship is the Way
Born in India, Priyanka is now one of the most famous and highest paid Indian actresses.
She was also a major player in UNICEF’s “Deepshikha” campaign. This campaign mentored and taught girls and women in India the necessary skills to become entrepreneurs.
Priyanka became UNICEF’s global Goodwill Ambassador in 2016 following her work and advocacy for girls in India.
Sophie Grégoire Trudeau: Take Control of Your Future
Born in Montréal, Sophie attended McGill University, where she studied commerce, and received her bachelors in Communications at the Université de Montréal.
Sophie has worked with Plan Canada to launch the first ever – “International Day of the Girl”, a day dedicated to empowering girls around the world to change their story and take control of their future.
She is the official spokesperson for Fillactive, an organization that promotes a healthy life style through sports and encourages positive self-esteem among women.
She was also the spokesperson for a non-profit organization, Shield of Athena, dedicated to helping women and children that suffered domestic abuse.
We should all take a page from these women and ask ourselves: what are we doing to change the narrative? We, as women, have the power to shift these destructive attitudes – we don’t have to blindly adhere to the decades of perpetuated negativity towards our fellow female colleagues. Though our inherited feelings of rivalry to our workforce sisters may be sustained by innate structures built upon sexism, and all (men and women) need to work towards its improvement – women are ultimately at the heart of a much-needed change. It may not prove to be an easy journey, but together, we can and will create equality around the world.
To all the female leaders out there: what are you doing to empower your fellow womankind?