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Worst city for women?

Here’s how Windsor can improve. . .

As published in The Windsor Star: October 20, 2016

Windsor is the worst city in Canada for women, according to a new report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

The think tank cites a number of factors, including the high number of male-dominated industries and the lack of educational attainment for women.

Through my business, I coach many women who want to move into more responsible leadership roles and are stretching in many ways.

Some of them are reluctant to accept promotions when they are already stressed by having to juggle their careers along with caring for children and sometimes aging parents as well. They often assume that it is their sole responsibility to care for the family. A read of Sheryl Sandberg’s book ‘Lean In’ will illustrate this point with excellent data and research.

Women, we need to give ourselves permission to negotiate a more equitable sharing of responsibility.

Fathers often fear repercussions if they ask for time off to care for a family member. Some report that their employer frowns upon this type of request.

For this to change, employers need to ensure they are treating men and women equally with respect to time off for family responsibilities, such as medical appointments.

Windsor is a city with a large manufacturing sector. More women are working in non-traditional careers such as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Manufacturing) and, while it is not easy for them to speak up for equality in male-dominated workplaces, many brave pioneers are doing so.

I have worked in a male-dominated workplace and it is not easy to advocate for equality. I was fortunate enough to have a male boss who supported gender equality and this was a huge support to me.

We need “male champions” who will support the women who take these brave steps and who recognize and support the leadership abilities of women.

The research also points out that women are underrepresented in the political arena in Windsor.

Windsor has only 23% female representation at the political level while London has 32% There have been other points in time when we had more representation, and I hope we get there again in 2018. It is not easy to be a politician and there are many sacrifices these people make for public service.

Let’s find ways to support our women who choose public service so that we achieve more equality and a true sense of “belonging.”

Our daughters need to see the value of stepping up into important roles which make our city and community stronger.

Women believe that they need to be perfect before they apply for a job or signal their interest in a promotion. They tell me that they are missing one of the qualifications required in the job posting so they won’t apply. The men I coach apply for the job, and in the interview they tell the employer how they will learn the skill or get the certification required. Men often signal their career aspirations to their boss while women hold back hoping that they will be recognized for doing a good job.

Women need to come forward earlier and share their career aspirations if they desire to move to senior roles.

In addition, some women are leading in their entrepreneurial endeavours and we have much to learn from them.

Women: you do not need to be perfect in all aspects of your life; be confident enough to reach out to ask for help from your spouse/partner and then tell your boss what you need to get ahead.

And, men: be our partners in helping us reach our potential. Let your “locker room talk” be courageous enough to boast about the great women in our city and how they are leading Windsor into the future.

Ronna Hope Warsh is owner of Windsor-based Ronna Hope Warsh Leadership Coaching and Consulting