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What is a “women’s publication?”

As the editor of a women’s publication, I often struggle with its content. Should I appeal to the masses and publish fashion and beauty tips, tips for great sex, or outline the best weight loss diets? Or should I break the mould?

When Women’s Post was founded in 2002, it was done so with a single purpose — to showcase talented women across Canada. The founder of this publication, Sarah Thomson, started it after noticing the disappointing selection of magazines targeting women. They were all pitting woman against woman, competing for the newest fashion trends and workout regimes.

Women’s Post was meant to show that women are interested in more than just their looks. The publication would feature profiles of professionals, asking what they do to help other women succeed in their respective industries. Since then, Women’s Post has grown into so much more. We still feature talented women and have a clear focus on mentorship, but we also publish articles on city politics, the environment, technology, business, and, yes, fashion.

I draw the line at weight loss diets though.

The key is balance — admitting that women are interested in a variety of things, whether that is the latest hairstyles and trends or the rising stock prices. It’s also about recognizing the influential power the media has on women, particularly young girls.

An image has been circulating social media over the past few weeks that has caused a lot of outrage, both inside and outside the newsroom. The image shows the front page covers of two different magazines: “Girls Life” and “Boys Life”.

Girls Life focused on makeup, hair, and overall beauty tips while the Boys Life cover featured job opportunities in the sciences and in technology. While the magazines are not owned by the same company, it displayed some of the blatant gender differences that are engrained in the media.

In Canada, we do a slightly better job. Our “women’s magazines” have articles that encompass a variety of interests, from work advice to recipes. Of course, there will always be specific fitness and health magazines that target specific female demographics, but Canadian publications seem to understand they don’t need to compete with these pre-existing celebrity gossip magazines.

Women’s Post proudly joins the list of Canadian news organizations that have come to understand that gender doesn’t dictate interests. But, I’m even more proud to be part of a publication that also focuses on making sure others know this too. Women’s Post profiles women from every profession, focusing not only on the challenges they had to overcome to get where they are now, but also their many accomplishments.

Women compete enough without the aide of rows of magazines telling them they could be thinner or smarter. With an ever-growing wage gap and the constant discrimination women face in the workplace, isn’t it more important to celebrate womanhood rather than destroy it?

Women’s Post strives to not only be a publication that supports and showcases great women, but a publication where anyone, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation, can find news that interests them. I truly believe this is the future of journalism — anything else is simply insulting, don’t you think?

Fall fashion #trending: oversized clothing is in!

I love the fall — pumpkin spice lattes, the changing of the leaves, and of course the return of cute boots. It is the one season you don’t have to worry about pouring rain, watery sludge, or below-freezing storms. Not to mention the sweltering heat wave this summer has brought us.

This changing of the seasons also signifies the end of shorts, tank tops, and bathing suits — all of the nice, but tight, fashion styles. Am I the only one ready for the return of jeans, light overcoats, and scarves? But, to my incredible delight, the biggest trend this fall is oversized clothing. That’s right, you can now flatter your body under comfortable, yet fashionable, layers.

Here are a few examples of top trending oversized outfits for this fall:

The Poncho: No, these ponchos are not water proof, but they are fashionable! These ponchos act like a blazer or overcoat, and can be worn with tank tops, t-shirts, and long-sleeve tops. They can add style, texture, and colour to your outfit. Depending on the style, they can also be appropriate for work as well as a casual outing with friends. The best part? Ponchos have the added benefit of being incredibly comfortable and flattering for all body types.

Le Chateau, $89.95
Le Chateau, $89.95

 

The Sweater: Who doesn’t love an oversized sweater? These items usually fall well below the hip and can be worn with pants or leggings depending on the length. If these sweaters are light and a bit short, try to layer it with a blouse or a tank top of a different colour. If it is long, try to wear it with your hair up and a chunky necklace. These sweaters are great for long-hour work days, outings with friends, or a casual walk on a cool fall evening.

MANGO, $309.95
MANGO, $309.95

 

The Suit: Gone are the days of tight pants and blazers that push your breasts forward. This fall business style is all about comfort. Loose pants and a top to match, maybe paired with a belt or some colourful jewelry, will make a true statement in the boardroom. The outfit extremely comfortable — allowing you to move, stretch and sit — and no one will tell you “no” when you are dressed to impress.

Zara
Zara

 

The Blouse: Heading to the market or going on a walk with your beau? The long blouse or plaid shirt is making yet another come back. Simple, comfortable, and stylish, you can’t really go wrong with this choice. Pair it with a single-coloured jacket, some skinny jeans or leggings, and a pair of boots within the same colour scheme and you have the perfect fall date outfit.

Aritzia, $110
Aritzia, $110

The Trousers: I’m in love with these trousers! Sleek and stylish, they take comfortable business style to a whole new level. They generally flare out at the thigh, creating a straight edge look that really works with either heels or flats. A lot of boutiques now carry these trousers — in multiple colours and styles. Just remember not to pair patterns with patterns when choosing a top.

Zara, $69.90
Zara, $69.90

The Wrap: Wear whatever you want, and then cover yourself in these beautiful bohemian wraps. Part poncho, part blanket, these wraps are perfect for evenings. Twist it to create a scarf, wrap it around your shoulder like a pashmina. The possibilities are truly endless. Something like this would be great for cold offices. Leave it at work and remain stylish while warm!

Three Bird Nest, $56 + shipping
Three Bird Nest, $56 + shipping

 

What are you wearing this fall? Let us know in the comments below!

Headline Coffee — the future of journalism?

You get up in the morning, grab the newspaper (or your Ipad/tablet for your digital news), and then saunter into the kitchen to make your brewed beverage of choice.

But, wait! There is no coffee beside that fancy Keurig machine. What now?

The Toronto Star has you covered. Tuesday, the news organization launched Headline Coffee, a delivery service that will bring ethically-sourced ground or whole-bean coffee from around the world directly to your doorstep. No need to make that timmies run!

For $20, subscribers will get a bag of coffee — good for about 35 cups — from a new single-origin country each month. Those beans are then roasted locally to perfection.

At first glance, the idea of a news organization selling something other than news seems a bit strange. But, amid job cuts and declining advertising revenue, this seems like a brilliant way to make a little extra cash. Headline Coffee is disrupting the system and shattering the illusion — the news industry is in trouble. Despite what people may think, news publications can’t hire employees, or keep the ones they do have for that matter. Printing and staffing a large paper is expensive, and without extra revenue, there is no way the Star, no matter it’s reputation, can maintain its product.

Like many smaller publications have figured out, it’s time to embrace this reality and get creative. Magazines like Spacing are supporting themselves with private donations, launch parties, and memorabilia sales. Sponsored content is becoming the norm and there is nothing editors can do about it.

Cue Headline Coffee: a unique and effective way to entice readers to help pay some of the costs for a larger news conglomerate. It also just happens to target their specific audience — news and coffee lovers. I can attest to being part of that audience and I have to say that I am intrigued by this offer.

As the Star said in their press release announcing their new Headline Coffee, “whether they relax and read their newspaper at home, clutch it during their commute, enjoy a quick news update on their mobile phone or swipe through Toronto Star Touch on their tablet, reading the Toronto Star and enjoying a cup of coffee are parts of their day for about 75 per cent of the Star’s readers.”

It will be interesting to see if the quality and quantity of news increases as coffee sales rise. Will Headline Coffee help the Star stay afloat? Who knows, but in the meantime, let’s brew a good cup of Joe, settle into a comfortable chair with our paper, and see what happens.

5 types of dresses you can wear to work

The sun is finally out and the flowers are starting to sprout! It’s here Canada!!! Spring is here! And you know what that means: It’s time to shed those layers!

But, what’s considered professional enough for the workplace? I wouldn’t recommend shorts (unless they are the dressy sort), but when it’s hot outside, the worst thing in the world is having to wear a full pant-suit. On these days, the spring dress is the perfect option.

Here are five styles of dresses that are acceptable for the workplace:

The business-classy: A fitted dress with a belt is a workplace classic. It’s professional, yet stylish, and creates an air of confidence. This particular dress can be worn with a blazer and a pair of black pumps, or dressed down with a light cardigan and sandals.

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Le Chateau, $150

The sleeves: This year, sleeves are in. There is no need to go strapless or sleeveless, two options which may not always be appropriate for a business meeting. If you don’t want to deal with blazers or cardigans, try a dress with sleeves. They come off as professional, yet chic, and they are really easy to accessorize.

Zara, $69.99
Zara, $69.99

The floral tunic: A lot of women shy away from patterns and floral patterns, especially when it comes to work wear. But, never fear! You can absolutely rock the floral tunic at that business meeting. The best part is that florals exude springtime and will lift everyone’s spirits. Just make sure to pair it with some simple accessories and bold colours.

Mango, $89.95
Mango, $89.95

The bold colour flare: On the other side, there is nothing wrong with a bold-coloured flare dress. This is yet another simple classic that can be dressed up or down depending on your need. It is the most elegant of the options, and the short sleeves eliminate the need for a shawl or blazer. Pair it with some even bolder jewelry.

Cleo, $99.90
Cleo, $99.90

The maxi-dress: These dresses may come off as a bit too casual for work, but they are becoming much more trendy. This type of ensemble is great for an office setting — it’s comfortable and flattering on most body types. Try wearing a bold or dark coloured lipstick to make the outfit more high-fashion.

French Connection, $328
French Connection, $328

 

Do you have a favourite spring dress? Let us know what they look like in the comments below!

 

5 ways to manage stress at work

It can happen to the best of us: you read an email and realize your boss isn’t happy with your work; you made a mistake that costs your company money; you get into an argument with a co-worker over something you know is right. It is enough to make you frustrated, stressed, anxious, and above all else, unhappy.

No matter the job, work can be stressful. But, it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are five ways to manage your stress in the workplace:

Don’t respond to your email right away: Businesses are operating in a nearly completely digital world and there is an expectation that everyone should be by their computers or phones 24/7. Just because your phone notifications are buzzing, doesn’t mean you should respond. This is especially true if the email is negative. The problem with email is that the tone of the author is unknown, so people start to imagine possible meanings behind the words written. An email may read negative, but it may be a mere observation or an idea. Take a moment to distract yourself and then return to the email. You may find the message less negative this time and you can craft your response accordingly. If you are really concerned, call or meet the sender in person to discuss their request. That way you can judge the tone for yourself.

Schedule breaks: Everyone does it — works through lunch, stays an hour longer in the evening, or offers to do extra assignments. The “I don’t leave work until my work is done” mentality may be good for productivity, but it isn’t good for your mental health, especially if your goals are set really high. There will always be work to do, so take 15 minutes and go for a walk. Get some coffee, read the news, talk with a friend, or just enjoy the sunshine for a bit. That way, you can return to work refreshed and ready to start your next project.

Breath deeply: Sometimes, you won’t be in a scenario where you can take a walk or wait 15 minutes before reacting to a situation. If you feel your breath getting shorter and your head getting lighter, this could be a sign of stress and/or anxiety. Take a step back (figuratively) and take five deep breaths. If anyone interrupts you, just say you need a minute to gather your thoughts. Then, speak calmly and confidently. Keep your tone neutral if possible. You’ve got this!

Train your body and mind: Exercise, both physical and mental, can help calm the nerves and maintain focus. Doing 20 minutes of yoga or starting your day with a mantra of gratitude can help focus your mind on the tasks you have to do that day, while going for a run or a walk after work (or on your lunch break) can help burn off steam. The body responds to stress in different ways — headaches, stomach aches, and sore muscles are some examples. By keeping your blood moving and dedicating half an hour a day to physical activity, it can help prevent those type of side effects. Not to mention it will keep you in shape.

Try to be more creative: Sometimes it’s not the job, but the job environment that causes stress. Try to make it your own and be more creative with your work. Don’t be afraid to approach your boss with a new idea or project. Most of the time, this gumption will be well received, even if your idea isn’t. When you aren’t at work, do something fun. Simply crashing in front of your television won’t help clear your mind of the activities of the day. Why not try your hand at painting or gardening, read a book, or play a new sport? All of these activities will increase your energy, confidence, and ability to problem solve.

Above all else, remember to be confident in your abilities. It’s okay to make mistakes and to stand up for yourself. It’s also okay to take some time for yourself to ensure you are less stressed and are able to be productive during the hours you do work.

Do you have any tips for relieving stress at work? Let us know in the comments below.

Woman of the Week: Beatrix Dart

Beatrix Dart believes that women are the better innovators, even though they’ve been cultivated to remain in the shadows.

“They are more creative in their thinking, but they are also more detail-oriented and willing to follow up on the smaller components, and that makes or breaks a good project idea,” Dart explained. “Women also have the advantage of being better in collaboration and not being afraid to raise their hands and say they need help. There is not as much pride or ego involved.”

Dart is a professor of strategy and executive director of the Initiative for Women in Business at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. She exudes passion for her field and her energy is contagious. Speaking with her in her office at U of T, her mid-morning snack — yogurt from the cafe downstairs — remained untouched as she spoke with great animation about the future of women in business.

Dart’s list of academia accomplishments is impressive: She has a degree in physics and quantitative economics, a degree in information sciences, and a PhD in Economics and statistics. “I was a very quantitative person by background. I felt very comfortable in that environment because it was really logical.”

Her first job after graduation was with McKinsey & Company, an international management consulting firm. Dart fell in love with the job, but she found it challenging to move from the intensive, solitary lifestyle of PhD research to a more active role in public relations.

“That changed my perspective — I went from thinking that being brilliant means being logical, analytical, and smart, to being brilliant actually means being a person people can trust, want to work with, and who will take the recommendation and move forward.”

Dart’s first introduction into gender politics was when she became pregnant with her first child. She was approached by McKinsey & Company and asked to participate in an internal project about how to keep female consultants once they become mothers. The results showed a definite bias towards women after pregnancy.

“Suddenly people make assumptions about you and suddenly all these gender barriers you’ve heard about kick in. They really exist,” Dart said. “Who is taking care of the child? Who is taking time off to go to the doctor? The assumptions are always made for you. They think: ‘Oh, I don’t think she will be ready to take on this project because now she has a newborn at home.’ They will not even ask you.”

This internal project kickstarted a deeper passion within Dart for gender studies. When she returned to academia at Rotman, she noticed a lack of women in the program. This spurred the Initiative for Women in Business, a set of programs that Dart helped found in 2008 specifically tailored to advance the career of women in business. The initiative now has 1,500-2000 professional women within their network. The most popular program is the back to work course, which helps women who have been out of the industry for three to eight years return to the market.

Dart also chairs the steering committee for the 30% Club in Canada, an organization that works to help women get on corporate boards.

One of the biggest challenges for women in the workforce is salary negotiation, ensuring they receive fair compensation for the work they produce. The wage discrepancies we hear about on a daily bases do exist, and lack of negotiations is one of the reasons why.

“It’s true, unfortunately, that women are not as strong at negotiating on their own behalf in particular,” she said. “We are not cultivated to market ourselves and toot our own horn.”

Dart cited a study conducted by Catalyst Canada that reviewed the salaries of MBA graduates. It was found that women, on average, received anywhere between $3,000 and $5,000 less as a starting salary, simply because of a lack of negotiating.

“The worst part of that, if you think of how a salary develops over years, you get a percentage increase,” Dart said. “So if you don’t negotiate the same starting salary, it goes up! Your salary gap gets bigger and bigger over the years.”

Dart offered up some tips for women who don’t feel comfortable with salary negotiations. The first is to change your mindset — pretend you are negotiating on behalf of someone you love or someone who is dependent on you. An example is a child or a senior parent. “We are actually viciously good negotiators if we negotiate on behalf of our kids. We will ask for the world.”

Another is to always ask “what else can you do for me.” Those seven words can open up the conversation and the employer may offer a salary increase, extended vacation days, or maybe an allowance for transportation. The biggest challenge, according to Dart, is who puts out the first number, something that is called setting the ceiling. Dart suggests allowing the employer to do so by asking what the typical range of pay is for the position. If that doesn’t work, make sure to do your research. Find out what people are making in comparable positions. Dart suggestions the website glassdoor.ca, which offers standard salary ranges for various positions in different companies. And finally, always suggest the higher range and have an argument to back up why you are worth it.

For Dart, equality in salary and within the workforce isn’t the only thing she is fighting for. “If I had a magic wand and I could change one thing, I probably would try to create more equality for men and women at the home front.” She is currently reading “Unfinished Business” by Anne-Marie Slaughter, a book that offers up a solution found in Denmark and Sweden, a solution Dart firmly believes Canada should implement — mandatory paid parental leave for both parents in exchange for government subsidy.

When she isn’t working, Dart loves to travel and explore different cultures. Her favourite place to visit, to date, is India.

The Virgin Way: Inquisitive – Curious – Passionate

I decided to take Richard Branson’s The Virgin Way on holiday with me because a friend suggested I might find him a kindred spirit. I’m not sure if this is because I think having fun is just as important as making an income, but I did find that his attitude towards life is something a lot of people would do well to follow.

The Virgin Way: Everything I know about leadership reflects the positive attitude Branson has carried throughout his life. His ability to learn from failure and take risks are the foundations of a successful business leader able to adapt to any situation. Branson also believes in having fun, and some of his April fools stunts had me rolling off my beach chair in fits of giggles.

The Virgin Way and the choice of business name seems to pee all over the entire British class structure — fantastic, fun and edgy. Carefree and curious about life, Branson enjoys making people happy. If there is a secret to be learned from him, it is that true wealth comes from the happiness you create. Making someone smile, laugh, or even helping your staff excel is what  “The Virgin Way” is all about. The book is filled with stories about how offering good service and having fun go hand in hand.

I remember my first boss at a gas station telling me to smile until I felt it or I’d lose my job. He wasn’t exactly a great people person, but he taught me that serving people and smiling has a real impact on how you see the world.  I went on to build a multi-million dollar company putting convenient stores into gas stations, and I know that our success wasn’t just due to the fact that we were first in the industry to combine these two businesses. It was tied to the fact that staff had fun and took pride in providing terrific customer service. As I was reading Branson’s book, I couldn’t help nodding in agreement … when I wasn’t giggling.

Branson demonstrates that true success isn’t about being focused on making dollars, but more about creating happiness — happy staff, great experiences, happy customers. Taking risk, shaking things up, not taking yourself too seriously and above all making other people happy, is the key to true success — and Branson has a lifetime of experience to back it up.

He is a man that seems perpetually young because he hasn’t allowed negativity to affect him. While many people have tried to poke fun at him or scoff at his antics, he hasn’t allowed them to change him. And that is a true testament to his strength of character.

The Virgin Way is a book that every entrepreneur should read. If you want to leave the world better than you found it, Branson’s insights will inspire or rekindle the spark deep inside.

Woman of the Week: Ann Kaplan

Think big — that’s Ann Kaplan’s biggest piece of advice for those wanting to succeed in business.

“I wish I had thought bigger,” she said. “Once I looked back and saw how big we had become, I thought ‘why didn’t I envision that when I was thinking of building the business?'”

Kaplan is president and CEO of iFinance Canada inc., a money-lending company that offers loans for elective surgeries, veterinary services, dental, and home improvement financing — items that would otherwise be difficult to get a loan from the bank. She built the corporation from nothing, relishing in the chance to pitch her ideas and grow.

Kaplan originally went to school for interior design, but once she opened up her own store, dealt with her own clients, and got a taste for the back room dealings of business, she was hooked. She now has an MBA in finance, a Masters of Science in Business, a Corporate Governance designation (ICD.d) and is completing her PhD thesis, which involves creating an algorithm that would determine whether a consumer would default on a loan.

All of her hard work has resulted in an influx of awards, the most recent being the PROFIT Award for Excellence in Entrepreneurship as part of the 23rd annual RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards. She said she cried when she found out she had won. “I was taken aback. I knew I was a finalist, but there were very qualified candidates.”

Kaplan was also recognized in 2000, a few years after the creation of Medicard Finance Inc., her first enterprise which is now under the iFinance umbrella, as Canadian Women Entrepreneur of the Year, Start-Up. In 2001, she won the Peak Award of Excellence in Finance. Kaplan has been on the Canada’s Profit Top 100 Companies nine times and has held a place on the Canadian W100 list eight times. She was inducted in the WXN Hall of Fame in 2014 after being named as one of Canada’s top three Female Business Leaders and as Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women. If that isn’t enough, she has also written four books — and these are only some of her notable achievements.

Despite her success, Kaplan remains humble and modest, speaking with a dry sense of humour — “verbal volleyball” she calls it, a skill that makes her popular with bankers and businessmen. Her time is split between work and her large family of eight kids, which means the word ‘relax’ isn’t in her vocabulary. Kaplan gets her hair done three to four times a week, and schedules in time for manicures and pedicures, but even then she has her laptop on hand. “No time is wasted,” she says.

What’s unique about Kaplan is that after nearly 20 years building iFinance, she still sees the opportunity for growth and education. But, what else made her start-up a success? Kaplan spoke with Women’s Post over the phone to go through a few tips on pitching to investors or lenders. According to Kaplan, the first, and most important aspect of a pitch, is to have an idea. This idea must help solve a problem. “That’s what a good business model is. Whether that is an App or providing instant financing that’s unsecured.”

Kaplan explains that the internet is inundated with everything. An idea must stand out and it must be able to provide a service that solves a specific problem. This means that people will actually be motivated to use the product or service you are pitching.

The next step is preparedness — be prepared to demonstrate your market, competition, and uniqueness. Understanding how your business is going to grow and what investors are going to get in return is crucial to landing a pitch. “There are great things like crowd-funding, but even in that you need to be prepared and be able to display the vision.”

In addition to knowing the worth of your business endeavour and of the company you are pitching to, it’s also important to also understand your own worth. Don’t undersell.

Finally, it’s all about communication and confidence. If you are able to explain in a concise manner how investing in your idea will be mutually beneficial, how the idea will be a success, and how you plan on making it into a larger, bigger entity, there is no reason why the pitch shouldn’t be considered.

For Kaplan, the independence that comes from creating a business from scratch is empowering. “The first time someone besides your mother buys something — it’s exciting!” That’s why it’s so important to continue to grow and think of new ideas, expand, and adapt to the new technology available. Kaplan is in the middle of a new and exciting enterprise called Brix Exchange, a Canadian crowd-funding portal for real estate and technology start-ups. It will be the first regulated portal of its kind in Canada.

The biggest piece of advice Kaplan can give, besides thinking big, is to follow your dreams. You can have everything if you are organized.

“Young women … they come to talk about handling their boyfriend who are concerned they are not spending enough time with them. It sounds like I’m generalizing, but it’s very common,” she said. “Family will come, but you should set yourself for your future.”

“Being able to walk away and do what makes you happy is empowering.”

Ann Kaplan is currently reading “So Anyway” by John Cleese.

 

GlobeTrotter Woman: Luggage and handbags for the professional woman

The 21st century businesswoman is a traveller. Deals are now brokered on trains, planes and automobiles, and important meetings can happen at a moments notice. It’s important to have the necessary equipment to deal with these types of business scenarios, and GlobeTrotter Woman has you covered.

GlobeTrotter Woman offers sleek and elegant luggage equipment and accessories that will meet the needs of the professional women on-the-go. The items they sell are unique and stylish—each has been hand-selected to ensure the highest quality. The products are presented in a beautifully clean website that is easy to navigate, so you can shop from the comfort of your home.

The company’s goal is the following: “We want to bring you a touch of elegance and practicality as you conquer the world.” And their products really do meet that criteria.

Their Ultra-Light Luxurious Luggage Set is made of jute tweed and consists of five elements. It has two wheeled Pullmans, one duffel bag, one carry-on and one garment bag. The entire set is priced at a reasonable $239.99. Other products of note include a security-friendly laptop bag (which is TSA compliant) and a genuine leather carry-on rolling laptop briefcase. Both are professional looking and practical—two aspects that are common in all of GlobeTrotter’s products.

Travel accessories include high resolution binoculars, phone charging wallets, and suitcase GPS trackers. The company also offers sport gear and electronics. All of these items are great to have in your bag in case of emergency meetings or trips.

The company also launched their G Lux Line this week, which includes a number of elegant and classy high-end leather bags. These gorgeous bags are made to order, by hand, in Italy.

GlobeTrotter is a startup that understands the international aspect of business and knows that professional women deserve to use the best tools out there .

PRACTICAL. RESISTANT. ELEGANT.
​JUST LIKE YOU.

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Woman of The Week: Elena Mayer

Last week, I had the chance to attend the Hard Hats and High Heels, an event hosted by Women Who Rock at the Art Gallery of Ontario. As an informal networking organization, the Canadian fashion industry and women in the mining industry came together for the night, looking to accomplish their goal of empowering women who work in the industry. I sat down with the founder of the organization, Elena Mayer, before the show for some insider information on the unique initiative.

WWRFashion2015-03

 

Can you tell me about Women Who Rock? 

Women Who Rock is a organization, which started last year, with the mission to attract and attain more women in the mining industry. I founded it while I was still a student at the Schulich School of Business. The reason why I did it is because I felt there was a bit of a disconnect between junior women and senior women in the industry. For one thing, women didn’t know about the opportunities they have in mining. Secondly, women already in the mining industry had trouble connecting with their colleagues. It all started by a few socials.  When more and more women began to join these socials, I decided to start this organization to allow women to have a more formal umbrella. It quickly turned from a social setting to an empowering organization.

What inspired you to start this organization? 

A number of mentors and trailblazers in the mining industry inspired me. It is quite male dominated. Only 11% of those in the industry are women. These women, in addition, are very disconnected from one another. I experienced this myself when I was 1 of 3 female students in the global mining management program. But my professors and other women in the industry were so inspiring and so passionate about it that I thought why not do something like that?

WWRFashion2015-15

Why did you decide to go into the mining industry? 

I actually have a legal background. I’m a lawyer. Because I speak Spanish, I was put on all Spanish speaking files and 90% of them were mining cases. But what really got me interested was the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) Convention 2011 when I had to go and promote my firm. That’s when I knew that this is what I wanted to do.

How do you suppose women can break the barrier of being the minority in such a male dominated industry? 

I think, and this is both from research and statistics, that a lot of times, women lack confidence and suppress their opinions, especially when surrounded by males. There are some progressive companies that create programs. They have forums for women to share their idea and allow them to realize that their ideas are worth something. Women, have the tendency, even though their idea is valuable, to not share their ideas until they are a 100% sure. Women Who Rock hosts seminars with the basis of giving women confidence to speak up. What we strive to do is to create out of the box events, such as Hard Hats and High Heels, that will give women an opportunity to speak up and create a sense of self confidence. Learning all of this, for women especially, starts with the way we look and the way we dress.

WWRFashion2015-17

How important do you think it is to dress well? 

It’s not necessarily about fashion sense, it’s about being comfortable expressing yourself. For a very long time, women had to choose between being feminine and beautiful or being smart and intelligent. If you’re smart, we are taught to tone down our sense of fashion. So what we’re trying to do now is to show that the new generation of business women do not have to choose between one or the other. You can still be fashionable and feminine and love colours and be smart and intelligent to pursue a career just like men do.

 

What advice do you have for women in other industries? 

I think we all have a common ground as women. We like to socialize, we like to talk, and we like fun events. Creating a sense of comradeship no matter what level and what type of a job you’re doing is very important as shown by our models today. Our models today are those who work in the mining industry. They’re ideologists, they’re engineers, they’re assistants. What they have in common is fashion. They want to dress the way they want but they also need to learn the right way to do so. We want to help the fashionistas succeed in a corporate world.

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What are you most looking forward to tonight? 

I’m looking forward to the panel discussion. Tonight is all about trial and error. We’re bringing two distinct industries together. Having two panelists from the mining industry and two panelists from the fashion industry allows us to be united by the same goal – promoting gender diversity. We want to give women the confidence to express their brain and their beauty. I’m hoping that we can show, through this event, that we’re not all that different.