Woman of the Week: Marie Bountrogianni

Marie Bountrogianni is the Dean of G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education at Ryerson University as well as a former Ontario parliamentarian. She has a wide variety of passions and a true desire to make a difference in the world, which makes her the ideal candidate for both government and academia.

Dr. Bountrogianni was a Liberal MP from 1999 to 2007, representing the riding of Hamilton-Mountain. During that time, she served as minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Democratic Renewal, Children and Youth Services, and Citizenship and Immigration. Prior to entering the public life, Bountrogianni was the chief psychologist for the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board. She has a doctorate in Applied Psychology from the University of Toronto and was recognized as one of the top 10 most influential alumni at the University of Waterloo. Last year, she was honoured with the Gabby Award in New York City for her contributions on behalf of refugees, minorities, and people with disabilities.

Bountrogianni reached out to Women’s Post following the Golden Globe’s and Oprah Winfrey’s inspiring speech to discuss women in politics. As an educator, she hopes to inspire young women to be more active in world affairs, and discusses why academics and leadership go hand in hand. 

Question: Do you think Oprah’s speech and presidential campaign rumour will spark an interest in politics in young women? Do you think Oprah should run?

Answer: I am hoping young women – indeed, women of all ages – will consider running. It is very important for a democracy to be truly representative of its citizenry. If Oprah’s speech inspires women to run, then she should make more speeches. As for whether or not Oprah should run, that is really up to her and the American people. The fact that, like Trump, she is a billionaire TV celebrity (similarities stop here) may actually be an obstacle for her. Will the people accept another wealthy celebrity or will they want someone more experienced in governance?

Why do you think more women don’t run for office here in Canada? What are the factors?

As a former parliamentarian I can say it is challenging for women – particularly those with young children – to run for politics, for obvious reasons. My advice to young women is this: do not think of it as a life long career. Think of it as a term of service (or two or three terms), much like a military service to your country. Do it when you can “give everything you’ve got”, then leave. You will not only have made a significant contribution to your community but the benefits of your political experience will stay with you for the rest of your life. You learn how the system works. How it REALLY works. You will be able to assist any organization you work in or volunteer at.

You have a background in psychology and education, what made you run for office?

I ran for office because at the time I was the Chief Psychologist with a large school board and was frustrated by the effects of cut-backs on children’s lives. I was also on a hospital board and was similarly upset at how the cutbacks were affecting patients. I did not hold a party two membership and was never involved in politics before I ran. I had to ask, “How do I run?” I highly recommend the experience.

Did you experience any challenges as a woman?

The challenges I experienced are faced by working mothers every day. The guilt of long hours away from home, combined with balancing work and family life, etc. I did notice that younger male politicians experienced similar challenges related to their familial responsibilities, as it was more practise common for both partners to be in the workforce.

What needs to change?

Society has to once again respect the role of the politician. It is a challenging role when done properly. Politicians need to continue to remember why they entered politics and go back to basics. It was not (or should not be) for the partisan fighting, career and games – it was to represent their constituents. Social media often makes this difficult as everyone is under “a not so always fair“ microscope. We will all be better off if we bring civility back to politics. This takes leadership, however; when a leader takes part in rogue, self-serving and pedantic tweeting, “he/she poisons the well”.

How do we compare here in Canada to the U.S.?

Canada and the U.S have very different histories and political systems. We were born out of compromise and negotiations — the U.S out of revolution. There are pros and cons in each country. I am biased, of course, but I have to say that I am proud of our “just society“. We are a serious country.

As Dean of The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education, you must witness the interests and drive of many students — do you think more women will run for politics in the future?

I hope more women will run. Ironically, what is happening south of the border has attracted more interest in politics and more chatter everywhere. I do believe, like Oprah, that things are shifting – the strong (finally) response to allegations of sexual aggression is a promising step in the right direction. This may lead to women feeling more empowered to enter fields that are predominantly held by men.

Why return to education after politics?

I don’t think I ever left education entirely when I was in politics and did not entirely leave politics when I went back to education. Politics comes from the Greek word that means “citizen”. We are responsible for each other and we have an obligation to one another. Education is a tool. Political knowledge is another tool. Both are needed to affect change. I have been very lucky to have both in my toolkit.

What advice do you have to women interested in politics?

Do it. Get support from family and friends. Be prepared to exhaust yourself. But I promise you this: it will be an experience like no other. You will potentially impact the lives of thousands of your constituents and if get into cabinet, millions of citizens. It will shock you. Next to being a mother, it is the best decision I have ever made. It was truly an honour.

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Never have the Ontario PCs needed a woman leader like they do today!

The need for change within the Ontario PC party is hitting them hard today as news that allegations of sexual misconduct have pushed Patrick Brown to step down as leader.

Many of the party faithful are wishing they had elected Christine Elliott, who challenged Patrick Brown in the 2015 leadership race. There is no doubt the party will have a tough time in the coming election. If they elect a man, the cloud of scandal won’t dissipate quickly and voters will go to the polls questioning his propriety no matter how clean his reputation.  So, they must find a strong woman willing to lead them out of the scandal, someone willing to challenge Premier Kathleen Wynne.

It’s not a job many woman would want. Chances of actually winning the election are much lower today than they were yesterday.  But, this morning Christine Elliott is probably giving it a lot of thought. Leadership candidates who don’t win are usually pushed out of the party by leaders who don’t like to be challenged. Patrick Brown didn’t like to be challenged, and Christine Elliott was pushed out of the party.

She has to know the chances of winning the election with just five months to go with the Patrick Brown scandal hanging over them are low.

Whomever steps up will have to work hard to build their recognition and public trust.

If Christine Elliott doesn’t step up, the party will have to think outside their conservative scope to find a woman with a voice big enough and strong enough to convince female voters that she is bringing big change to the party.

As I muse over who might be a strong candidate, some are suggesting Caroline Mulroney as a possible leadership candidate. She has a pretty terrific resume – a working mother of four, she has a degree from Harvard and a law degree from New York University. And she has experience in politics. She, like Justin Trudeau, will be accused of riding on her fathers coat tails when in fact she has a very strong resume and could make a very good leader. The only issue is that she may not have enough recognition to build the public trust the PC party needs to get out of mess they are in and actually win the election.  But recognition can be earned quickly if she comes out with strong ideas that earn her support in the urban markets  – like supporting dedicated transit funding.

Today I have no doubt that Ontario PC decision makers are frantically searching for the right leader – they’ll have to find someone with enough public recognition and trust to challenge Premier Wynne.

An out of the box idea might be to look further than the tip of their shoes to someone like Jenniefer Keesmaat. She has a solid reputation in urban centres. She has experience being under fire, and she understands the importance of building strong communities. And she is a woman who would give Premier Wynne some strong competition with her core supporters.  That kind of out of the box thinking is what the PC party needs to show voters they are committed to changing the old boys club image that is haunting them today.

There is no doubt the party must find a woman leader. Whomever steps up to the challenge will be doing the Ontario PC party a huge service – I just hope the old boys recognize it.

Amazon prohibits salary inquiries for gender parity

Amazon is changing their hiring policies to ban managers from asking applicants about their previous salaries.

This is part of a US policy that is meant to reduce the gender pay gap. California, New York, New Orleans, New Jersey, Dalaware, and Pittsburg are a few of the states that have already implemented this policy. According to the Labour Code, the bill would “prohibit an employer from relying on the salary history information of an applicant for employment as a factor in determining whether to offer an applicant employment or what salary to offer an applicant. The bill also would prohibit an employer from seeking salary history information about an applicant for employment and would require an employer, upon reasonable request, to provide the pay scale for a position to an applicant for employment.”

The idea is that if potential employers don’t ask, then everyone entering the position will automatically be given the same starting salary based on experience and job title.

It’s an interesting concept, but there are many who believe the law could backfire and actually increase the gender pay gap. If previous salaries, or salary expectations, are not discussed, assumptions regarding the worth and value of the person being interviewed could guide the hiring process to offer certain people a lower salary.

For example, women could be offered less money than they earned previously, and be forced to either re-negotiate or accept the offer. The argument against this ban is that if women are able to firmly state their expectations and previous salary, the number in the original offer will be able to more accurately reflect their value.

The transparency element of this policy is admirable. Companies will have to provide a pay scale for the position to applicants, meaning those being interviewed will have an idea of what kind of salary they should expect.

While this is a state decision, national companies are now being forced to use this new hiring policy across borders.

It’s still a little early to determine whether or not a policy like this one will help reduce the gender pay gap or cause further challenges for women in the workplace. However, it’s an intriguing attempt by governments to take an active role in gender parity in business.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!

4 tips for texting in the workplace

“Hello. You’ve reached [insert name here]. I’m away from my desk at the moment. If your inquiry is urgent, please call or text my cell at…”

This is a voice message I heard a few months ago, and I was utterly baffled. Do I text this person who I have never met before, or do I take my chance she will return my message or emails? Do people text strangers hoping for a business meeting? Is this a trend?

It’s happening more and more often — professionals using digital platforms for daily communication rather than in-person or over-the-phone conversations. While email has become a standard and expected form of digital communication, the most recent form of interaction between clients and employers is through text messaging. This is an odd trend, as studies have shown the use of Smartphones within the workplace decreases productivity. According to a survey taken by OfficeTeam, employees spend 56 minutes per day using their cell phone at work for non-work reasons. On a weekly basis, this adds up to almost an entire work-day lost.

At the same time, it is the age of technology. People are using text and social media more often to communicate with clients or employers, because the effect is instantaneous. No need to wait until that person is out of a meeting or in the office — a text can be answered at any time.

Is is possible to professionally text a colleague or client in the workplace without blurring the professional lines? The answer is yes, but there are some things you should know. Here are four tips for communicating with your boss, client, or coworker via text message:

Don’t text first: Texting should be used as a last resort to get a hold of someone professionally, unless that person has clearly indicated that text messaging is their primary form of communication. This rule can be complicated if you are presented with a voice message similar to the one above. If someone says in an automated message that it is okay to text them, should you? No. Texting is still considered a very personal form of messaging; therefore, first contact should always be made either in person, on the phone, or by email if necessary. If you are discussing a time sensitive issue and the person you are trying to reach is in media relations or acts as a liaison to another, it may be appropriate. In this case, make sure your text clearly indicates who you are and why you texted.

Don’t abbreviate: Texting your boss or a client is different than texting a friend at two in the morning asking if they want to go to the pub. Don’t use abbreviations or shortcuts like “np” (no problem) or “sry” (sorry). Write complete sentences and always use a ton of respect. It may even be prudent to include a signature at the end with your full name. ASAP or RSVP are the exceptions to the rule, as they are terms often used in conversation.

Hopefully I don’t have to say this, but do not use emojis either.

Keep it professional: Just because you are using text, doesn’t mean your language should be anything other than professional. Keep your communication short, concise, and professional at all times. Remember that texting was not meant for serious discussion. This form of communication is great if you need to get someone’s attention and request they call you or check their emails, but that’s about it. It’s also important not to text too often. Reserve this right for emergencies, for example when you are going to be late to a pre-scheduled meeting. 

And in the case of emergencies, try not to break bad news over text. Instead, simply send a message asking the receiver to call you to discuss an urgent issue.

Always read over your message: Even in the case of an emergency, it is important to re-read your texts before pressing send. Autocorrect is not what it used to be. Too often people are the victim of the dreaded autocorrect, who transforms the simplest greetings (hello) to something sinister (hell).

Would you use text messaging to communicate with your employer or client? Let us know in the comments below!

Why consent should be included in #MeToo movement

A woman has made allegations of sexual misconduct against television actor and comedian Aziz Ansari. In her claim, she says the two went out on a date and when she indicated, using “nonverbal and verbal cues” that she wasn’t interested in having sex with him, he tried to seduce her over and over again. Eventually, he called her an uber and she went home.

Ansari has told the media that “it was true that everything did seem okay to me, so when I heard that it was not the case for her, I was surprised and concerned.”

While the allegations may not be as serious as those against Harvey Weinstein or Kevin Spacey, these kind of stories do expose an important issue of consent, or basic respect, on the dating scene. The criticism this woman is receiving online is reason enough why this story is so important. People are saying this woman should have been clearer about her sexual desires, and that it wasn’t fair to Ansari to ruin his career over something he didn’t know he did wrong. An opinion columnist in the New York Times actually said the only thing Ansari is guilty of is not being a mindreader.

Essentially, those responding to this story are saying that because this woman didn’t cry out “no” and push Ansari away, this story has no value to the #MeToo movement. I disagree.

This story is one many women, and probably a few men, are familiar with. Their date indicates a need to slow down, and are promptly ignored. You kind of like the person, so you try to express your consent in a different way. You do this by joking around, distracting your partner, suggesting alternative activities, and finally, by saying you aren’t in the mood. This can result in anger, frustration, embarrassment, and sometimes lead to dangerous situations.

I was dating a man for a few weeks I met online. He was funny, smart, and nice — pretty much exactly what I was looking for. During conversation at dinner, my date invited me back to his apartment. I said that while I liked him, I wanted to take our relationship slow. I like to really get to know a potential partner before jumping into bed with them, especially considering the dangers of the online dating scene. I was about as clear as a person could be about my romantic intensions, and my date seemed understanding. He said there were no strings attached to the invitation, and we could simply watch a movie, drink coffee, and spend more time with each other.

Isn’t that sweet?

Of course, once I arrived at the apartment, there was no coffee. He did put on a movie, but as soon as the opening titles started scrolling along the screen, he was blowing in my ear (is that a thing!!??). The next thing I knew, his hand was on the back of my head, pushing me towards his face. I broke away a few times, joking about how we were going to miss the movie. A few minutes later, his hand was on my cheek, guiding my face back to his.

I consider myself a strong and independent woman, but when I was confronted with such an uncomfortable situation, I am ashamed to say that I lied. Instead of telling my date that his behaviour was unacceptable, especially considering our conversation at dinner, I looked at my phone and said “my dad just called me. My dog is badly injured and he needs help lifting her into the car. I’ve got to run.” And out the door I went.

All that is to say it is not as easy to say “no” as people may think. When you are alone with a person in their home, you are vulnerable. Your partner has the advantage.

It’s also important to remember that consent is not the absence of the word “no”. Consent, according to the Oxford dictionary, means to give “permission for something to happen.” In the case of a sexual relationship, both parties must clearly agree to a sexual act and each person has the right to say no. Consent should never be assumed or implied.

Again, let me stress, consent is not defined by the absence of the word “no”. And that is why this conversation should be a part of the #MeToo movement. Understanding this definition is part of that patriarchal mentality women are trying to change. It is something that will take time and needs to be exposed in order for people to learn.

Could Ansari really not understand this woman’s non-verbal cues? It is absolutely possible. Should he be punished professionally and personally for his actions? I’m not too sure. His reaction is probably similar to hundreds of thousands of men out there who were in similar situations. Men who don’t understand what those non-verbal cues mean and are subject to retaliation in the media.

For those men, here is a very simple guideline: just ask. Ask your partner if it is okay to kiss them. Ask if they want to go to the bedroom. Ask if they are willing to have oral sex. Always ask. When you ask, you will get a firm answer. And continue to ask! Is this okay? Are you okay with me touching you there?

It’s really rather simple. And no, it doesn’t detract from the mood. Trust me, it’s actually quite attractive to have a man stand by your door, saying “you look absolutely beautiful, I would like to kiss you. Can I?”

Sexual assault and sexual harassment within industry and the workplace may be the foundation of the #MeToo and TIME’S UP movement, but it shouldn’t end there. Let’s add consent to the discussion.

Please use a real pregnancy test — not an Ikea ad

I can’t believe this needs to be said: Don’t rely on an Ikea advertisement to determine if you are pregnant. Use a legitimate pregnancy test from a pharmacy, or see your doctor.

Ikea released a new magazine advertisement that encouraged women to pee on a page within the publication to determine if they were pregnant. If the results are positive — those women get a discount on a crib.

The Swedish magazine reads: “Peeing on this ad may change your life.” Watch the instructions here:

IKEA – Pee Ad from Ourwork on Vimeo.

The advertisement was created by Swedish agency Åkestam Holst in collaboration with Mercene Labs, and uses the same technology found in a pregnancy test. They told media customers don’t actually have to bring in a urine-covered magazine to receive the discount (members of the Ikea Family program are all elligible), which means the advertisement is essentially a very weird and glorified pregnancy test. In this case – it is literally no different than taking a legitimate, trustworthy test provided by a doctor. So, why is it that people are freaking out about this Ikea ad?

Interactivity goes a long way in marketing. While urinating on an advertisement doesn’t seem like the most dignified form of interaction out there, it is quirky enough to entice people to try it, especially if they think a discount is waiting for them. It also has the media, Women’s Post included, intrigued enough to write about the campaign. That’s free advertising for Ikea (although the campaign is only available in Sweden, sorry Canada).

Typically, interactivity in advertisement is conducted through technology; a mobile app, a touchscreen, or a URL that allows a customer to insert a coupon name, play a game, or scan a barcode for a chance to win a discount at a store. Magazines have frequently used scent as a form of interactivity, but the use of bodily fluids is a new idea.

On a side note: is anyone else wondering how these ladies manage to do their business on a specific section of a magazine? The video shows the use of an eyedropper, but I foresee a number of accidents.

As much as I don’t like to admit it, this advertisement will most likely be successful for Ikea Sweden. Is it gross and really weird? Definitely! But, I imagine many women out there will be tempted to try it out, just to see if it works.

But please, don’t use it as an official pregnancy test! Don’t trust a company that can’t seem to make bookshelves with all the pieces. Take a real test — and then you can try this weird magazine advertisement.

Would you pee on a magazine for a discount? Let us know in the comments below!

Why are reporters still describing female athletes as ’emotional’?

Last week, fans were shocked to hear that well-respected coach John Herdman will be leaving the Canadian women’s soccer team and heading up the men’s national team.

Herdman has led the women’s soccer team to two Olympic bronze medals and two CONCACAF champions, as well as numerous other international wins. The Canadian women’s soccer team is a force of nature, and is the only Canadian olympic team to win medals two Games in a row.

But, the article I’m going to write is not about Herdman himself or his move to the men’s team. Instead, it is about an article written in the Toronto Sun by Kurt Larson that diminishes the women’s soccer team’s accomplishments and frames Herdman’s transition as a step up within the industry.

The article itself contains a number of condescending remarks, but the top zingers are these:  “Matches aren’t won via athleticism and emotion as they are in the women’s game. Results are secured through tactics and technical ability on the men’s side” and “The source invoked San Pedro Sula, Honduras, the site of Canada’s infamous 8-1 loss, as being far different from playing at BC Place in front of thousands of screaming pre-teens, donning red face paint and Christine Sinclair jerseys. Simply put: The stakes are higher on the men’s side.”

Herdman’s experience with the women’s team far outweighs the capabilities of the former men’s soccer coach over the last few years. The women’s team has gone to the olympics to win medals while the men’s soccer team…well, they haven’t competed on that stage in a while.

My household is full of soccer fans. I often come down in the morning to the sport being played on television on Saturday mornings. I’ve watched the men play and I’ve watched the women play. I can personally tell you the women are stronger players on many levels. Their athleticism, their sportsmanship, and their skill far outweigh what I’ve seen at a men’s soccer game.

I urge you to watch a game for yourself. When the women are knocked to the ground or hurt, they get back up immediately and jump into the game with a level of ferocity unseen on the men’s playing ground. The men? Well, they hang on to their ankle and shed crocodile tears until the referee calls for a free kick. Is that the “tactic and technical skills” this reporter was talking about? If so, I’m not sure that is something to celebrate.

This year, people are celebrating the strength of women — and yet reporters are still using words like “emotion” to describe female athletes. My question is why? What makes a female athlete so damn more emotional than a male athlete? They both put their heart, soul, and body on the line each time they compete. They each try their best to represent their team and country on an international stage. And yet, every year some journalist seems to fit the word “emotion” into a sentence about a female athlete, despite the only difference being reproduction organs. It’s incredibly disappointing.

The Sun even admits their own feelings for female athletes when they explain why Herdman is so respected. “He even showed a bit of fire last year when he took the Toronto Sun to task over not covering his women’s team with the same enthusiasm it covers the men.”

I guess nothing’s changed.

Featured Image taken for Canada Soccer.

No, I will not forgive greedy Tim Hortons

On Friday, Tim Hortons released a press statement to counteract the complaints regarding the slashing of benefits and paid breaks for employees at an Ontario store owned by the children of the franchise’s founders.

The statement reads: “Let us be perfectly clear. These recent actions by a few Restaurant Owners, and the unauthorized statements made to the media by a “rogue group” claiming to speak on behalf of Tim Hortons®, do not reflect the values of our brand, the views of our company or the views of the overwhelming majority of our dedicated and hardworking Restaurant Owners. While our Restaurant Owners, like all small business owners, have found this sudden transition challenging, we are committed to helping them work through these changes. However, Tim Hortons® Team Members should never be used to further an agenda or be treated as just an ‘expense.’ This is completely unacceptable.”

Essentially, the actions of a few spoiled children have resulted in a public relations nightmare and head office decided they needed to respond — without actually offering any assistance, solutions, or guarantees.

Last week, I wrote an article about how the Tim Hortons franchise was being greedy. I said a company that made roughly $3 billion (US) in revenue last year shouldn’t be so quick to devalue their employees. I also said I would not be purchasing any more product from the franchise.

Cue the comments from people defending Tim Hortons, many of whom I would bet make more than minimum wage.

A common argument expressed on social media was that I shouldn’t boycott all Tim Hortons based on the response of one or two store owners. While it is true that not all stores have decided to react to the minimum wage increase in this manner, the franchise itself is partially to blame. Most people have expressed a willingness to pay an extra 10 cents for a cup of coffee or a donut to make up the costs lost to the owners. People are actually asking Tim Hortons to raise prices so that their employees can afford their rent.

These people are the heroes Ontario needs.

Tim Hortons, on the other hand, has not raised prices. They have not promised to absorb the cost of the minimum wage increase. Instead, they chastised store owners for having to make difficult (and wrong) decisions. They claim no responsibility, merely saying they were “saddened” to hear of the actions taken by a “reckless few.”

Cry me a river.

It’s not like businesses didn’t see this coming. Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne made the announcement back in May 2017, saying the minimum wage will increase to $14 on Jan. 1, 2018. That was seven months ago. Did no one do the math? Did no one think: “maybe I should look at the books to figure out how I’m going to make this work?”

And it’s also not just Tim Hortons. Other big chains are dipping into their employees tips and laying off staff,. Sunset Grill is increasing their servers’ tip out by one per cent. This is part of a process called tip pooling, in which servers pay a portion of their day’s tips to support staff like bussers, cooks, and dishwashers. This tip out increase comes in addition to menu price increases at Sunset Grill. The Clocktower, a restaurant in Ottawa, is now removing dishwashers from the tip out, saying they make enough now that minimum wage has increased. They also increased their tip out by one per cent. Smaller businesses have cut store hours and even changed to commission-based wages rather than increase their hourly rate.

Unfortunately, this is how it will be for a while. Corporate head office will blame store owners. Store owners will blame the government. The government will call the store owners “bullies”, and then corporate head office will step in with a nicely worded press release. But, at the end of the day, who is actually left hurting? The employees caught between the madness.

It’s a few dollars per shift. If you can’t figure out the math and get creative, you don’t deserve to own a business.

So, to conclude — thank you for all the comments and remarks, but I’m going to keep boycotting greedy Tim Hortons. And if you had respect for the minimum wage workers in this province, you would do so too.

5 kickass moments for women at the Golden Globes

Who watched the Golden Globes Sunday night?

I’m not a big fan of award shows. Honestly, I only watch them to enjoy the entertainment or the fashion. I like movies and television, but often I sit down to watch my PVR shows months, or even years, after they were cool. This year, however, I watched the Golden Globes for another reason — I wanted to see the impact of the TIME’S UP Campaign.

Last week, women within the entertainment industry joined forces with activists, lawyers, and farmworkers, to form the initiative TIME’S UP, which will fight systemic sexual harassment in Hollywood and in blue-collar workplaces. They called for everyone attending the Golden Globes to wear black in solidarity.

It was also the first award show to be broadcast since the #MeToo campaign picked up force last year. This led to some highly political, and inspirational moments. Even host Seth Meyers began his monologue with the following statement: “Good evening ladies and remaining gentlemen. It’s 2018. Marijuana is finally allowed, and sexual harassment finally isn’t.”

Here are the top moments for women at the Golden Globes:

Oprah’s speech: Oprah Winfrey was honoured with the Cecil B. DeMille award for lifetime achievement, making her the first black woman to receive it. If this wasn’t enough, in typical Oprah fashion, she stood up and presented a 10-minute speech about race, women, and inspiration that resulted in numerous standing ovations.

I want tonight to express gratitude to all the women who have endured years of abuse and assault because they, like my mother, had children to feed and bills to pay and dreams to pursue. They’re the women whose names we’ll never know. They are domestic workers and farm workers. They are working in factories and they work in restaurants and they’re in academia, engineering, medicine, and science. They’re part of the world of tech and politics and business. They’re our athletes in the Olympics and they’re our soldiers in the military…For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men. But their time is up. Their time is up.

Here are all the male nominees: While presenting the award for best director, Actress Natalie Portman added in a very poignant line: “And here are the all-male nominees.” Female directors don’t often get nominated for their work, and this year was no exception (surprising considering TIME’S UP). There were three female directors who helped produce some amazing films this year — Greta Gerwig; Ladybird, Des Rees; Mudbound, and Patty Jenkins; Wonder Woman — who at least deserved a nomination. Portman’s unexpected ad-lib was the talk of the Internet.

The Handmaiden’s Tale: Elizabeth Moss won best actress for her role in The Handmaiden’s Tale, based off the novel by Canadian author Margaret Atwood. The series takes place in a dystopian future in which America women are enslaved and forced to act as child bearers following a fertility pandemic. Women are treated as lower beings, torn from their families, raped, and forced to serve higher men. Season two of The Handmaiden’s Tale is set to be released in April. “Margaret Atwood, this is for you and all of the women who came before you, and after you, who were brave enough to speak out against intolerance and injustice and to fight for equality and freedom in this world,” she said. The show, which was filmed in Toronto, also won for best television series. The director thanked everyone for working hard to make sure the show doesn’t become a reality.

A sea of black attire: TIME’S UP called for celebrities to wear black to the Golden Globes, and they responded in force! I can count the number of people not wearing black on one hand — at least from what I saw. This also included men, many of whom were wearing the TIME’S UP pin, the must-have “political accessory” of the awards show, as the New York Times called it.

The anti-celebs: There were some faces on the red carpet most people didn’t recognize. They were the activists, lawyers, and farm workers. They were the women who don’t typically get their photo taken or have their names printed in the papers. A number of celebrities chose to bring one of these women as their special guest, providing them with a platform to discuss their causes. Here were the activists present on the red carpet:

  • Marai Larasi, executive director of Imkaan, a British network of organizations working to end violence against black and minority women.
  • Tarana Burke, senior director of the nonprofit Girls for Gender Equity.
  • Saru Jayaraman, a workplace-justice advocate for restaurant workers.
  • Ai-jen Poo, director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance.
  • Monica Ramirez, who fights sexual violence against farmworkers.
  • Rosa Clemente,  Puerto Rican activist & journalist.
  • Billie Jean King, founder of the Women’s Tennis Association.
  • Calina Lawrence, a Suquamish Tribe member, singer and activist for Native American treaty and water rights.

It did feel a little strange to be honest, to have celebrities parade around with an activist on their arm, almost as if they were saying “see, I’m helping too!” At the same time, it provided these women with a platform to speak during primetime.

All in all, not too shabby for a few hours of late night television.

Featured Image provided by NBC.

What did you think of the Glden Globes? Let us know in the comments below!

Toronto has a directory of ‘Women and Color’

Have you attended a technology conference or speaking series and noticed the gender parity within the audience? How about on the panels or the keynote speaker lists?

Over the past year, I’ve attended a number of conferences within the fields of technology, marketing, and business. I was startled to see so few women represented. In the crowd, there was often one table or two of women, all clumped together and isolated from everyone else. Those women who were part of the panels, were often asked the questions about gender in the workplace, as if they were token members

And this is just women as a whole gender. I can count the number of women of colour who took the stage on one hand. While feminism may have been the word of the year in 2017, STEM fields still have a long way to go in achieving gender and race equality.

When I read about ‘Women and Color’, a directory of women and people of colour who are available to speak at such conferences, I was floored! How has this database existed for two years without people knowing about it?

The directory was created by a product designer named Mohammed Asaduallah, who was just as frustrated as many women to find the lack of diversity within the tech industry. Asaduallah and a team of volunteers help maintain the site by adding in new profiles of women in Toronto. The profiles include a photograph, job title, a short description of the person’s expertise through tag words, contact information, and a link to their Twitter account.

Asaduallah hopes to grow Women and Color and add profiles from cities across Canada and even venture into the United States.


At your next conference or speaking series, perhaps consider reaching out to one of the numerous qualified women in this directory. It’s time to stop using women as “tokens” at technology events and start seeing them as the qualified and capable experts they are.