Did you know that women’s voices count for only 29% of media and journalistic coverage throughout English-speaking Canada, despite the fact that women make up more than half (50.4%) of the population of the country? This statistic, which I find deplorable, reinforces my conviction that we have to make sure women’s voices resonate and that their distinctive experiences are acknowledged in every industry.
I am far from the only one who feels this way: Shari Graydon is the cofounder of the organization Informed Opinions, and has dedicated over 25 years to studying the fact that women’s voices remain underrepresented in the Canadian media and journalistic landscape.
On the 21st of January, 2020, I was a special guest to a conference called In Search of the “Lehman Sisters” — Why Public Conversations Need Women’s Insights, beside my sister lawyers from the Association du Barreau Canadien, Division du Québec (thank you to Patricia Gamliel, President, and Danielle Ferron from IWF Montreal), to listen to Shari Graydon’s presentation on the specific barriers that prevent the parity of women’s voices in newspapers and in the media. And the organization’s not named Informed Opinions for nothing: her team has the big data to quantitatively confirm that it is still the case in 2020 that women’s voices are underrepresented, undervalued, and, worse of all, that the current situation causes women to underestimate the value of their own voices. It’s a status quo that demands change. In particular, I keep asking myself what the numbers on the media situation here in Quebec would reveal, as well as in other industries. Who controls the conversation? Who do we trust to speak on the state of our industries, politics, economy? I think the answers would reveal quite a bit about the current state of affairs in this province.
Not too long afterwards in January, for the very first time, the Association de l’industrie électrique du Québec (AIEQ), under the leadership of several #FemmesInspirantesAIEQ : Michelle Branigan, Nathalie Pilon, Christine Martin, Johanne Whitmore, and Anne-Raphaëlle Audouin, put on an evening soirée to shine a light on the women in the electricity industry on the 23rd of January. In Quebec, roughly 15% of all engineers in the province are women, and I am determined to support their perspectives and representation. It’s why I was truly proud to be there during that luminous evening on behalf of ABB.
But work doesn’t end there: in a few days, on the 5th of March, I will be attending the conference #CYBERWOMEN here in Montreal to speak about career equity as well as career transitions in the fields of cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and IT. The event, put on by Montreal Global Shapers, brings together a number of truly exceptional women — and I want to give particular thanks to Felicia Sangare, director of ForUsGirls Foundation as well as project lead for Global Shapers, for having invited me to join this important discussion.
I am really looking forward to #CYBERWOMEN: I think holding space for these frank discussions around the obstacles that women face in STEM fields is absolutely essential. Without these honest conversations, it will be impossible to make sure that the women following us know always and without hesitation the value of their own voices. There are a few spots left for #CYBERWOMEN, so don’t hesitate to reserve yours here!
PS: As I was writing this blog update, I came across Shari Graydon’s latest contribution to The Toronto Star, titled: Increasing women’s voices is key to accelerating action on climate change. It is clear to me: women must be heard!