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Faculty open discussion to encourage gender equality

A faculty group looking to explore gender equality in the workplace welcomed college employees to learn more about the issue on Feb. 4.

The Leadership Development for Women held the event — Gender Equity and Men’s Leadership: Community of Practice & Fireside Chat — to invite employees to have their say. The group was formed by two Algonquin faculty members, Katharine Root and now former chair Sarah Jordan, who wanted to challenge women to step forward in a leadership position.

The goal of the event, however, was to involve men’s opinions in gender equality.

“It may be a dean, or a director, or vice president, as well as a front line support staff person,” said Rebecca Volk, current chair of the Leadership Development for Women.

“It really is a wonderful mix of employees from across the college, from all different areas of the college, and all different positions who are interested in the topic of leadership.”

The event showcased the HeForShe global movement that also puts a spotlight on the issues. This movement invites all genders to stand with women to make what they describe as “gender equal world.”

The Leadership Development for Women doesn’t officially affiliate itself with the HeForShe movement but it wanted attendees to understand they have similar goals.

Employees were handed out a HeForShe card asking them to set a “personal commitment to gender equality”. It also came with a HeForShe logo pin to show the support the campaign.

Guest speakers included Jamie Bramburger, manager Community and Student Affairs Pembroke; Chris Hahn, dean Perth Campus, and Ben Bridgstock, director of Student Support Services. They talked about their perspectives of gender equality within the workplace. Moreover, they chatted about a recommended book called That’s What She Said by Joanne Lipman.

“We need to talk about this, it’s important to have an healthy and open conversation on gender quality,” said Bridgstock during the fireside chat.

Both co-chairs of The Leadership Development for Women, Sarah Gauen and Chris Doré, organized the event to bring the college employees together.

“Through the event they’re going to have some exposure to the idea on how to create a more gender inclusive workplace,” Doré said.

The event highlighted the actions employees can do at work to nurture a more positive result in their lives. They hope to have more male employees to be involved and sign the pledge to support gender equality.

“It’s not only about men learning what they can do for women but how gender equality benefits them as well. It make for a more effective workplace, typically happy relationships in their personal lives. So, there are a lot of benefits for men working towards gender equality,” Gauen said.

They also encourage students to get involved with the HeForShe movement and learn about gender equality. They host Community of Practice sessions to invite everyone across the Algonquin campus to discuss a variety of topics that are related to female leadership. During the sessions they share, learn and bond with others to connect with them about the topic that is presented.

“We’re all standing together. That we understand, in this case, gender equality is an important issue and that we still have a little ways to go around gender equality. You know, speaking as a woman, of our male friends or male colleagues or male acquaintances believe the same thing. They’ll work with us to promote women into leadership positions,” Volk said.

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