Power of Connection #IWD2020

by Charlie Kraig @cvkraig

My pre-event warm up was a 545 km drive from Lloydminster to Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Not only was the sun shining, and I was traveling without my tiny humans, I was able to listen to the CBC Massey Lectures 2019 with Sally Armstrong entitled Power Shift: The Longest Revolution. It was wonderful! My feminist heart was singing.

Armstrong unpacked many topics including the costs of gender inequality, the domination of women’s bodies by men, women in history who have pushed back against societal norms and religious claims, the power of social media, the beginning of the patriarchy, and the importance of intersectionality within feminism, ensuring ALL voices are considered, particularly those in marginalized groups who are often overlooked and silenced without consequence.

Listening to this lecture series reinforced the importance of our evening event; just because I am not personally or overtly experiencing a lack of equality in my white, hetero, cis-gendered, young(ish), able bodied, middle class, Canadian life, doesn’t excuse me from participation. In fact, it requires me acknowledge my privilege and make space for, and amplify the voices of WOC, Indigenous women, disabled women, LGBTQ+ women, poor women, and other marginalized populations of women.

My podcast playlist was then followed by The History Chicks who profile women throughout history. At this point, due in part to the vast kilometers I find myself driving for work, the two hosts are like old road tripping friends whose company and humour I enjoy. This particular episode featured Mary Church Terrell, a civil rights activist and suffragist who worked to improve the lives of African Americans. Again, this was a glimpse into how far we have come as a society and yet, just how far we need to still go.

Our theme for @WomenEdAlberta #LeadMeet 2020 in honour of International Women’s Day 2020 was Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Successes and Struggles.

I was honoured to be included on the panel, alongside Joanne Pitman (@JoannePitman5, Superintendent CBE), Sunita Chafekar (@ChafekarSunita, therapeutic setting teacher CBE), and Krystal Abrahamowicz (@kabrahamowicz, acting executive director CRC). Our host, Lisa Hannay (@lhannay1, AP Centennial High School CRC, my fellow networl leader for @WomenEdAlberta), crafted a series of questions that we could choose from to answer and then after a short break (during which we consumed the most delicious petit-fours made by the students in the commercial kitchen class at Centennial High School) we sat in table groups to talk about two additional questions.

We had the most delicious treats with our tea and coffee. Yes, I sampled them all!

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During our panel time, Sunita shared about her journey as a teacher and the advice she wishes she could have given herself as a beginning teacher (although unsure if her early-teaching self would listen). Krystal explored the elusive work-life balance and the emotional workload that she feels obligated to carry despite having a husband who has done much of the “mothering” in their home. I talked about being vulnerable (which I equated to being real and authentic) and the power that can have in communicating your vision with those that you lead. I also confessed my condition where emotions leak out of my eyeballs and how that is something that I have worked on becoming unapologetic for. Joanne talked about her experiences with gender pay gap, glass ceilings, and the interesting experiences she has had with hierarchical structures and how it can impede the work that we are all trying to do. In her words, “we are all doing the same work” it just looks different at each level of the system.

Her wisdom included a point of reflection — if you love the work that you are doing and the place that you are at in your career, then you are where you are meant to be…BUT if you see yourself somewhere else or are unhappy, then it’s on you to drive forward until you get to where you want to be.

For her, it is not about the position; rather, it is about the kind of work that she is passionate about doing. The wonderful thing about the panel was that our leadership roles looked very different from the job titles, but there were many layers and connections between our experiences.

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At my table group conversation we explored how despite holding “leadership” positions, some of us still don’t consider themselves leaders. We talked about the importance of inviting others, in whom we see leadership qualities, into leadership opportunities and how several of us at the table never considered school leadership until someone invited us in. Interestingly we shared that each of us had a male colleague with early career goals of becoming principals and because of that never waited for the invitation to join, they were already there saying “pick me”.
Our guests were invited to select a magnet to take home for themselves and another to gift to someone who wasn’t in attendance.

They were encouraged to share with them a little about their experiences from the evening when giving the magnet in hopes of spreading the word about our wonderful #WomenEd community.

Our time together was relatively short but I woke up this morning still smiling and revelling in the experience of last night. When we come together as women, as leaders, as people determined to make our world a better place for everyone, there is power in that. I am so blessed to be part of this group.

 

 

 

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