When women gather.. #IWD2020

By Lisa Hannay  @lhannay1

Friday, March 6 marked @WomenEdAlberta’s second #LeadMeet in honor of International Women’s Day 2020. Planning began a few months back and much to my delight and surprise @cvkraig traveled all the way from Lloydminster, Alberta, a wee 6 hour drive from Calgary. Here lies the obstacle of “in real life” events in Alberta, never mind Canada. Our country is beautiful and magnificent but massive in terms of geography.

alberta highway map

I wrangled, begged, cajoled 2 of the panelists, while Charlie “volunteered” and found a 4th. Joanne Pitman – superintendent in the CBE, Sunita Chafekar – teacher at Centennial both fell victim to my charms and agreed to speak. Krystal Abrahamowicz – executive director of the Calgary Regional Consortium was recruited by Charlie and, well, there really is no stopping the indomitable Charlie from speaking her truth so we had our panel.

We had 6 questions:
1. The Glass Ceiling vs the Glass Elevator – glass ceiling can refer to the systematic or structural barriers women face in rising to leadership. glass elevator can refer to the (usually) white male privilege that allows for men to be fast-tracked to leadership.​
Both are barriers and my question is: have you faced either barrier and what was your work around?​

2. The elusive work-life balance – in sessions or conversations on the Twitter where women are the predominant audience the question about work-life balance or how to be a good mom and a good leader is raised.​
Is this a gendered question? Is this a glass ceiling barrier? What are your thoughts on this issue?​

3. Brene Brown says that “vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy and creativity”. What is the role of vulnerability in leadership? What do we have to gain when we are vulnerable? Are there risks for women who dare to be vulnerable?​

4. Women sometimes are reluctant to share their knowledge and/or expertise in their field or work. We have become known as the feeling beings as opposed to the knowing beings.​
Is this about confidence? Is it left over from a time when our roles were more restricted?

5. Of the #WomenEd 8Cs (clarity, community, challenge, communication, collaboration, change, connection, confidence) are there a couple that resonate more with you than perhaps some of the others? What is the evidence that these couple of values (or all the values) live within your leadership?​​

6. The WomenEd mission is to empower women to take the next step in their leadership. For women who explicitly express interest, this task is simple. How do we ignite the leadership spark in women? How do we get women to see their potential for leadership and what can we do to grow this potential?

The discussion was rich, with each woman speaking their own truth and yet there were indeed commonalities. All had wrestled with that damn balance. All had to be deliberate in looking for mentors, coaches, to see themselves in others. There was struggle, but there was determination and I got the message loud and clear from each – that they knew their path was their own and they knew their own strength.

We saved the last 2 questions for after the treat break! The treats! I had many times throughout the evening said if there were treats left after the evening was over that I would be taking them home and tweeting pictures of myself eating them for breakfast. As it turns out my will power is stronger than that but I am not going to lie – I have been thinking of the treats all weekend. They are safe in a cooler at work and we will finish them off in the office tomorrow! Swing by if you like!
Seen ad many times

I have been at the bottom of my emotional barrel lately and dug deep for this event. It has been like an elixir though. I did have a PJ day yesterday and am currently mostly dressed (sans bra – glorious) but feel restored.

This is the power of women gathering. The feeling in our theater was palpable. Connecting again with women I hadn’t seen in some time, meeting new ones and watching as women lifted each other was heart warming.

And of course there was hugging. I am slowly coming around to hugging! Also, of course, there were many hands to help clean up. I hardly needed to use any emotional bribery!
I already have some ideas for next year and hope to increase our numbers – although there is something to be said for a small, intimate crowd.

Thank you to all the women who came. It did mean everything to me.

Thanks for reading!

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