International Women’s Day: Promoting empowerment, combating sexism
Paul F. Schubert
International Women’s Day is almost here at Humber College.
Held around the world on March 8, which is a Friday this year, the yearly event seeks to shine a negative light on sexism and discrimination, while shining a positive one on women and their accomplishments.
Still, some think that more needs to be done to promote inclusivity of women on Humber’s campuses.
Dr. Maryam Davoudpour, Professor at the School of Applied Technology, at Humber is in charge of an International Women’s Day Symposium.
Scheduled to take place on Wednesday, Davoudpour said the event will help to empower women, particularly in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, which is also collectively known as STEM.
“Unfortunately right now, a number of girls who are active in the tech fields are dropping drastically in Canada,” Davoudpour said.
“The thing in my agenda is just bringing these ideas and raising awareness for the families so that they can understand.”
Davoudpour acknowledged the support and services that already exist to help women on campus, ranging from free counselling to sexual assault and violence support to consent programs.
In fact, Davoudpour said that the college is already doing a lot.
“Actually, our colleagues at Humber are doing a great job and I’m very happy with the services which we provide,” Davoudpour said.
“The only thing that I can add is bringing the information everywhere so that people know we have these services.”
Jodie Glean, Manager of the Human Rights, Equity and Diversity division at Humber, agreed.
She also said the school has done an amazing job, “whether it be through health and well-being, whether it’s through women seeking leadership positions, and having women-identified mentors in supporting such initiatives.”
But more can be done, she said.
“There’s always room for growth and in strengthening the services that we currently offer and expanding as our local and global communities continue to expand.”
Both women agree that more should be done to combat sexism.
Davoudpour suggested that particularly in the field of STEM, reminding companies and industries that girls have the same potential and talent is key.
Similarly, Glean said that education is the way to go.
“It’s important to continuously ensure that once folks enter on to the campus of college, they have the opportunity to engage in increased learning around how to reduce and ultimately eliminate comments and behaviours that lend themselves to sexism, misogyny, and narcissism,” Glean said.
“It’s important for folks to unlearn many of the behaviours and practices that have been learned and taught from birth.”
Davoudpour agreed the school can increase its effectiveness by getting more students active in more STEM-related work.
“I want to ask all Humber students: ‘Please join us. If you are in any of the tech or STEM fields, please be more active,'” Davoudpour said.
“Stay more connected with the networks which we created at Humber or stay more connected with the clubs; stay more connected with the industries.”