SHE Magazine

When Have You Defied A Stereotype?

This story was originally published in the Fall 2014 issue of SHE Magazine.

Noushy Tavassoli

I am an architect and defied the stereotype that an immigrant woman can’t be successful in this male dominated world. It was hard to gain credibility and respect. I only would get jobs that used half my skills, so I worked to get accreditations that only a few people have in Canada. Today I work with the same men that openly said I wouldn’t make it. But I did—because I always believed in myself!

Rebecca Hare

People assume I am a ‘girly girl’ because I usually wear dresses or skirts to the office. In reality, I play soccer, run half-marathons, and watch way too much sports on TV. The highlight of my year is my annual March Madness trip. I wear skirts because I HATE shopping and can never find pants that fit. I always enjoy that moment when people finally get to know me and say “Oh, wow, you’re not at all who I thought you would be.” Exactly.

How to Talk to your Child about Gender

This story was originally published in the Spring 2016 issue of SHE Magazine. 

“Are you having a boy or a girl?”

I wonder how much longer we’ll ask expectant parents this question. Maybe instead we should start asking ourselves why assigning a gender at birth is so important to us.

More and more young people in Canada are starting to express their gender in unique ways that go beyond the masculine/feminine binary.  As parents, it is critical that we respond with love, curiosity, and an open mind.

Yes, You Are A Leader

Woman looking at skyDoes the idea of becoming a leader make you anxious? Are you already so over-extended that the thought of ‘leaning in’ makes you ready to fall over? Do you think becoming a leader means being aggressive—and that’s just not you? Many women seem to resist taking on leadership. Maybe the problem isn’t us, but our concept of leadership itself.

IN THE NORTHERN ALBERTA TOWN of Fort Mackay, a group of Aboriginal and Métis girls sit quietly in a school classroom. Their eyes are closed.

It is Day One of the Friendly PEERsuasian program, where these adolescent girls will learn healthy ways to cope with stress and peer pressure. One of the main goals of the girls' program, which runs in ten schools across the region, is to help the girls avoid the deadly trap of substance abuse that has claimed so many young people in their communities. If all goes well, they will also learn to become healthy role models—PEERsuaders— for younger girls.

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The Bumpy Road to Inclusion

Two young women looking at cameraAfter a long break, I’ve started working out again. Every morning I sweat along with the cheerful woman on my exercise DVD as she calls out the standard encouragements: “You’re doing great!” and “We’re almost there!”

But she also says something I find profound: “Challenge to change!” In other words, if my workout isn’t making me uncomfortable it probably won’t give me the results I want. The idea motivates me when I’ve had enough, allowing me to do 10 (or two) more jumping jacks.

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Choosing Empowerment

Woman smilingYes or no? Should you or shouldn’t you? Should you apply for that promotion? Should you have children, or more children, or no children? Go back to school? Buy that house? Get married? Run for office?

Big life choices like these aren’t easy. Since they usually require weighing our own needs against those of others, they can be especially tricky for women. Many of us have trouble even noticing our needs. Most of the time our first instinct is to put others first, even if it means acting against our own best interests.

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Shaneen’s Story: Seeing a Path to Social Justice

ShaneenIn high school, Shaneen Cotterell signed up for ReAct: Respect in Action, a violence prevention program that stoked her interest in social justice. As told to Jessica Howard.

In grade 11, my social science teacher suggested I try the ReAct after-school program, because she knew I was interested in the issues it covered. When I saw that the program talked about things like oppression, gender stereotypes, abuse, and healthy relationships, I signed up and stayed involved through Grades 11 and 12.

Not Cut Out for Traditional Leadership? How about Inclusive Leadership?

Young woman in officeDo you do backflips when you hear the word “leadership”?

Does your inner critic tell you you’re just not cut out for it? That you simply don’t have the experience needed and aren’t in any position to tell others what to do?  

But what if being a great leader isn’t about having all the answers or always being in control? What if it’s about listening and collaborating? Working through networks instead of hierarchies?

Elizabeth’s Story: Being Mentally Healthy

Elizabeth standing in theatreAfter taking a self-employment program, Elizabeth Anderson is turning her passion for public speaking and writing into a business that helps people flourish in spite of mental illness. As told to Jessica Howard.

In 1995, I was diagnosed with schizophrenia. In the years before that, I struggled with paranoia and depression, as well as taking care of myself on a daily basis. I had also left university because I couldn’t keep up with my classes. By the time I was diagnosed, I didn’t know that I would ever recover.

Telling Indigenous Women’s Stories – Why the Coverage Needs to Go Further

Dictionary definiteion of justice"This isn’t another poor Indian story, is it?”

It’s been over 10 years, but I still remember the shock I felt hearing those words from my producer. It was 2005 and I worked at a national current affairs show, and had just pitched my first story on a missing Indigenous woman. A girl I knew from back home in Saskatchewan had disappeared. Her name was Amber Redman and she was 19. Amber was on a volleyball team that I coached when I was in university. I didn’t know her well, but I remember she was a shy, sweet girl.

Equal to the Task

Dad and sonIf we want to reduce sexual assault and dating violence among teens, it’s crucial to discuss why most victims are women and girls without creating gender divisions. Teen healthy relationship programs offer young people of all genders a safe space to discuss stereotypes, gender inequality, and the roots of violence.

It probably wouldn’t come up in a math, science, or English class. But during a workshop on gender dynamics, a boy in ninth grade opened up about something that was bothering him.

“He talked about how difficult hunting is for him,” says Erin Wynn, Coordinator of the Healthy Relationships for Youth program, which runs in 10 schools in rural Nova Scotia. “He said how terrible he feels that he has to be able to skin an animal and do these things that don’t come naturally to him.”