Woman in auto shopWhen I was 19, I was an apprentice mechanic. I spent my days rotating tires, changing engine oil, and doing tune-ups. I was fascinated by cars and it paid a lot more than my previous factory jobs.

At the time, I was one of two female mechanics in the entire province of Ontario—so unusual that astonished customers would gape at me. Some didn’t want me touching their car; others lurked nearby while I worked, certain I didn’t know what I was doing. One businessman in a nice suit was so alarmed when I lifted the spare tire out of his trunk he tried to grab it away from me, getting his hands filthy in the process. Despite this, I loved my job.

But after three years, a new manager arrived and promptly fired me. He didn’t attempt to hide his sexism, nor his glee in exerting his power over me. I pretended I didn’t care. I was strong enough to heft tires, but not strong enough to stand up to discrimination.

Strength comes in all forms. In Western society, we tend to favour traditional masculine forms such as physical strength or organizational ’command and control’ hierarchies. However, traditional female strengths such as emotional intelligence and collaboration are quickly gaining respect. Women have always been strong, it just hasn’t always been recognized.

In the Fall 2013 issue of SHE magazine, read about one woman who found the strength to escape an abusive relationship and about one billion women who are coming together to end the violence, for good. Learn how to help adolescent girls to become stronger and more resilient. You’ll also find tools to help you recognize your own strengths and leverage them in unexpected ways.

Thanks to you, the Canadian Women’s Foundation is helping women and girls to recognize their inherent strengths, and to gain the confidence and courage to live without limits. Now that’s worth celebrating!

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