LIVING

International Women's Day 2014: 10 Professionals Talk Money, Family, Sexism And Stress

03/07/2014 03:28 EST | Updated 05/30/2014 11:59 EDT


 
iwd 2014


 

March 8 marks International Women's Day (IWD), a day when women and men celebrate the triumphs and progress women have made as global citizens. From taking on leadership roles in nonprofits and corporations to raising awareness to end gender-based violence, this year's IWD theme is focused on inspiring change and encouraging advocacy for women's advancement.

Dating back to the first IWD in 1911, events on this day are meant to mark economical, political and social achievements of women. Governments, local charities and community groups take part in everything from conferences to protests. This year, on the theme of inspiring change, organizers at IWD want to see more women in senior roles, fairer recognition in sport, and advancements for women in sciences, technologies and arts. The Huffington Post Canada's Living team reached out to women working in these industries and others often dominated by men. We picked their brains to uncover what it takes to advance in these careers, manage personal lives and how (if ever) they deal with sexism.

We interviewed 10 women across the country that come from five specific fields: environmental science, filmmaking, trades, acting and technology. We spoke with women who were well-established in their industries and women who've just started their career journeys, uncovering a fascinating breadth of experience, and more often than not, similar values across the generations. Learn about their stories below.

iwd 2014

KATHLEEN TODD & SARAH BRUGGEMAN

Environmental Science

Kathleen Todd, 39-year-old regional technical leader (central Canada), freshwater services of Stantec in Guelph, Ont.

How long have you worked in this industry?

I have worked full-time in environmental consulting since 1999.

kathleen

How and why did you choose this profession?

With a passion for the outdoors, especially being on or near water, I knew that I wanted to focus my career in the environmental sciences. As a summer student, I was fortunate to find work with a small environmental consulting firm that specialized in aquatic research.

How does your career influence or affect your personal relationships (romantic or otherwise)?

My husband and I both work in the environmental field; he is in the public sector, and I am in the private sector. Because of our busy careers, we don’t spend as much time together through the week as we would like, but we try to make up for it with quality family time on the weekends.

Read Kathleen's story here.

Sarah M. Bruggeman, 24-year-old field and laboratory technician of V.A. Wood Inc. of Guelph, Ont.

How important is money to you, and why?

Money is fairly important to me in my career. Money is important to me because I have always believed men and women should be equal contributors in a relationship. I also believe it is important to be passionate about the career your in, and find that work experience is most valuable thing I can gain from my current position, at this stage in my career.

sarah

Do you think there’s an ideal time to start a family for someone in your profession?

I would say five to 10 years into my career would be an ideal time to start a family. Right now I do not want to take time off for a maternity leave, or have time to start a family because I want to be building my skills and working long hours.

What is the greatest source of stress in your life?

The biggest source of stress is probably constantly working on ways to keep my skills relevant and to gain new skills for future jobs. I am early into my career and feel I should take any opportunity to get ahead career-wise.

Read Sarah's story here.

directing

DEEPA METHA & ALEX CANANZI

FILMMAKING

Deepa Metha, 63-year-old filmmaker from Toronto.

How long have you worked in this industry?

Just over 20 years.

deepa

How does your career influence or affect your personal relationships (romantic or otherwise)?

I suppose this is specific to the way that I work, but I have always developed close relationships with the people I work with. I've been lucky to meet great people through work and the nature of making films requires you to work in very close proximity to certain people for long periods of time. The result of which has been some good, long-standing friendships and in some cases, life-long enemies.

My producer David Hamilton is also the absolute love of my life. It's tricky working with the guy I live with. Over the years we have established boundaries, or tried to. Division between work time and personal time. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.

How important is money to you, and why?

Of course money is important, and it should be, but only to the extent that it allows me to lead a comfortable and content life. If it ever became the sole driving force in my life, I'd be treading on thin ice.

Read Deepa's story here.

Alex Cananzi, 21-year-old director from Toronto.

What’s a typical day like for you?

Most of my film happens at my desk, where I write, re-write, and push paper. My most recent project took only a week to film, but a good six months of pre-production. I would love to be on set everyday, but the reality is I'm also working a part-time job to fund my projects and evenings spent getting my shit together.

alex

Is there a difference in the way men and women work and/or are regarded in this industry?

It goes both ways: if you’re a man you’re expected to haul-ass, and if you’re a girl, you’re expected to check art. That being said, there is gender overlap among all jobs on set and I've been lucky enough to work with insightful male production designers, intelligent female gaffers (head electricians) and everything in between.

But sometimes when my department keys bring on their own assistants, most of them can’t be bothered to shake my hand or answer my questions. Why? Probably because at 5'2", frizzy-haired, and wearing frumpy work sweaters, I don’t strike a particularly imposing figure. Most of them dismiss me for a production assistant but when camera starts rolling and I start directing, there is this big beautiful shift in the air when people realize I’m their boss.

Read Alex's story here.

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JOLEEN DOUCET & MELANIE GOUDREAU

PLUMBING

Joleen Doucet, 30-year-old plumber gas fitter from Edmonton.

How and why did you choose this career?

It picked me. Originally I had planned on becoming an electrician, but through trades training at Women Building Futures, I found I really enjoyed the service side of plumbing. The more I talked with my instructor, the more she encouraged me to pursue it.

Do you think there’s an ideal time to start a family for someone in your profession?

There a lot of things in my trade you wouldn't want to do if you are pregnant. I had my kids before I started working. But I won't lie — being a single mom and having kids before getting into this industry has had its challenges.

joleen

Your advice to women today who want to work in this industry?

Hold your head high, be prepared to push yourself mentally, physically and emotionally. Don't be afraid to speak up and offer your insight when working with these guys. Buy bigger pipe wrenches!

Read Joleen's story here.

Melanie Goudreau, 31-year-old plumber from Edmonton.

When and where did you graduate from?

I am currently in my first year of school for plumbing at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.

What’s a typical day like for you?

I’m in school for eight weeks at the moment to become a second year apprentice, but a typical day on site really varies as it depends on what is needed to be done and by when. Since I’m in my first year, my days are typically spent installing and attaching water supply lines, domestic water risers and mains. I’ve done some pour watches (when they pour concrete) and drilled holes. I've also spent some time doing heating and finishings.

mel

How does your career influence or affect your personal relationships (romantic or otherwise)?

I don’t believe it affects my personal relationships much. My priorities are my wife and my family and so I ensure I spend as much time with them as possible.

Read Melanie's story here.



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ANNA SILK & TIA BHATIA

ACTING

Anna Silk, 40-year-old actress known for 'Lost Girl', based in Toronto and Los Angeles

How and why did you choose this profession?

Acting is something I have been passionate about since I was quite young. It was always part of my life growing up and I really loved it. But it wasn't until some movies came to be shot in my hometown (Fredericton, N.B.) and I got basically got a job as part of the crew. This is when I caught the film bug. The whole experience taught me a lot about what is involved in the process of film and I fell in love with it. Seeing so many people working and collaborating in such creative ways was inspirational.

anna silk

Is there a difference in the way men and women work and/or are regarded in this industry?

I don't know if there is a difference in how they work but there are different pressures and messages the industry can sometimes give men and women. I think the industry is certainly tougher on women, but I would have to say the women I see have really blazed their own trails.

What is the greatest source of stress in your life?

How much time do you have? I do know that the best way for me to reduce my stress is to let go of the idea that I can get everything done all the time. Trying to embrace the idea that my 'to do list' can wait, is my biggest stress reliever and something I hear that a lot of people struggle with.

Read Anna's story here.

Tia Bhatia, 22-year-old actress who will make her acting debut in 'Dr. Cabbie' later this year.

What’s a typical day like for you?

A typical day for me consists of training to enhance my skills. Constantly moulding my skill is what I do day and night and I get very little sleep. I attend voice classes and private acting sessions. I research by watching films, writing notes and reading books on acting. Pretty boring right? I love it.

tia quote

What is the greatest source of stress in your life?

The greatest source of stress in my life is not being able to give back to my parents in the way they did for me. Seeing the fact that I’m an only child, my parents have given me absolutely everything when I came from a background of having nothing. They did the greatest thing by adopting me and blessing me with an outrageous amount of love. They took me in knowing that I had limited chances of survival. I had a huge hole in my heart and the orphanage told my parents to exchange me as if I were some defective toy. They said, 'No matter what happened, she is ours now.' How do I give back to that?

What valuable mistakes have you made in your career?

The only valuable blunder I believe I made was not pushing for my dreams from the very start. I wouldn't necessarily call anything else a mistake because it’s a learning lesson, and moulds me into a better person.

Read Tia's story here.

tech main

LESLEY PHORD-TOY & JESSICA KNOX

TECHNOLOGY

Lesley Phord-Toy, 36-year-old producer from Toronto.

How long have you worked in this industry?

I have been working in the industry for 11 years.

lesley

Is there a difference in the way men and women work and/or are regarded in this industry?

I say everyone is regarded based on what they bring to the table. For sure there are less women in games than men but that said, it brings out more curiosity from people because of how I got here and my background.

Your advice to women today who want to work in this industry?

Keep as many doors open as possible. Tech changes all the time so if you develop a family of skills and not just one specific skill it keeps a lot of opportunities open. At the same time, you want to couple that with a solid portfolio of your work and something that shows you can apply your skills.

The game industry is still a young industry compared to other tech industries so you could still have a big influence of where and how the industry is going to grow.

Read Lesley's story here.

Jessica Knox, 32-year-old CEO and co-founder of Teamwave in Toronto.

When and where did you graduate from?

I received an M.Sc. from University of California, Riverside in 2006 and a graduate diploma in digital futures at OCADU in Toronto in 2013.

jk

How important is money to you, and why?

Money is important to me because it provides me a certain kind of freedom. It has and will continue to allow me to make choices that are not guided solely by, well, money.

Do you think there’s an ideal time to start a family for someone in your profession?

I really don't. Whether you have children early, late, or not at all, the most important thing is finding a situation that works for you. The digital media world is changing so quickly that if you are strategic, have the right attributes and the commitment, you can re-enter the workforce at any time. The key is finding the right network of people who support you.

Read Jessica's story here.