Halifax Screening of Pioneers in Skirts

Eva Martinez, Vice-President of WIA-Canada

As part of International Women’s Day, Women in Aerospace Canada and Women in Science and Engineering Atlantic co-hosted a screening of the film Pioneers in Skirts.  We were compelled to share this movie with our community after watching it with our own teenage daughters; in large part because of the quality of the conversations that the film triggered between us and our daughters.

The film and the story that it tells established a safe platform for us moms to share our own career experiences and in turn, for our daughters to speak about their own ambition and the lens through which they see their futures.

We wanted more people to have those same powerful conversations.

The turnout at our screening – before COVID-19 paralyzed our communities – was a diverse mix of students, educators, parents, and career men and women.  Their attendance a testament acknowledging the role they play in closing the gender gap in the workplace; everyone plays a part.  This incredible movie about ambition was the perfect way to initiate reflection and discussion about the erosion of women’s career ambitions and what can be done to combat the biases that threaten a woman’s potential.

From the opening sequence, a montage of news stories about the gender-based challenges women face in the workplace, to the parting scenes as the credits roll, the movie grabs and holds everyone’s attention.  After the film, we asked the participants to reflect and discuss the scenes or moment that had the biggest impact on them; what they felt the main message of the film was; and what everyone can do to help young women as they transition from school to the workplace.

  • We saw fathers connect with the message about the role they play in empowering their daughters.
  • We heard stories of women successfully navigating the barriers.
  • We celebrated the successes that come when boys and girls, men and women work together.
  • We acknowledged the importance of strong leadership to lead organizations through these much-needed changes.
  • We realized that coming together only strengthens our voices and our confidence to call out gender biases.

The takeaways were “we are not alone,” “we’re all in this together,” and “we all have the power to drive change.”

I strongly encourage families to come together, watch the film, and talk about it afterwards – especially as you practice social distancing around COVID-19.  Parents should talk about their own experiences and the skills they’ve developed to combat gender biases in the workplace.  Students should be encouraged to let their ambition fuel their goals and to see that there is immeasurable power in tackling these biases together instead of trying to confront these alone.

Through these conversations, we see that gender parity is an achievable goal and that the more we talk about it, the stronger we become.

Eva Martinez, Vice President, Women in Aerospace Canada

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