Mayor Masters reflects on International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day.

This year’s theme is #BreaktheBias, spotlighting the individual and collective biases against women that fuel gender inequality.

Mayor Sandra Masters is just one of four female Mayors that govern a city with a population of 200,000 or more in Canada, and she is also the second female Mayor for the City of Regina.

“When it’s only four in cities of our size or greater, it’s noticeable,” she said, “I think that having women at the table, we ask different questions, we approach problems differently, we approach engagement differently and having that balance is really important.”

Masters said that she feels women still face many challenges.

“There is a natural biased, and I think it holds true for all humans in that we tend to gravitate towards the ‘like’ as opposed to the ‘other,’” she said. “Ensuring that you are creating pathways for women to be in positions of leadership understanding that they’ll have a different perspective and having patients for that, requires people to change and things don’t change unless thing’s change.

Masters said that another problem women face is humans or groups wanting to stick to the ‘status quo’ or ‘the way things have always been done.’ She also said the challenge is that women sometimes underestimate themselves.

“Women have a tendency to discount themself; they’ll self select themselves out of leadership roles,” she noted, “They don’t feel they have all the experience necessary and end up in positions where they are doing and serving as opposed to leading. It’s really about women taking that initiative to put themselves into those leadership positions so they can affect policy and decisions.”

Masters said since being named Mayor; she feels she has been very welcomed with a couple of unfavourable experiences.

“I’ve experienced a little bit of awkwardness every now and again, people thinking they need to bring me up to speed on how to make a decision when I’m really good with that already,” she said. “I think even a new person would get this, where they are trying to get to know you a little bit, and they are trying to get a handle on your style.”

She said that though she has faced some problems, she acknowledged how much things have changed.

“When I was 22-years-old, and I was a single mom of a two-year-old, I was sitting down with some women in their late 40’s/early 50’s. The fact that I was able to keep my daughter and not give her up for adoption when I was sitting with eight women, where three of them had given children up for adoption because there wasn’t acceptance for single parenthood.”

“One of the women looked at me and said, ‘I hope you know how lucky you are. All of the battles that we have put our head and our hearts into have created that space for you to be able to be a single mom going to university,” she continued,

“It always kind of stuck with me, because when I look at my daughter who has a Ph.D. in microbiology and moved forwards in life as do her brothers, it couldn’t even occur to them that I couldn’t be Mayor or that their sister couldn’t be a president of an organization.”

Masters says she thinks back to the 80s and early 90s when it was customary for women to deal with discrimination, harassment, and a lack of opportunities.

“I think any woman of my age who has gone up through organizations have probably seen some nonsense in their life, and I just think for a 20-year-old and teenage young woman that is coming up, what I’m really hoping for is that for a lot of that nonsense is just no longer the way it is, very hopeful for that.”

She added that to young women out there, their voice matters and getting involved.

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