Making a List and Leaving the Women Off

Alberta Venture put out their “Alberta’s 50 Most Influential People” list today, and while I scanned the list of those considered the “Movers, The Shakers & The Difference-Makers” I saw a lot of men.

Of 50 people, Alberta Venture choose 10 women*. 20 per cent of a list of those that Venture consider’s the most influential Albertans. Including, of course, the Premier.

(*I am using the visibly identifying as women as my gender marker. I certainly do not know enough about each individual to ascertain other equality markers around less visible discrimination).

I am not a feminist all that preoccupied with the number of women on corporate boards, but this is the kind of glaring unbalanced gender representation that reminds young women of the odds stacked against them. That even if they are doing great work and making significant changes – they will still pale in comparison to their male counterparts.

It isn’t surprising a business magazine chose to not challenge themselves to work towards gender parity but 10 out of 50 isn’t even close. It is particularly obvious as this is coming after an election where the governing party is almost at gender parity, and the folks that got them there were largely of the female persuasion.

I am sure the usual arguments of “we chose the best candidates” and “there were not that many women in the waiting” will no doubt be used, or were used, to respond to this kind of criticism. But, we all know that isn’t the reality in Alberta.

There are many, many women who are leading organizations, businesses, culture, journalism – and the many other fields that this list honoured. For the first time there is a Minister for Status of Women – if that isn’t considered moving, shaking and difference-making in Alberta, what is? Or perhaps women like Janice Makokis – an Indigenous scholar working to uphold treaty rights across Canada. Or Jan Reimer, former Mayor and the current Executive Director of the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters (ACWS) – working to end VAW in a province with the greatest gender wage gap and the highest rates of VAW in Canada. I could go on and on. There are some amazing women doing some incredible work in every sector.

When publications like Venture continually leave women off lists like this they perpetuate that women can’t make it there. That they need to work that much harder, be that much greater, to measure up. And while I do not aspire to make it on Venture’s top 50 there are thousands of women that do. Women that are working hard to achieve in their field, and still watching opportunities go to their male counterparts. A culture of misogyny is a difficult things to battle, and we need all parties to recognize their part in it. And recognize that even subtle acts like this one uphold the culture and send the same message: If you’re a woman and you want to be recognized, you must be better than the best man to be considered equal.

It upholds a culture that is unhealthy and distrusting. For all genders.

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