Selkirk College will honour its own with an event featuring the “Women of Selkirk” in celebration of International Women’s Day.
March 8 marks the day that pays tribute to all that women have achieved and also raises social awareness of the struggles still faced worldwide. Selkirk College brings the international day home with an event held at noon in The Pit on the Castlegar Campus.
Geology Instructor Deidre Hopkins is one of 20 Selkirk College employees who will be featured in the “Women of Selkirk” event that is taking place on the Castlegar Campus on March 8 as part of International Women’s Day festivities across the globe.
Organizer Susanna Harrison is a member of Selkirk’s Status of Women Committee which has organized the event that will portray 20 women working at the local college. Partly inspired by Humans of New York, this exhibit will feature a board dedicated to each woman with her photo and the story of the gender struggles she had to overcome on her path to where she is today.
“The women portrayed come from different departments and have different roles at the college,” says Harrison. “Their stories are all as unique as the women featured. We have women who are juggling career and family, or have more than one career, or have encountered difficulties due to their country of origin or the type of job they do. Some work in typically male-dominated environments and disciplines. The stories of these women are empowering and will certainly inspire our young women studying now at Selkirk, and the whole community.”
Women Making Great Strides
Holly Smee is one woman being featured in the exhibit. A psychology instructor, she began her education in that field at Selkirk more than 10 years ago setting the foundation for her future as a teacher and registered clinical counselor. She sees the great strides women have made over the past century, but believes there is still a long way to go to achieve true equality.
“Perhaps the biggest impact I have felt is what it means to be female,” she says. “I am a counsellor, teacher, clinician, wife, daughter, sister, stepmother, fairy dogmother, secretary for our home, cleaner, and a cook, yet I get paid for only a few of those positions. Women are multi-tasking powerhouses. This pressure to be everything and do everything well means that it can be far harder to get ahead in today's society.”
Psychology Instructor Holly Smee began her education with Selkirk College 10 years ago.
Like Smee, who chose a career in social services instead of the trades or other male-dominated fields, Selkirk administrative assistant and featured woman Caroline Soukoroff was guided into a traditional, female-dominated profession.
“As a young woman I had interest in pursuing a career in the trades; however, that was not a path that was encouraged by my high school counsellors,” says Soukoroff. “I have great admiration for the young women of today who pursue the trades and other non-traditional careers. Bravo! I believe the barriers are slowly falling away as more women step into these roles.”
Instructor Deirdre Hopkins is another woman of Selkirk. She attributes her success as a geologist to the “many strong and determined women that forged the path” ahead of her.
Her first job as a geologist was for a small diamond exploration company that was especially helpful to women and though she felt supported, there were times when she felt alone or isolated in a male-dominated profession.
“There were times when I felt I needed to be twice as professional or work twice as hard to prove I had right to be there,” she says.
“Here at Selkirk College, I have Lesley Anderton to thank for paving the way as a female geology instructor. Lesley taught nearly 5,000 students in over 35 years at Selkirk and was known for her enthusiasm in the classroom. I can only hope to continue that legacy in the years to come.”
Women of Selkirk is open to the public and refreshments will be served. Selkirk Rural Pre-Medicine Program student Cara Gallo will be playing the violin.
“Come and celebrate some of our wonderful women,” says Harrison.