Thursday, May 10, 2007

Wanted in Montreal: Women in Top Jobs

Montreal's municipal government just got more friendly for women! Montreal will be instituting a protocol entitled “Promoting the Equal Involvement of Women and Men in the Montreal Community” in order to get more women in the ranks of upper administration.

Pierre Belec, who acted as secretary of the Summit, says Montreal has made strides in balancing gender equality within the municipal system, but that more needs to be done to include upper management, which is still dominated by men.

“If you look at the figures, it’s not bad for the second ranks where you have all these women bearing the title of director. They make up 39 percent of the directors. But if you go to the higher level [borough general managers and corporate services like police and transit], there is a lack of women there.”

There are seven female borough mayors out of a possible 19, and three women on the 11-member executive committee. Of the 19 borough directors, two are women.

As for the 1,177 high-level appointments made by either the city council or the executive committee to represent Montreal on various boards of directors, committees, commissions and political bodies, about 30 percent were women

The article goes on to say that in departments where women have been included in upper management, morale and efficiency improved! One woman though questions how such a policy can help women in general, and particularly women who are from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

However, the protocol did not impress Evelyn Calugay, one of a handful of people who attended the Snowdon meeting.

“It’s not realistic to me,” said Calugay.“What they are emphasizing is for more women to participate in politics. Realistically, how many women, even in the younger generation, do you think can afford to run for politics?”

According to Calugay, who also heads Pinay, a Philipino women’s organization based in Côte des Neiges, the draft policy does not address the plight of marginalized women, particularly immigrants. When asked if having more women in powerful positions could have a trickle down effect to help impoverished women, Calugay said she didn’t think so.

“Women who are in the upper economic status don’t really understand the situation of women who are in the lower economic status. It’s not about gender, it’s about class.”

Despite these relevant objections, I am very pleased with the effort to get women involved in upper administration in the municipal government! I hope more cities have or do make such an effort!

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