Fun Fact: I entered my First Pageant when I was 48 years old.
In late April 2019, I decided to apply to become a contestant in the Miss BC Pageant. This was one of the most unusual things I have ever done! Seriously! When in my life have I ever veered away from my political interests like this before? The more I read about the pageant, the more I liked it! It’s not a beauty pageant, but a leadership pageant that is actually a clever disguise for a Cops for Cancer fundraiser. So, I nervously sent in my application and waited. One interview later, I had been accepted as a contestant in the Mrs. BC category. After that, I began balancing my RVP responsibilities with my pageant training, which was interesting to say the least. (For example: during a week-long union event, I used my time in the evenings to work out and practice some of my pageant skills. Time management is my friend.)
My first task was to find a pageant sponsor. This is an enormous task and not just because there’s a leap of vulnerability involved in asking people for a lot of money. There’s a second issue, which is that the main business who sponsors you is also the name on your pageant sash.
Now just think on all the businesses you know and ask yourself if they truly are what you want your good name associated to. Just think about that for a minute: your name, when called on stage will initially be, “Mrs. [Insert Business Name].” (Or “Miss” or “Miss Teen” if you are in that category.)
Still not sure what I mean? Have a look at this hilarious website with unusual business names and ask yourself which of them you’d like to be known as on stage.
But then I got lucky. I mean really lucky. A friend who owns a coaching and counselling business asked me if I would like to wear her name on stage. I didn’t pause. OH yes I would! And so, I am now Mrs. Self Worth. And frankly, I can’t imagine anything better than this to represent who I am in the Miss BC Pageant.
So what was my pageant platform? It was “blazing a trail for women in the STEM fields.” Women representation in the STEM fields, namely science, technology, engineering, and math, is very low. According to some estimates in Canada, women represent 60% of graduating classes, but only 25% of the paid work force. In BC, that last number is even lower at 10 – 15% representation. There’s a lot of reasons for that and no single solution, but I have taken a stand on the one area that I can help make a difference. Young women look for role models they can follow. When they look into the tech field, there are some women, all marginalized by our gender. To advance, women typically “defeminise” (I may have just made that word up) and become as androgynous as possible, thereby conforming to the male standard of how a tech looks. By remaining true to my own idea of how I like to look, which is very feminine, I become a maverick in my field, but I also blaze a trail for other women to be themselves, which in turn can help pivot a male-dominated industry.
IT techs as whole are invisible. Yes, really, I mean that. Recently at a union event, we were broken down into job groupings. IT wasn’t on the list. I joined a random job group, group and added “IT” to the job list on the white board in red marker, then drew a female symbol around it. As usually happens, I was the only tech in a room of over a hundred people. So if techs as a group are invisible to the union who not only supports us but has me on the provincial executive, and women as a whole are only 15% of that invisible industry, it’s a bit of a standing dog fight to not be erased entirely. Other than the fact that I feel like the only female tech union activist in the entire labour movement, I’ve now added “Pageant Contestant” to the list. But – why be the same as everyone else when I can be me, right? Right.
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