IWD Canada theme: Women Inspiring Women

Celebrating female leadership on International Women’s Day

March 8, 2022

Two VIU leaders share their stories

International Women’s Day, on Tuesday, March 8, celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and girls. It is also a time to raise awareness and take action for women’s equality and to work towards a world that is free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination.

One of the key considerations woven throughout VIU’s Strategic Plan, People, Place, Potential is to deepen equity, diversity and inclusion on our journey toward becoming a more inclusive and healthier place for work and study. As part of this, we wanted to highlight two female leaders at VIU, who shared their stories and thoughts on gender equality at post-secondary.

Portrait of Carol Stuart, VIU Provost

Dr. Carol Stuart, Provost and Vice-President Academic:

“International Women’s Day promotes gender equality and female empowerment. These changes take generations to achieve and while research tells us that educated women are more likely to postpone marriage, raise a smaller family, have healthier children and send their own children to school, progress is slow. I am privileged to be included in the fourth generation of women in my family to attend post-secondary. My grandmother, with a master’s degree in biology and a promising research career, had to give up a full scholarship to complete her PhD simply because she got married. Her daughter became a physician – impossible for the previous generation. I am privileged to work with a team of educated and competent women in senior executive positions at VIU. Still, the challenge of gender equality is present. When across Canada 26% of university presidents and 38% of VP academics are women, to be able to experience working with an executive team that is all women is a great privilege. I am also honoured to work with a Provost division team of leaders that are 63% women and collectively bring strength and diversity to all our discussions.” 

Marlene Kowalski portrait

Marlene Kowalski, Interim Chief Financial Officer and VP Administration:

“I’ve had a really interesting career with lots of opportunities, working in senior leadership positions in a wide range of organizations, from an airport authority to post-secondary institutions, and I’ve learned so much from each opportunity. I’ve worked in a lot of male-dominated industries, and many people have different attitudes about working with a female in a leadership position. Inequity is something I faced during my career, and feeling like I had to work harder than my male counterparts to prove my worth and get respect. I focused on staying true to myself, my values and how I feel impactful leaders should act and then put that into practice. It’s important to be present and passionate about what you do. I also think you need to take risks sometimes and make those hard decisions – even the ones that take you out of your comfort zone. It helps you grow as a person. I hope females growing up now do see the opportunities and that they can and should step into leadership roles.”

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