Mayor Masters reflects on past for International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day, which celebrates progress in advancing gender equality while acknowledging women’s ongoing challenges in various spheres of life.

This year’s campaign theme is ‘Inspire Inclusion,’ emphasizing the importance of diversity and empowerment in all aspects of society. The theme underscores the crucial role of inclusion in achieving gender equality. It calls for action to break down barriers, challenge stereotypes, and create environments where all women are valued and respected.

In light of International Women’s Day 620 CKRM sat down with Mayor Sandra Masters to discuss her insights into the city’s efforts to promote diversity and inclusivity and explore her past experiences.

She first highlighted the city’s efforts to promote gender balance and inclusivity while acknowledging areas for improvement in hiring indigenous women.

“I think we look at representation, whether that’s on our boards of directors. You can look at council from a gender perspective; we’re fairly balanced. I think internally, from an inclusion perspective, we take a lot of effort to hire and like to look at the data and see if we are achieving what we need to achieve.”

With notable women holding prominent roles such as city manager and solicitor, she feels that representation is one way the city seeks to Inspire inclusion.

Before switching to politics, Masters had a career with Conexus Credit Union and then at Richardson Agriculture.

The Mayor shared her insights on navigating male-dominated industries, balancing work and family life, and the importance of understanding and support from colleagues.

“At particular points in time that I was there, you’re on a team of mostly men at the table, and it’s an interesting thing because the reality is that I was able to advance and be successful in my career because of some of the men at the table like that.”

Masters highlighted the role of supportive colleagues, regardless of gender, in facilitating career growth.

“It’s been my experience that people of all genders want you to be successful,” she said. “They will actually look for ways to help you advance and be successful.”

She did note that it had its challenges.

“I think maybe one of the challenges was because I was a single mom, and I had four kids at home, the minute some of those tables didn’t understand the demands of what that meant for me,” she said. They just simply didn’t have the experience, and coming at it from a place of I just need you to understand these are the demands of my time.”

Masters expressed gratitude for the supportive environment she has encountered throughout her career but acknowledged that not everyone had the same experiences.

She said that there is plenty of support for women dealing with issues like harassment and sexism in both the workplace and in their personal lives, noting that sometimes another woman is the best support.

“I probably didn’t know until I was here that I’d get comments from women leaders in this community who would reach out and say, “Hey, just checking in?” or “How are you doing?”,” she said. “I’m not saying that men don’t do it, but women will do it in a way that understands that the challenges can sometimes be different.”

Drawing on her personal experience, Masters noted the significant shifts in societal attitudes and perceptions over the past two decades. However, she noted that only some things have changed.

“Twenty years ago, there would be comments or folks leading to stereotypes throughout my history. It’s been, ‘You’re pretty emotional, like really. Am I emotional, or am I frustrated? ‘ Now you’ll hear, I get called aggressive, and it’s like, is it aggressive, or am I just being direct in wanting a question to an answer, which I’m entitled to as an elected official?”

When asked how she deals with frustration, self-doubt, and sexism, Masters said it’s important to be present and have a good sense of humour.

“I find a sense of humour is an enormous asset,” she said. “If you can sit in a room and vent to some people, you can actually gain perspective. A sense of humour is absolutely imperative; reflection is always important,” she also noted. “Sometimes you have to go back and follow up and go, ‘I just need to check with you because this happened, here’s a heads up, that’s probably not okay,’ and then other times you just have to determine whether or not in the big scheme of things, is this important.”

Reflecting on the inevitable frustrations of leadership and sexist comments, Masters emphasized the need to persevere despite setbacks.

“Sometimes you just want to put your head down and bang it on the table,” she admitted. “Then, other times, you take a deep breath. If you let things like that get under your skin continually, it will distract you from what you’re trying to accomplish.”

Looking back on her run for Mayor in 2020, Masters reflected on her journey as a sign of shifting tides in the city.

“I will tell you that my general sense, in reflecting on getting elected or even running in a field of eight men and one woman, was that the city was ready for it,” Mayor Masters shares. “There was a hunger for change and an understanding that change could look different. Being a woman was not a deficit.”

The City of Regina hasn’t had everything go smoothly. The botched Experience Regina rebrand left many in the community feeling hurt and offended and proved to be a step back from the city’s goal of inspiring inclusion.

“You apologize, you recognize it’s not okay, and then you seek not to make the same mistake again and to act like a failure. Take mistakes as opportunities to learn more, and I would suggest that the city has learned more about itself in some respects.”

As Mayor Masters’ reflections echo the sentiments of empowerment and progress on International Women’s Day, her journey serves as a testament to the evolving landscape of gender equality in leadership.

Mayor Sandra Masters takes a moment to explain how she believes people should celebrate International Women’s Day.

“I think when you’re genuine in your reflection of how important the women in your life are,” she said. “When you look at women go, I appreciate what you do or value X about you. I think that celebrating women should be about what they mean to you on a personal level, and on a work level, whatever organization you belong to, it is just something saying thank you.”

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