Students in grades nine to 12 learned about diversity, unconscious bias, leadership, innovative career opportunities and the need for gender equality in the workplace at a student-run We For She NextGen conference on Thursday. (Robin Grant/Penticton Western News)

We for She event inspires Penticton students to lead bold careers

Student organizers say it’s important for youth to learn about inequality to change society

Penticton students learned important life lessons Thursday, such as how young women can be bold in their careers.

Students in the leadership class at Penticton Elementary School organized a We For She NextGen conference for grades 9 to 12 students on May 2 where they learned about diversity, unconscious bias, innovative career opportunities and the need for gender equality in the workplace.

READ MORE: Four per cent of Canadian women report being sexually harassed in the workplace

Student Ella Nuttgens, who is co-chair of We For She South Okanagan, said before getting involved, she wasn’t aware of how much gender inequality existed in society.

“We still have quite a ways to go,” she said. “So I believe that bringing this to Penticton and making other people more aware will help empower them to create a more gender equal society and more inclusion in the workforce.”

For Madison Helm, another co-chair, it’s important to get the message out about inequality so young people can change their future.

In 2016, the We For She NextGen leadership program came about when roughly 1,500 business leaders and Grade 10 to 12 students came together in Vancouver at We For She: Championing the Next Generation.

READ MORE: ‘My happy place’: Workspaces for women rise in #MeToo era

The program focused on how to support women in the workplace.

As part of the event on May 2, several local female lawyers with Interior Law attended as guest speakers.

Lawyer Angela Svetlichny said they talked about their experiences as women in law.

“Just trying to inspire the girls to follow their strengths and passions and talk about challenges and adversities and how we overcame them.”

READ MORE: Women turned away from underfunded shelters: new national report

“If you start down a path, and it doesn’t work out, then don’t be afraid to find a new path. That’s not a failure, that’s a success, knowing when to leave,” said lawyer Kim Kelly.

The event also featured Olympic gold medalist and cancer survivor Kikkan Randall in the afternoon.

Another speaker was Penticton Elementary School student Shivanya Albas, who talked about her experience as someone with autism and how society sometimes marginalizes someone like her.

READ MORE: EDITORIAL: Putting #MeToo to work in your workplace

“Unfortunately, like so many other people who have been labelled as disabled or incapable, I have faced many types of abuse in my life: physical, mental, and, of course emotional, from my peers around me, but I am here today to stand up.”

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.


Robin Grand
Reporter, Penticton Western News
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