Empowerment and encouragement: Windsor celebrates International Day of the Girl

Friday, October 12, 2018

The Windsor Star/Trevor Wilhelm




Think big, dream big, and study math.

People around the globe, including hundreds in Windsor, attended special events Thursday in honour of the International Day of the Girl.

Build a Dream — a local organization focused on growing careers for girls in skilled trades, law enforcement, entrepreneurship, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics —  hosted a breakfast and community awards.

“I think today is really about taking the opportunity to encourage girls to think big, dream big, and to pursue all of their goals,” said keynote speaker Jordana Strosberg, the Global Advanced Technology Communications Manager for General Motors.

International Day of the Girl is observed annually on Oct. 11 to empower girls, create more opportunities for them, and increase awareness about gender inequality. The theme for 2018 was With Her: A Skilled Girl Force.

The City of Windsor also declared Oct. 11 Dreamer Day. There was a flag raising at city hall following Build a Dream’s first annual Dreamer Day Breakfast at City Grill. More than 200 people attended.

Noting she had many mentors and leaders help her along the way, Strosberg told the audience girls need to be supported and encouraged.

“My advice is to not make assumptions about them early on,” said Strosberg, recently named one of PR Week’s Top 40 under 40. “If they’re pursuing career goals — they want to be an astronaut, they want to be a baseball player — encourage your young girls to do what they want to do at a young age.”

She said employers shouldn’t make assumptions, or make hiring decisions, based on women’s family lives or whether they have children. Companies also need to focus on “building up the bench strength,” she said.

“That means making sure when you’re doing your hiring that you have a diverse candidate slate, and are working really hard to find women and minorities who should be on that candidate slate,” she said. “If you can’t find them at your company, then you need to do something about it.”

Strosberg also had some advice for young girls and women.

“It’s all about failing and then getting back up again, and doing everything you need to do to achieve your goals,” she said.

And don’t give up studying math, no matter how much you hate it.

“That’s probably one of my greatest academic regrets,” said Strosberg. “I started having trouble with math in about Grade 11. I stopped taking the courses. That limited me when I wanted to do my undergrad in business. I ended up getting my MBA but it took a little bit longer to get down that path.”