I feel very humbled and honoured to be receiving this award in front of so many accomplished, ambitious women. I feel very lucky and extraordinarily privileged to be here among all of you. I am privileged because I have a very supportive network of family and friends. I am privileged because I live in a first-world country where I have an endless number of opportunities to pursue anything I desire. So many women are not as lucky and never have the opportunity to pursue their own dreams.
I’ve worked with a number of young women as a tutor for many, many years, ranging from five years old to 20 years old. Something I’ve noticed throughout my professional and personal life is that many highly capable, intelligent women select themselves out of great opportunities. When I attended a leadership seminar a couple of weeks ago, I asked the mediator, Emily, why that was the case — why do women self-select out? She said: “It starts from the playground where girls are taught to play games where they have to take turns, share and be fair — first I’ll be princess, then you and then you — whereas boys are taught to take risks, fall off the jungle gym and compete — they are taught there are losers and winners. They are taught how to win — and how to lose.” I can’t say this dichotomy is true for all children; however, I think it’s true for too many girls.
I see it when girls turn away from STEM courses because they “hate math.” I see it when young women (including myself) use minimizing language and apologize far too often for taking up space and time. I see it in my MBA program where only 30% of the class is women. I see it during my internship where there are 10 men to every one woman. And as disheartening as this may be, it is equally encouraging to know that I have women in leadership programs and networks like the Canadian Association of Women Executives and Entrepreneurs that are here to support my dreams and aspirations. I am inspired by your tenacity and your support of one another. You are role models for the future generation of women who will look at you as proof that they are as capable as anyone else. Thank you.