B.C. women inspire others to speak up and go beyond #MeToo

B.C. women inspire others to speak up and go beyond #MeToo

WATCH: Women speak out about overcoming harassment and discrimination at a Victoria event inspired by #MeToo movement. Tess van Straaten reports.

Another day and another high profile man falls from grace ? or so it seems ? as the #MeToo phenomenon reveals decades of sexual harassment and abuse.

“It’s really really important for women to speak out and share their stories,” says Victoria-based Raymond James executive and television personality Sybil Verch. “And it’s not just in Hollywood. Yes, that’s getting all the news at the moment but people and women in all industries are affected.”

Working in a male-dominated field, Verch has had to deal with a lot of discrimination and harassment over the last 20 years.

She says one of the worst was when she was just starting out and a big client, responsible for most of her income, used his power over her to harass her.

“I thought maybe I was misinterpreting his behaviour,” says Verch. “But no, it became very clear once I confronted him on the issue and he sent me a six-page letter the next day outlining what he was thinking and what he was expecting from me. I needed to have a shower after. It was horrible.”

Verch fired the client and took the financial hit. But the disturbing experience taught her the importance of standing up for yourself.

For female pilots, who still only make up a tiny percentage of commercial pilots, the sky is the limit on ignorance.

“I wish it was just normal and people didn’t make comments,” says Capt. Carey Steacy of Westjet. “For it just to be normal to have a woman flying the plane would be nice.”

Captain Steacy made headlines three years ago after a passenger on her Westjet flight to Victoria left a sexist note on a napkin saying, “the cockpit of an airliner is no place for a woman…we’re short mothers, not pilots” and “P.S. I wish Westjet could tell me a fair lady is at the helm so I can book another flight.”

“It was surprising and shocking ? it was hurtful for sure,” says Captain Steacy. “Most people don’t think that way it’s just shocking to hear there are some people that would think that.”

And that’s why these women are speaking out ? to inspire others and move the #MeToo conversation forward towards solutions.


Tess van StraatenTess van Straaten

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