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In a study out of Michigan State University, women said they talked less at work after mansplaining incidents.Unsplash/Mimi Thianh

Content from The Globe’s weekly Women and Work newsletter, part of The Globe’s Women’s Collective. To subscribe, click here.

When Karen Donaldson worked for a large health organization a decade ago, she routinely gave presentations to rooms full of male board members and directors.

“I was one of none,” says Ms. Donaldson, who is Black, female and looked young for her age at the time.

As she shared information on behalf of the foundation she worked for, some men in the room invariably cut in and re-explained what she’d just said. It irked her, but she didn’t have the words to assert herself and push back.

Today, Ms. Donaldson is a communication and body language expert in Toronto who works with everyone from C-suite leaders to celebrities. Not only does she now have the words to deal with mansplainers – men who offer unsolicited explanations and advice, often with a side of overconfidence and cluelessness – but she also shares her arsenal of strategies with her clients.

“We’ve been socialized to be polite, not to interrupt and not disagree,” she says. “And I believe that most women are unprepared to deal with it when it happens.”

Read the full article for tips on how to shut down mansplaining.

I can’t maintain work-life balance, so now everyone gets all of me some of the time

“Remember the planking challenge? You choose an unexpected spot – like your granite kitchen counter or a bus stop – and stretch out face down, body held rigid by your elbows and toes,” says Tonya Lagrasta, head of ESG for Colliers Real Estate Management Services in Canada.

“Now try this challenge: Pile a chair, laptop and phone on a desk and lift the whole thing with one hand. Then take your laundry hamper, slow cooker, your dog and a couple of your kids and hoist them all up with the other hand.

“Can’t do it? Neither can I. I confess that, like a lot of women with busy careers and growing families, I can’t maintain work-life balance.

“What I do maintain is perspective – on what works, what doesn’t and what’s most important to me and the people in my work and life at certain points in time.

“What’s worked for me time and again is an employer that gives me the flexibility to manage all the activity in my life, and an honest self-understanding of how and where I can best do my job. I’ve been working in hybrid arrangements for more than a decade and I’ve learned there are certain tasks I do better at home – alone and with my head down – and other tasks I do better in the office.”

Read the full article for Ms. Lagrasta’s thoughts on how organizations can build workplace cultures that foster trust.

Farrah Khan on reproductive justice, motherhood and the necessity of joy

Farrah Khan is no stranger to standing up for society’s most marginalized. Over the last two decades, the award-winning human rights and gender equity advocate has been fighting for reproductive and gender justice on all fronts – as a front-line worker, trauma counsellor, educator and policy adviser.

The change maker has a major career shift ahead, as she steps in as the new executive director of Action Canada, a leading national sexual and reproductive rights organization that works to advance progressive policies on abortion access, stigma-free health care, gender equality, 2SLGBTQIA rights, and inclusive sex-ed – issues with which Khan is intimately familiar.

Before taking on this role, Khan was the manager of Consent Comes First, the sexual violence centre at Toronto Metropolitan University. She is also the founder of Possibility Seeds, a social change consultancy where she is currently leading the development of Courage to Act – the national framework to prevent and address gender-based violence at postsecondary institutions.

After decades of working on the front lines, Khan is ready to take a step back and focus her efforts on advocating for policy-level, systemic changes.

Read the full article.

In case you missed it

Networking and leadership training aren’t just for white-collar workers – women in manufacturing need these opportunities too

Wenyi He was just 26 years old when she was promoted to production manager at AGI Westfield, a Manitoba-based company that makes augers for the agricultural industry. When working on the manufacturing floor, Ms. He is mostly in the company of welders. About 70 per cent of them are men – some more than double her age.

“I did have a lot of challenges since I’m young and I’m a woman,” Ms. He recalls of starting the role last year. “They think, ‘You know nothing about the [manufacturing] floor.’”

This past spring, Ms. He participated in a leadership development program operated by Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME), where she gained soft skills in communication, leadership and delegation. She says she learned that she can’t always provide solutions for the people she works with. “I want them involved. We need to brainstorm and solve the problem together.”

She’s already noticed a difference in her work, especially when it comes to streamlining production, which is an integral part of her job. “I talk to [the machine operators] very often and show them my passion for the work,” she says.

Read the full article.

‘Cultural awareness’ key to supporting the career ambitions of Indigenous youth

While on a student placement as a medical laboratory technologist in Barrie, Ont., 33-year-old Inuk Muckpaloo Ipeelie felt invisible.

“I was removed from my Indigenous peers and support system and placed in a very Western health sciences field where I didn’t feel supported,” says Ms. Ipeelie of the placement, which she completed last year. “There was a lack of Indigenous knowledge and ways of thinking.”

Ms. Ipeelie says this dearth of Indigenous knowledge permeated her entire three-year program – the course discussed a lack of resources for Indigenous communities but didn’t mention cultural awareness and issues such as residential schools, racism, youth suicide and substance abuse.

So, in January, 2022, Ms. Ipeelie created the Urban Inuit Identity Project (UIIP), a consulting company which aims to educate health care workers about Indigenous culture and provide culturally safe care. UIIP’s goals align with recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which include education to improve health care for Indigenous and Inuit peoples.

Read the full article.

Ask Women and Work

Question: I live in Toronto and I’m heading back to work after a substantial period of time on disability leave due to illness. I am excited to get back to work, but I feel that I will need some accommodations, at least in the short term. I’m apprehensive about discussing this with my employer and I don’t know how receptive they will be. What is the best way to go about this?

We asked Toronto-based disability management consultant Brillini Gentles to field this one:

First of all, I’m a firm believer that open communication with your employer is extremely important and will inevitably be the key to your successful return to work. As nerve-wracking as it may feel to ask for an accommodation, I think if you don’t ask for one, you may find yourself struggling at work.

My suggestion is that you speak to your manager, tell them you require an accommodation when you return to work and ask them to provide you with the company’s accommodation process. The process will likely require you to provide documentation from your treating physician as well as further details regarding the type of accommodation that you require. Keep in mind that it is completely normal for an individual to require some form of an accommodation when returning to work following an extended disability leave.

Also, it is your employer’s responsibility to provide inclusive, barrier-free employment facilities and services that are free from discrimination as required under the City’s Human Rights and Anti-Harassment/Discrimination Policy (HRAP), the Ontario Human Rights Code (Code) and the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). All employers have a duty to accommodate to the point of undue hardship and should be committing themselves to an accommodation process that respects the Code principles of dignity and privacy, inclusion and individualization.

Exploring accommodation options is a legal obligation for all employers under the Code and related jurisprudence; failure to explore requests for accommodation in good faith related to any of the Code’s prohibited grounds may constitute discrimination and a breach of the Code.

Good luck with your return to work!

Submit your own questions to Ask Women and Work by e-mailing us at

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Content from The Globe’s weekly Women and Work newsletter, part of The Globe’s Women’s Collective. To subscribe, click here.

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