Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne will not follow Justin Trudeau's lead by appointing women to half of the positions in her cabinet, but believes she will get nearer to that target when she shuffles her ministers.
"We want to get closer to gender parity," she said, adding that when the shuffle takes place, Ontarians will be able to see "how we've been able to move."
The legislature broke for the summer Thursday, and it is expected Ms. Wynne, who is halfway through her term as Premier, will rearrange her cabinet in the coming weeks. (Two of Ms. Wynne's ministers announced this week they are planning to resign from cabinet ahead of the anticipated shuffle.)
For a feminist premier, Ms. Wynne is well behind the Prime Minister in appointing female ministers. Her current 27-member cabinet is 70 per cent male – there are only eight women, including her.
Her comments came during a wide-ranging and personal interview in which she talked about the pressures of being a woman in politics; how it's a little easier being a lesbian leader than a gay male leader; why she dyes her hair; and how male politicians are never described as "bossy."
About cabinet-making, she argued the circumstances were different for Mr. Trudeau, who set the bar high for promoting women.
Ms. Wynne said that Mr. Trudeau was able to build from "scratch," whereas when she came into office in 2013, "I was part of a cabinet that already existed."
"I have strong men and women in my caucus. And I'm going to do my best to move towards gender parity," she said.
In addition, she is not a fan of quotas for appointing women. Earlier this week, she announced targets that would see women make up at least 40 per cent of all appointments to every provincial board and agency by 2019; she called on businesses to set a target of appointing 30 per cent of spots on their boards of directors to women by the end of 2017 – and to reach this goal within three to five years.
She suggested Thursday that quotas can backfire on women.
"I think that targets are … something to aspire to, something to work toward," she said. "Quotas are a rigid, rule-bound thing that can lead to a kind of tokenism that we need to move away from."
During the interview, the 63-year-old Premier also reflected on the pressures of women in politics – the spotlight is always on.
For example, she vowed from an early age never to dye her hair. She grew up in the 1960s when women were becoming more empowered, and believed she was okay the way she was.
Four years ago, the pressures of politics changed that. Just before running for the leadership, she decided to start dying her hair. It wasn't because it was going grey, but because it was "just getting really muddy."
And like most women, she's critical of herself. "I look in the mirror and can't believe how old I look. I think it's that aging process."
She says there is "so much pressure on women from the time we are little about the way we look," and it doesn't get any easier as a politician.
Ms. Wynne made a decision long ago to be honest about who she was, including being a lesbian. As a result, she said, some people in her community wouldn't want their kids photographed with her. But she believes that was better than hiding.
She also thinks she has an easier time than a gay male leader would have: "I would say generally people pay more attention to, and worry more, about what men do sexually or otherwise, than they do about women," she said. "That goes back to an earlier conversation about misogyny and about the value of women. It's just more important what men do than what women do."
As a female leader, she is judged differently from men. She's been described as "bossy," a word that she says has connotations of someone who is "scolding or who is pushing people around."
"You never hear a man called bossy," she says. Rather, "determined" and "decisive" are applied to men.
"Words do carry clout," Ms. Wynne says.