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Fill the Spaces

By Amanda McIvor

“We’ve come a long way, but there is still a long way to go.” - Peggy Garritty, ATB’s former Chief Reputation and Brand Officer at the ParityYEG Founder’s Event.

The above quote could not be more true in terms of women’s involvement in politics over the years. Although this number has definitely been growing, there is still a ways to go before half of our politicians will be women.

But why?

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of speaking with Carla Stolte. At the time, she was running for the nomination in the Edmonton-Glenora riding for Alberta’s next provincial election.

Stolte first became interested in politics during her time as president of a community league board but said that “politics chose her more than she chose politics.” One of the things we spoke about was why she decided to run in the first place. Apart from being approached by the Alberta Party, the main reason she gave was that, if an election was called tomorrow, she wouldn’t know who to vote for.

So she took it upon herself to be that person. However, as her journey in politics progressed, Stolte became concerned with how few women she knew she could reach out to for support. The lack of women to act as role models is one of the main things keeping women from political involvement.

Society no longer tells women outright that they can’t do things, but it does continue to show them that they shouldn’t. By not being able to see an abundance of women in the political sphere, it continues to discourage other women from pursuing politics.

For Stolte, the lack of women she saw in politics further affirmed for her that maybe running was the right thing to do, even if she didn’t feel 100% competent or secure. She hoped that running would allow her to act as a role model for other women, as well as for her kids.

Although she decided not to run during the last provincial election, Stolte said that “in her experience, she has seen that the more diverse the room looks the better the decision for everyone in the end.”

Amanda McIvor is a second-year scholar with the Peter Lougheed Leadership College and has been working with ParityYEG for her summer stretch experience.

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