Edmonton Women’s Networking Circle challenges male-dominated spaces

Edmonton women entrepreneurs help each other challenge male-dominated workspaces during an all-female networking circle.

Known as Womanition, the businesswomen’s group has been supporting gender equality in entrepreneurship for nearly 20 years.

The Womanition Network has united hundreds of women across Edmonton, and the group continues to hold meetings twice a month – helping veterans and newcomers alike build friendships and business connections.

Many members say the group was a safe haven when they started their freelance work.

“Going into business on your own for the first time, being an entrepreneur, being self-employed, is really scary,” said Donna Worthington, financial planner and founding member of Womanition.

“There’s a lot of support out there. You just have to network and ask for help.”

Nearly two decades ago, Worthington started her own financial planning business after years of working as a registered nurse.

According to Worthington, the career change forced her to compete with men for the first time in her life. She said that at the time, women held only around 13% of financial jobs.

To combat the loneliness of being a new business owner, Worthington said she decided to start Womanition with a few friends over 17 years ago.

“We just started with a handful of women and now it’s grown to hundreds,” she said at the final meeting on Tuesday.

“I joined the networking group so I could learn from other women in business, and not only have I learned a lot from other women, but I’ve also made a lot of friends over the past few years. “

Worthington said she plans to attend other Womanition events in Edmonton even after her retirement to keep in touch with her friends.

Building businesses where women thrive

For Cassandra Bauman, joining a women’s network felt natural because she said she wanted to feel empowered as an entrepreneur in the trades.

Bauman quit his last job in 2016 after his employer told him not to hire any more women.

Instead of taking their advice, Bauman said she decided to use her professional skills to start Off the Wall Painting and Decorating, an Edmonton-based painting group.

“When you work for someone else, that reputation belongs to someone else. I left with knowledge, but I didn’t leave with reputation,” she said.

Women entrepreneurs listen to reiki master Sandra Giff and check their pulse to practice mindfulness at the Edmonton Inn and Conference Center Hotel on August 30. (Anna Wdowczyk/CBC)

That same year, Bauman said he joined Womanition for help in building a female-led business.

“Men have more time to let go of their families and focus on work, whereas women really don’t and it’s really hard to compete,” Bauman said.

“I have tried to create a work environment that supports the mental health of women and mothers who need to be at home.”

Since joining the circle of networks, Bauman has hired a female-dominated team.

On her way to events like Tuesday’s rally, Bauman said she had to hold back the tears because she was thrilled to share her passion for gender equality with a room full of entrepreneurs.

“Women can do whatever they want”

There is a Stanley joined Womanition in September 2018 and has been an active member ever since.

As a taekwondo coach and founder of Girls on Fire Confidence workshops, she said she is always looking for new ways to empower women.

When she started taekwondo as a young girl, Stanley said there weren’t many women in the sport. She had three role models who inspired her – and now it’s her goal to do the same for the rise of female talent.

“Everything we’re doing here…breaking glass ceilings and making the decision that women can do what we want to do, it helps the girls behind us believe the same as well,” Stanley said.

“I admire a lot of women here.”

Dorothy Turek, facilitator at Equine Assisted Learning, said she has met many business connections through Womanition.

On the weekend of August 27, Turek hosted a retreat for women struggling with their weight loss journey alongside fellow Womanition member Dr. Michelle Tubman.

The retreat combined Dr. Tubman’s mindset techniques and Turek’s connection with horses to promote mental well-being.

“The variety of entrepreneurs…it’s just phenomenal,” Turek said.

“Check out the camaraderie of this group. It’s amazing, everyone helps you out.”


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