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Inspiring Words: Anna Marenick

On Friday, May 10, 2013 Anna Marenick, Human Resources Manager, at Irving Shipbuilding Inc., was a guest speaker at the Saint Mary’s University Techsplorer Event. An officer of the Techsploration Board of Directors, her passionate words were as inspiring as they were relevant; catching the attention of every ear in the room. For everyone who missed it, the transcript is as follows: 

There’s a lot of really scary stuff going on in the news today. Younger generations are unemployed longer…some would say Gen Y aren’t underemployed or unemployed, they’re lazy. They’re not loyal. They switch jobs and they’re the new lost generation. Education is exorbitantly expensive, and unrelated to future labour market needs. Debt loads are higher than ever and unsustainable. Bullying and harassment are pervasive in schools today; we know that all too well. Makes a compelling case to stop reading the news, in my opinion.

Techsploration’s mission is to empower young women to explore careers in science, trades, and technology at a very important stage in life. What does empower mean? To give power or authority to. To enable. To permit. None of those words imply lazy or lost. They inspire choice. And direction. Girls with self-confidence aren’t lost. Girls with self-esteem can’t be lazy. In my opinion, give a girl an opportunity to see what’s out there – and once she discovers her passion, get the heck out of her way while she proves the experts wrong. She’ll pursue postsecondary education in a planful, thoughtful, deliberate way. She’ll be too busy trailblazing to be perceived as lazy!

We don’t believe Gen Y girls can be lazy, since they’re blazing trails generations before them began forging. I happened to come across an article written by Warren Buffett in Fortune Magazine, who recently said that America (which I will expand to North America) will experience greater success in future generations because women will be more equally included than ever before. If we experienced the success we did while only employing half our citizens in our workforce, imagine how much better we’ll be when we include our entire population in a more equal way. He talked about his sisters, and even though they were just as intelligent as he was, their hope of success was to come through marrying well. He said, simply because he was a boy, ‘his floor was their ceiling’. So, while a lot of Baby Boom and Gen X women might have sore heads from trying to smash that ceiling, we’ll take our knocks. Looking out at this room makes it worth it.

Also, what makes it worth it for me and the Techsploration board is that this is slowly not becoming a women’s issue. Men are splintering the cracks in the ceiling, too. They’re doing it on behalf of their sisters, wives, daughters, and coworkers. Systematically, we’re cracking it. And the empowered girls coming through Techsploration will run right through it and just get to the business of doing their work. 

So, we are constantly talking how Techsploration can do more. Go farther. Reach higher. Break ceilings everywhere. It’s a new age and the world is flat, but the issues of women under-representation exist everywhere. There are lots of groups doing good work but the dilemmas facing girls in Grade 9 exist everywhere. We know what we do matters. We can see it today. You matter, sitting in this room. You make a difference for girls everywhere just because you had the courage to do what you do…and crack the ceiling.  Every little crack makes a difference. But, we’ve got lots of glass left to go. We know Techsploration brings with it a great force to crack it. We want to figure out how we leverage that…so, coast to coast to coast, the booms you hear will be the sounds of glass shattering while the unlazy, unlost Gen Y Techsploration girls who pursue careers made from passion in science, trades, and technology are hard at work.

I leave you with a message spoken this past Sunday by a dear friend of my family. Jim Mulcahy was given an honorary Doctorate at StFX for his work in education and palliative care. In his address, he spoke directly to the women in the room—prefacing that he had three strong daughters and an extraordinarily strong wife, who is herself quite ill and bravely fighting an incurable disease. He said the following:

“Ladies–for the sake of your sisters and your brothers throughout the world–do not belittle the dignity of your own professional lives by walking behind anyone. You walk alongside, and in front when necessary, but not behind. Not behind.”

Thank you for doing what you do every day for girls and women in our community.  It matters.