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Month: September 2015

First Impressions

Three weeks ago we said goodbye to summer and hello to a whole new school year. We met new classmates, and reconnected with old friends. Some of us were ready to get back into that old hectic routine, but other’s just wanted to climb back into bed. Personally, I was more than ecstatic to begin my eleventh year; not because I looked forward to learning the Binomial Theorem, but because I was closer to embarking on a journey, that was completely new to me.

Last Friday, GEM held their first meeting at the AGA Khan Museum. Twenty-eight girls showed up, which meant it was a full house. Now although I had a small lost girl moment in the lobby, I got to the designated room on time, and all the other girls made it in as well. I was surprised by the favourable positive atmosphere, which was more than welcoming. I got to say hello to some old friends, but most importantly make new ones.

Top 6 things I loved about the first GEMinar:

  • Speed Dating: Although I’m horrible with names, somehow I managed to remember the names of all three girls I ‘dated’.
  • Snacks: Riding the TTC can be a little hectic, so It’s nice to refuel before starting the meeting.
  • The GEM handbook: The handbook was not only tumblr worthy, but also left us a schedule that we can plan our other events around.
  • The Location: We didn’t get to see much of the museum, but the little we saw had us in ‘awe’.
  • Polaroid’s: Polaroid’s are so “in” right now, and even the girls who hate getting photographed were getting into their photo shoot.
  • Photographs and Videos: Maybe not everyone is into getting snapped when they’re not ready, but at the end, we all will be able to sit back and reminisce about the day we all met.

If that wasn’t enough to make the girls look forward to the next meeting, we also got wonderful Schwartzkopf SWAG. Now thanks to the staff at GEM, not only will we able to get some good life advice, but we’re also going to have flawless hair- even if it is under a hijab.

A lot of people can leave a good first impression, but GEM was able to leave a lasting one.

Tabassum Lakhi is a Creative Writing Intern at GEM and also a GEMgirl.

2015-2016 GEM Program Launches this week!

We’ve been working hard all summer, even if it doesn’t look like it (see above!) and we’re so excited about the year ahead! We matched 28 amazing young GEMgirls with 29 GEMmentors. AND we just hired 6 new Interns! So next step is to kick-off the program! Friday September 18th we’re hosting our first GEMinar for our GEMgirls at the Aga Khan Museum.

We have planned for a great year ahead!

Our GEMinar Series – we have 8 workshops that are planned for this year. We have engaged amazing experts like Dr. Vietta Wilson who will teach us how to use our own biofeedback to deal with stress better and Lisa Orr who will teach our girls networking etiquette to help them land their next dream job.

Coffee Chats – This year we have 8 potential career information sessions planned for our girls. Each month our GEMgirls will have the opportunity to sign up for a Coffee Chat that’s held at a professional office and facilitated by professional women in that industry. We’ve got a great line-up: University Preparedness, Government, Accounting, Finance, Medicine, Marketing & Communications, Engineering and Law!

NEW! Arts & Culture Program – Our new program was created to inspire our GEMgirls and help to create deeper connections between our Mentees and Mentors. The program offers each girl a FREE memberships to the Aga Khan Museum, a private film screening at TIFF, and multiple sets of tickets to cultural events like the TSO, National Ballet, Soul Pepper Theatre and more.

NEW! Scholarships – Our mentors have come together to create 3 new scholarships for our GEMgirls this year. The scholarships will be awarded by a Mentor Scholarship Committee to GEMgirls that best embody the spirit of GEM.

NEW! Girls Summit – We are working with our partner Bishop Strachan School to create an event where Girls from all over Toronto come together to debate issues that are important to them. We’ve engaged a design thinker that will work with our GEMgirls and BSS girls to create a day that will inspire and influence!

NEW! GEM Video Series – We interviewed some of Toronto’s most accomplished women and asked them tough questions on camera! We’re launching the series on our website next month! We’re talking leadership, mentorship, balance and career. Stay tuned!

This promises to be our best year yet. If you’re reading this and want to get involved, we’d love your help. Contact our Project Manager Cassandra Hammett at cass@girlsementorship.com!

On my way to Europe, I Noticed The Changing Face of Air Travel

GEM Creative Writing Intern, Mishal Dar, travelled to Europe this summer with her family. In this week’s blog she investigated first hand if the air travel industry is still stuck in stereotypical gender roles, or is it changing?

Summer travelling. That special vacation time when everything imaginable goes into the suitcase and anticipation of hotel room service and warm beach sand becomes unbearable. The destination is all well and good, but the airport in between caught my attention as well.

The last time I travelled on an airplane I noticed that there were far more female flight attendants than male. I’m pleased to report that this time around I not only noticed a more even split, but was able to chat with a female flight attendant to get a firsthand account of the situation.

Stella Vantendelo, a bubbly and sweet blonde, told me that she had always wanted to become a flight attendant because, as a child, she had admired the pretty uniforms. When asked whether she thought there were more female flight attendants than male she responded that her airline has made recent changes to encourage more gender equality, and that she has noticed an increase in male flight attendants since. Looking around, I could verify that statement as the cabin crew in my plane were an even split between female and male attendants.

GEM Creative Writing Intern Mishal Dar with flight attendant Stella Vantendelo. (photo: Mishal Dar)
GEM Creative Writing Intern Mishal Dar with flight attendant Stella Vantendelo. (photo: Mishal Dar)

It feels good knowing that certain airlines have finally awoken to the realization that they had been perpetuating the stereotype of being served by a woman. Opening up the job of flight attendant to males not only helps to eradicate this stereotype but it also creates gender equality in the workplace. With this promising discovery at the airport, I was able to start my vacation with a little hope for the future.