Exploring the impact of the Women on Weights program offered by the Pulse Fitness Centre  

Time constraints. Fear of injuries. Lack of gym knowledge. Looking silly. These are some concerns addressed by trainers through the Women on Weights program offered at the Pulse Fitness Centre.   

This six-week program covers various resistance training techniques as well as gym etiquette, aerobic training, nutrition, the importance of exercise and the body. Taught by certified trainers, the program provides fundamental knowledge and skills to enhance participants’ confidence and comfort at the gym.  

“When I was starting out by myself, I would have never gone into the gym alone because of that intimidation factor – being in a male-dominated area [or] being surrounded by a lot of machines that you have no idea how to use. The purpose of this program is to engage and teach women of all ages and abilities the importance of exercise,” explained Elizabeth Lang, trainer and life sciences student.  

The purpose of this program is to engage and teach women of all ages and abilities the importance of exercise

Elizabeth Lang, Women on Weights program trainer and Life Sciences student

The Pulse was set to offer three Women on Weights classes in the fall semester with ten participants in each class. However, due to popular demand and a growing waitlist, the program was expanded to five classes.  

To ease participants into the gym setting, the Women on Weights program is designed to progress in difficulty and slowly introduce participants to new weightlifting movements and machines. Having taught this program twice, Meghan Kostashuk has started to notice similar trends in participants.  

“In the first week, a lot of the girls are very shy [or] anxious and have never been in a gym environment or haven’t been in a gym environment since high school. By the time the sixth class rolls around, all the girls are doing movements that they would never ever do, like deadlifting, squatting with a barbell, bench-pressing,” said Kostashuk, trainer and a biochemistry student.  

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The consistency and length of the program allows learners to develop practical skills in a short time frame. Both Lang and Kostashuk described the appreciation that participants have expressed for the program. For instance, past participants have often expressed more personal comfort in open-concept areas after learning how to use the machines in the gym.  

“I was worried that I would injure myself or just look kind of silly because I didn’t know what was going on. There’s a lot of information online but sometimes it can be overwhelming . . . I definitely got a lot more confident in myself and my ability to go to the gym alone,” explained Celina Ruan, a past participant of the Women on Weights program.  

The program provides participants with a wealth of information while also giving them an opportunity to make new friends and accountability partners through the classes. Once the six-weeks of Women on Weights comes to an end, trainers will often encounter past participants exercising together at the gym.   

“I think there’s definitely been a really big impact on the girls. I still see some of the girls around the gym all the time and they’ll always come up to me and be like “I’ve been going to the gym with so and so from our class, we’ve become gym buddies and we go together all the time and we hold each other accountable,” and that’s such a nice thing to see,” said Kostashuk. 

In addition to the Women on Weights program, Kostashuk teaches an introductory lifting program in partnership with the McMaster University biochemistry and biomedical sciences society. Moving forward, Kostashuk hopes to open a similar program for students of all gender identities and programs.  

“With clients I’ve always tried to instill the idea in them that no matter how much weight you’re lifting, no matter how new to an exercise you are, no matter how new you are to the gym, there’s always a space for you,” said Kostashuk.  

With clients I’ve always tried to instill the idea in them that no matter how much weight you’re lifting, no matter how new to an exercise you are, no matter how new you are to the gym, there’s always a space for you

Meghan Kostashuk, Women on Weights program teacher

McMaster students and David Braley Athletic Centre members can participate in programs for a reduced price. The Women on Weights program will also be offered in the upcoming winter semester. To learn more about the program and other classes offered by The Pulse, visit their website.   

McMaster University has taken steps to memorialize Mahsa Amini but has not mandated accommodations for Iranian students 

On Sept. 16, 22 year old Iranian resident Mahsa Amini died tragically, sparking protests around the world regarding the circumstances of her death and the treatment of women by Iran’s morality police.  

After being arrested by morality police on Sept. 13 in Tehran for wearing her hijab improperly, Amini was taken to a re-education center where she collapsed. She was then transferred to the hospital where she died three days later. Authorities claim Amini’s death was due to a heart attack. Amini’s father claims authorities lied about the cause of his daughter’s death. Eyewitnesses support her father’s claim, saying she was beaten repeatedly by officers in the patrol car before being taken away. 

Signs reading “Say her name: Mahsa Amini” appeared on McMaster University campus near the path running behind Hamilton Hall and were accompanied by scarves and paper chains. This initiative was led by Iranian student Roya Motazedian, who felt the need to commemorate Mahsa Amini and stand with the protesters in Iran. 

“I was just filled with a lot of anger and kind of this feeling that I can’t sit still like I need to do something, especially since a lot of people in Iran are putting their lives on the line going out. . . what I decided I could do at that time was make use of the McMaster space,” said Motazedian. 

Another way Amini has been commemorated on campus was at the memorial held by the McMaster Iranian Student Association on Sept. 28 outside of McMaster University Student Centre and Mills Library. MISA Co-President Sara Rafiei spoke about memorial and Amini’s death. 

“The majority of people were so interested in learning, non-Iranians were interested in learning more, and then we had a few professors who came and spoke to us and offered support, which really warmed our hearts because for as long as I can remember, it’s always been, in my Iranian view of the world, no one really wanted to hear our voice,” said Rafiei.  

“The majority of people were so interested in learning, non-Iranians were interested in learning more, and then we had a few professors who came and spoke to us and offered support, which really warmed our hearts because for as long as I can remember, it’s always been, in my Iranian view of the world, no one really wanted to hear our voice.”

SARA RAFIEI, Co-President Of MISa

As of Oct. 28, at least 270 people have been confirmed dead after taking to the streets to protest Amini’s death. Iran’s military warned protesters of backlash and have taken an aggressive approach in shutting down protesters. MISA executive member Sara Ghasemi said it was difficult to contact loved ones in Iran at the moment due to widespread cut off to internet access and a drop in cellular service in some parts of the country, making it almost impossible for McMaster students to reach their loved ones in Iran. 

“Your friends are not responding or family’s not responding . . . it’s mentally draining, I can say for myself. Every day that I wake up, I’m crying. I see the videos and it makes me, apart from the guilt of not being there, it makes [me] feel even more guilty that [I’m] in a safe country,” said Ghasemi. 

Co-president of MISA, Lida Nosrati, said that McMaster could further support Iranian students at this time by providing academic accommodations for those affected by the current state of Iran. She said so far, the school had not mandated any accommodations for Iranian students and they have had a difficult time tracking down who would have the authority to grant this request. Nosrati spoke about the struggle to find further accommodations. 

“We went to the associate dean, we went to SAS, we went to the Student Wellness Center hoping for a bigger level of accommodation. We want them to reach out to our course instructors to let them know about what’s actually happening and how our whole community at McMaster is really affected,” said Nosrati. 

“We went to the associate dean, we went to SAS, we went to the Student Wellness Center hoping for a bigger level of accommodation. We want them to reach out to our course instructors to let them know about what’s actually happening and how our whole community at McMaster is really affected.”

LIDA NOSRATI, Co-president of MISA

On Oct. 26 protests erupted with a new force in Iran, due to the significance of the fortieth day since Amini’s passing often recognized as a day of remembrance and mourning in Shiite Islam. 

“Everyone’s been feeling like the way we felt when it first happened because of how important the 40 day mark is. So I think everyone, even students, are still grieving,” said Motazedian.  

Some Iranian students have received individual accommodations, but no widespread relief has been offered by the university. McMaster has encouraged students to utilize the Student Wellness Center, individually reach out to academic advisors for accommodations or book an appointment with International Student Services for additional support

Opening weekend for Marauders soccer complete after their matches against the Western Mustangs

The fall sports season is finally underway! This past weekend both men’s and women’s soccer teams kicked off their scheduled seasons by facing the Western Mustangs.  

Both teams hit the road Saturday to meet the Mustangs on their home field. The women’s team kick off was first, taking place on what was one of the hotter days of the year. Third year center back, Bryanna Caldwell, was one of the athletes to play through the heat and she felt the team still did a fantastic job.  

“I feel like our strong preseason, which built a positive team environment, helped to create strong team chemistry, in which we play for one another. In addition other fans and students who made the trip all the way out to Western helped to push us through,” said Caldwell. 

Making the almost two-hour drive to London McMaster University students Anas Takrouri and Yasir Kosso were among those who came to support the Marauders at the kick off. 

“We like to come out and support the team because we know the feeling that comes with having fans come out and support you,” explained Takrouri.  

The team pushed through the heat and ended the game tied one to one. The thrilling match saw McMaster come back to level terms with less than 10 minutes left in the match. The game tying goal came from a header by Caldwell off of Emilie Calbrese’s cross. 

Another thrilling match came from the men's team shortly after. However, the McMaster men’s soccer team unfortunately lost their first match of the season under new head coach Chris Markou, losing by a slim two to one margin against the Mustangs. 

The weekends second day of play came with much cooler weather for both teams to compete in. The women’s team kicked off again first against a Western side irate from the match before. 

Caldwell recalled the physicality of the match and the intensity in which the game was played. Both the Marauders and the Mustangs desperately wanted to walk away victorious after they walked away from the first match tied.  

“We were fighting against another team who wanted the win just as badly as we did. Each player on Mac worked hard to win their one-on-one battles. Even with a couple of injuries, we pushed through,” said Caldwell. 

“We were fighting against another team who wanted the win just as badly as we did. Each player on Mac worked hard to win their one-on-one battles. Even with a couple of injuries, we pushed through,”

Bryanna Caldwell, Third year center back

The game ended up going to the Mustangs, with the Marauders losing by one goal. 

Just after the women’s match, the men’s team lined up to take on their contempories and eager to gain points. They ended the game with a one to nothing win via a goal by Miles Green. This marked the first win for McMaster under their new head coach.  

“The pride of playing at home pushed us to get a win. We wanted to set a tone and bring energy to the home field and for the fans,” said Bryan Florent a member of the men’s team.  

The fan’s made themselves heard, cheering on the Marauders until the end of each game. A new outpour of support from the crowd has had an immense impact on the players. 

“The fans are like a 12th man on the pitch. It gets us going and fired up. A round of applause after a tackle, a goal or a shot, it gives us good energy,” explained Florent. 

With a rigorous schedule ahead, the support of fans will hopefully continue to help push both teams ahead. 

C/O Ainsley Thurgood

Reclaiming female pleasure through conversation and community 

By: Amelia King, contributor 

The word “sex” has seen the peak of its use in the English language within the past few years. Yet, for many, our relationship with this word is one that often evokes feelings of guilt, shame and embarrassment among other negative or confusing emotions as we dance around many important topics still considered to be somewhat taboo, including female sexuality and pleasure.  

There is a double standard that exists between men and women with regards to sexual intimacy, influenced by several factors. More recently, many women have begun to push back against these standards, finding community in breaking the stigma against female pleasure. 

Some studies have shown women’s attitudes towards sex tend to be more susceptible to social, cultural and educational influences, adding a layer of complexity to understanding female sexuality. Namely, the widely pronounced double standard that encourages men to seek out sexual partners more often and discourages women from seeking sexual pleasure exists cross-culturally. This pervasive double standard instills more fear, shame and hesitancy into many women about sexual intimacy compared to men.  

From an evolutionary perspective, it was beneficial for males to copulate with multiple partners for the sake of contributing more of their genes to the human population, whereas it was more beneficial for a woman to seek one long-term partner who would stay to help raise their offspring. Today, sex is commonly thought of more as an intimate act than merely a reproductive function. 

Along with our evolutionary history, social challenges may explain why women may be more susceptible to scrutiny and feelings of shame on the basis of their sexual choices, partners and desires, although further research is needed. Both women and men tend to value emotional connection when it comes to sex. However, the role of sex in a relationship can be perceived differently between women and men. In addition, popular media including film and television tends to project an oversimplified and unrealistic portrayal of female pleasure and orgasm rates. 

There is a key knowledge gap that exists as well. Studies have found both men and women struggle to accurately label the female reproductive anatomy, with this knowledge gap being more prominent in men. Moreover, while a complex interplay of physiological and psychological stimuli is responsible for both female and male arousal, various studies and female opinions attribute more weight to psychological factors in determining women’s chances and levels of arousal.  

In addition to this, with a greater average length of time needed for women to reach orgasm relative to men, it is evident women have a different pathway to satisfaction compared to men.  

On a positive note, in recent years, many women have found community in breaking the stigma against female pleasure, namely female self-pleasure. For many years, religion, double standards and social and cultural influences have led women to associate more feelings of guilt and shame with sex and their own pleasure than are observed in men.  

Since the gap in knowledge surrounding female anatomy exists in both men and women, acts of self-pleasure allow women to explore their own bodies with less risks as well as many physical and mental health benefits relative to sex with a partner. While pleasurable intimacy in a relationship is important, learning about our own bodies both intellectually and physically is highly beneficial in determining our own pleasure stimuli and our comfort levels and boundaries surrounding intimacy.  

By encouraging dialogue on sex positivity, a shift towards reclaiming femininity in sexual intimacy has emerged. It has started with breaking the stigma surrounding women discussing their pleasure in the same way men often do. Another key element here has been the increase in support of female-focused pleasure both with a partner and solo, as women increasingly value the importance of receiving equal pleasure.  

While there is a long way to go, this shift has created more space for women to explore and develop a healthy understanding of their own bodies. Female pleasure is not something to be hidden, ashamed of or ignored, but rather something that should be celebrated and prioritized. It’s about time women become enabled to uncover a wealth of health benefits in taking care of their sexual health as they take a radical step towards reclaiming femininity and their own pleasure.  

C/O Sasha Freemind, Unsplash

How to navigate societal norms as a woman and embrace the person you are

There have been many points in my life where I questioned my capabilities simply for being a woman. I remember as a kid life’s possibilities felt endless and I was not the cookie-cutter version of society's eight-year-old girl. I loved getting aggressive on the field with the boys while playing Manhunt, I chose Pokemon cards over jump-rope at recess and I simply did not care about looks or my poise. 

It wasn’t until I slowly started realizing I was not fitting society's mold and if I didn’t change myself to fit into it, I would be seen as less worthy. I began sitting on the sidelines watching the boys play Manhunt, I traded the Pokemon cards for the jump-rope and I started focusing on my looks and mannerisms. I started becoming more fragile and shy and avoided raising my voice.

In a period of time when I faced so much confusion, my second grade teacher was the only one who gave me clarity. He loved to read and write, specifically poems, and showed me that anyone could do what they wanted if they tried. He taught me that nothing can hold you back. 

I was still intimidated by the notion of using my own voice and creating something with my mind, but I still pushed myself. Years later in high school, the pressure of being a woman — as depicted by society — grew in intensity. From navigating relationships, adjusting to cliques and figuring out what to do after high school, the only thing keeping me grounded was writing.

Writing helped me use my voice. I had the freedom to write about anything I wanted to. While writing, I did not feel what I felt as a result of society’s influence and messaging about women — small.

While writing, I did not feel what I felt as a result of society’s influence and messaging about women — small.

ANA MAMULA, OPINIONS STAFF WRITER

Through growing up in a society that believes women should be viewed as fragile, nurturing and sensitive, it becomes hard to believe in yourself and find your own independence. We feel as though we have to turn down our true selves or tie our identities to something else to simply fit in.

For example, Canadian women gained the right to vote in 1960. In fact, the pandemic has rolled back women’s employment rates in Ontario to the same levels as 1944. Today, for every 100 men promoted and hired to a manager position, only 72 women are promoted and hired for the same role and for women of colour, that number is even lower, with 68 latina women and 58 black women being promoted in comparison.

It is hard to feel powerful and independent when society tells you to be the complete opposite, yet praises men for their bravery and boldness. 

It is hard to feel powerful and independent when society tells you to be the complete opposite, yet praises men for their bravery and boldness. 

ana mamula, opinions staff writer

My advice to any woman who feels belittled or smaller than they are is to believe in themselves. As cheesy as it may sound, every woman will be knocked down plenty of times in their life. People will question their skills and strength but as long as you have your own back, that's all that matters.

Moving with confidence and truly investing in yourself is what makes a strong independent woman. Be there for other women, work hard and the only person you truly have to prove anything to is you and no one else.

If not for my second grade teacher showing me everything I could gain from writing and teaching me the importance of valuing what I want to do, I would not be as confident in myself as I am today.

It is important to have inspirational women around you and to do what you love, take time for yourself, learn what gives you that feeling of freedom and run with it. Anyone is capable of doing whatever they please; it is all about confidence and believing in yourself.

Yoohyun Park/Production Coordinator

After dissolving for a year, WALC has officially been brought back

The Women’s Athletic Leadership Committee was originally formed during the 2017-2018 season. However, during the pandemic season, the committee unfortunately dissolved. This year, it has been revamped, spearheaded by fifth-year basketball player Sarah Gates. 

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“My coach [Theresa Burns] has been a huge advocate for women's sports ever since I was in first year. She's always kind of encouraged us to find our voices and stand up for things we believe in and as I'm now in fifth year I kind of realized that I'm super passionate about women in sport,” said Gates.

WALC is made up of several teams that focus on initiatives such as education panels, fundraising, special events and community outreach. WALC also includes team representatives. The goal of WALC is to create a platform that empowers women athletes and encourages them to find their voice. During her past four years as a female student-athlete, Gates realized an opportunity to step up as a leader, and aid female student-athletes to find greater success by utilizing the community around them. 

Mia Spadafora is also a member of WALC and she sits on the educational panel's executive team. She, like Gates, stressed the importance of the committee going forward.

“There are a lot of women in sport, especially women in Canadian sport, that don't really get the light shed on them that they need and deserve. So it's really important that we can kind of form and start this in our own community before hopefully getting more of an outreach and growing that towards other people and other communities,” explained Spadafora. 

For Spadafora and Gates, WALC is just the first step in generating a larger spotlight on female sports. They focus on women supporting women as they advocate for themselves and their own well-deserved recognition. 

For example, they hope to begin with women's teams going out to support other women's teams at their games. Spadafora explained that the stadium only starts to get full near the end of the game as spectators come out to watch the men’s game that happens right after. As such, simply putting women's sports on the map and building awareness is a high priority and challenge for the committee. 

However, simply empowering female McMaster athletes is not enough for this team. Gates wants to be able to reach out into the community as role models and mentors to people of all ages and experiences, from alumni to those who are no longer actively competing. 

In addition to encouraging awareness, WALC has many events planned on the horizon. In October, they recently completed their first workshop, the WALC Empower Hour designed to support female student-athletes in all aspects of their life including nutrition, sleep habits and networking. 

In November, they are planning an alumni panel with a coaches panel in December. They are also starting community outreach virtually by conversing with community and club teams about goals, goal setting and balancing a student-athlete lifestyle. There are many more events in the works, including a women’s athletic leadership event for International Women’s Day in the second semester with continuous workshops and panel discussions. 

WALC is back and here to stay. Be sure to keep an eye out for their events. Tickets for the women’s basketball and volleyball games are now available at https://mcmaster.universitytickets.com/

C/O McMaster Sports

Amanda Ruller and Taylor MacIntyre discuss breaking barriers as the first women in Marauders football coaching staff history for Ontario University Athletics.

The McMaster football team has two new additions to their coaching staff: Amanda Ruller and Taylor MacIntyre. Ruller and MacIntyre joined as McMaster’s first female football coaches as part of a brand new women’s apprenticeship, designed to help increase diversity within coaching in football. 

Ruller is the running back coach, the assistant strength and conditioning coach and she helps out with special teams (kicking plays); whereas MacIntyre works with the receivers and is the positional coach.  

This is a significant opportunity for these two women, as coaching varsity football is no easy feat. Both coaches’ paths were rife with conflict, but neither of them gave up their passion for football.

“Don’t give up. With me, I’ve been pushed back so many times being told "I can’t do this, I’m too short, I’m not enough, or I’m a woman", in general and I said, "No, watch me. Watch me go",” explained Ruller.

"Don't give up. With me, I've been pushed back so many times, being told "I can't do this, I'm too short, I'm not enough, or I'm a women", in general and I said "No, watch me. Watch me go","

Amanda Ruller, McMaster Football coach

MacIntyre echoed that statement by Ruller, discussing her experiences with football through high school and the difficulties she experienced along the way, 

“High school boys aren’t always welcoming in football. As the first girl to complete a season at my high school, I really had to prove myself . . . as a girl, not just as a player. I had to prove that I could play, I had to prove my knowledge and my skills of the game and I had to prove my passion. I really try to let all of those things speak for [themselves],” said MacIntyre.

This apprenticeship was unique for yet another reason. To be successful in the sports industry, as explained by Ruller, one relies greatly on their connections and yet, this apprenticeship held applications and interviews. 

“Coach Ptaszek [the Marauders football head coach] said this is the first time they did a formal interview with somebody ever,” explained Ruller. 

Ruller and MacIntyre are incredibly grateful for the opportunity they’ve been given. 

“This opportunity showed me that anything is possible thanks to McMaster University and McMaster football. Coaching football at a high level in Canada is possible for other girls and women and it’s really an honour to be a leader in that industry,” said MacIntyre.

The two coaches believe that this apprenticeship was not just important for their careers, but the careers of others.

“My goal is to have girls and women see the women’s football coaching apprenticeship program and know that they can dream of coaching in the OUA, U SPORTS, the CFL, or the NFL one day,” said MacIntyre. “I want girls to dream about coaching football at a high level in Canada and to believe and to know that there are opportunities available for them to be successful.”

Ruller shared an extremely similar perspective to MacIntyre in feeling that this was for a much greater cause, reiterating the importance of this role for future women in sports. 

“It’s not just about me; it never is,” explained Ruller. “It’s about paving [the] way and inspiring a lot of women along the way because a lot of women are afraid to get into the industry . . . I want to eliminate that and ensure no woman has to be uncomfortable with applying or volunteering.”

Both coaches are excited for the first football game of the season, to be played on Sept.18 against the highly touted Western Mustangs.

“I feel like we’re very prepared, we’re such a strong team, we have a great mix of all the elements you need to be such a good team, very strong on both sides of the ball, and I can’t wait . . . We are going to crush it,” said Ruller. 

Marauders football will kick off their season with their first game in over 18 months in a highly anticipated matchup against the Mustangs, whom they defeated in 2020 to win the Yates cup in the provincial championship, effectively ending the Mustangs’ 29 game winning streak against OUA opponents. It could become a very interesting season for the squad, with great opportunities on the horizon.

McMaster has seen a few famous graduates walk through its halls. From Eugene Levy to Martin Short, who have both moved onto great success on the big and small screens, it’s safe to say Mac has had some notable alumni. One of those individuals is the anchor for The Sports Network: Lindsay Hamilton.

On March 5, McMaster athletics and recreation held a talk where many prominent women in sports came to speak about challenges women are facing in sports leadership today. Among those invited was Hamilton, who I sat down with to interview.

Hamilton was a graduate of the class of 2014 and by the time she graduated was already primed for success in broadcasting. Throughout her time at McMaster, not only was she a student, but she was also a varsity athlete for the lacrosse team, a presenter for a weekly sports show on 93.3 CFMU and a host on the Family channel.

“I've always been someone who is really driven and I worked really hard at university. I think putting in the work then allowed me to have a platform after university to bounce off of,” said Hamilton.

Hamilton certainly had her plate full during her undergrad, but this never stopped her from wanting more. She credits her success to the support of her family, her strong work ethic and determination. Hamilton also touched on how being so involved at school was a big factor in learning how to take advantage of every opportunity that she could. 

Reaching for the stars and already having a strong portfolio in television hosting, Hamilton looked to focus on sports broadcasting once she graduated. She got some of her first breaks covering the Canadian Football League’s Grey Cup in 2012 and officially joined Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment in 2014. The MLSE owns the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors and many other prominent Toronto sports teams. 

Reaching for the stars and already having a strong portfolio in television hosting, Hamilton looked to focus on sports broadcasting once she graduated. She got some of her first breaks covering the Canadian Football League’s Grey Cup in 2012 and officially joined Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment in 2014. The MLSE owns the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors and many other prominent Toronto sports teams. 

After joining the MLSE, Hamilton’s resume grew and so did her screen presence. She is now on the desk as an anchor at The Sports Network for SportsCentre and representing an ever-growing and diverse presence of women in sports media.

TSN's talent roster is still overwhelmingly male-dominated, but the number of women anchors, hosts and analysts have grown a great deal over the past ten years. 

It is no secret that journalism and broadcasting was traditionally a “boys club”, but TSN is making a change and regularly sees two women leading broadcasts during primetime morning recaps, Raptors and Leafs games. This is one example of the trend in normalization of women leading broadcasts in sports, something that seemed to be a pipe dream in the early 2000s. 

The presence of women in sports is ever-growing. For example, Doris Burke, a National Basketball Association analyst, is heralded as one of the best broadcasters in the sport of basketball and the NBA is set to see an increasing number of women in positions of power.

Masai Ujiri, the president of basketball operations for the Toronto Raptors, has hired over 14 women to be on staff, ranging from coaching to marketing within the organization, more than any other team in the league. And he credits a good portion of the Raptors’ success to the diversity within his staff. 

Not only are teams and broadcast networks hiring more females, but the NBA is rumoured to soon be the first organization to ever have a female head coach within the four majors: football, basketball, hockey and baseball. Becky Hammon has already coached a summer league team, being the first female summer league head coach in the NBA in 2015. Hammon seems to be on the path to take over a regular-season team of her own, with analysts and journalists speculating she could end up as head coach of the Brooklyn Nets.

“As women, we’ve definitely come a long way. But we can’t be complacent. Push yourself out of your comfort zone. Try new things, seek a mentor. Know that there is such a great community of women who are willing to support you,” Hamilton remarked at the Women in Sport Leadership panel discussion.

“As women, we’ve definitely come a long way. But we can’t be complacent. Push yourself out of your comfort zone. Try new things, seek a mentor. Know that there is such a great community of women who are willing to support you,” Hamilton remarked at the Women in Sport Leadership panel discussion.

The importance of a mentor was another point which Hamilton emphasized. Building networks and having figures you look up to can benefit anyone. She suggested taking five figures who you admire for different reasons and emulating those traits.

She says the experience she was able to gather at McMaster was a major factor in perfecting her craft. The shows she produced for MacTV, 93.3 CFMU and her experience at local radio stations through her work study class were crucial in her development as a broadcaster. She could not stress enough how students should take advantage of all the opportunities that are provided on campus.

She says the experience she was able to gather at McMaster was a major factor in perfecting her craft. The shows she produced for MacTV, 93.3 CFMU and her experience at local radio stations through her work study class were crucial in her development as a broadcaster. She could not stress enough how students should take advantage of all the opportunities that are provided on campus.

“I think for me, and this is advice I often give to students these days, is that there are so many resources available to you in university to take advantage of. Don't wait until you've graduated to get work experience,” Hamilton remarked.

Hamilton is a prime example of a new wave in sports, where womens’ presence is long overdue. She worked hard and aimed for the stars, and now she is one. Being a McMaster grad myself, this definitely hit home. Speaking with her was like looking into the pool of potential that the university population has. There are so many talented individuals at 1280 Main St. W. and speaking to an extremely well established graduate was not only inspirational for myself, but I hope for you as well.

 

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Photo by Cindy Cui / Photo Editor

By Christina Reed, Contributor

Every winter, many women in Hamilton find themselves without a safe, warm place to sleep. 

Without protection from the elements, these women struggle to survive. As affordable housing in Hamilton becomes increasingly inaccessible, the number of homeless women in Hamilton in need of emergency shelters rises each year. According to a 2018 community profile from the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness, 65 per cent of the 386 individuals identified as experiencing homelessness in Hamilton spent the night at a shelter.

In Hamilton, a number of non-profit organizations collectively work to address the needs of women vulnerable to homelessness. Mission Services of Hamilton, a Christian charity centred around eradicating poverty, runs Willow’s Place, a year-round drop-in hub that provides safety and amenities during daytime hours. This includes access to showers, harm reduction services, a secure place to rest and opportunities to engage in creative and social activities. In the winter, Willow's Place provides extended hours, given that they secure sufficient donor support.

Carole Anne’s Place is an overflow women’s shelter run during the winter months by the Young Women’s Christian Association of Hamilton, a women-led service organization that focuses on health and wellness programs. Women coming to Carole Anne’s place are greeted with a hot meal, a safe bed to sleep in and hot coffee the following morning. Bus tickets are provided so that women can travel between Willow’s Place and Carole Anne’s Place. 

Violetta Nikolskaya, Senior Program Analyst at the YWCA Hamilton and co-founder of the Women and Gender Equity Network at McMaster, said that working around the clock was key to working together and providing essential services. 

“Our relationship was built on the collaboration of women's services —  no one organization can do this alone,” she added.    

“Our relationship was built on the collaboration of women's services —  no one organization can do this alone,” said Violetta Nikolskaya, Senior Program Analyst at the YWCA Hamilton and co-founder of the Women and Gender Equity Network at McMaster 

This is the fourth winter that Carole Anne’s Place has supported homeless women in Hamilton. The program originated from another Hamilton non-profit, Out of the Cold, which offers hot meals to those in need over the winter months. 

Previously, Carol Anne’s Place had been funded by Out of the Cold and Hamilton-Niagara’s Local Health Integration Network, one of the 14 provincial authorities that governed public healthcare administration in 2019. Ontario’s 14 LHINs were replaced by a 12-member Ontario health agency board; as a result, the YWCA has lost access to previous funding. 

There would be no provincial support for Carole Anne’s Place to open on Dec. 1. Without funding, Carole Anne’s Place would be unable to open this winter, leaving many homeless women with nowhere to go during dangerously cold nights. Willow’s Place, which relies on donations, would also be unable to expand their winter hours without further funding this year.

On Nov. 6, in a last-minute push, City Hall approved $128,000 in emergency funding to keep Carole Anne’s Place and Willow’s Place available this winter. 

This is not a sustainable solution. Sam Merulla, the Ward 4 councillor who moved to provide the donation, sided with this point. 

"It's not good management to have someone all the sudden come in at the eleventh hour and say 'we need a quarter of a million dollars?' It's not good governance," said Merulla to CBC.

"It's not good management to have someone all the sudden come in at the eleventh hour and say 'we need a quarter of a million dollars?' It's not good governance," said Merulla.

According to Nikolskaya, it is not uncommon for initiatives such as Carole Anne’s Place and Willow’s Place to struggle with sustainable core funding. The need to maintain emergency shelters in Hamilton is becoming more urgent with the rising number of homeless women in the city. Nikolskaya reports that emergency women’s shelters have been over capacity for the last several years, and she has witnessed the amount of women seeking refuge at Carole Anne’s Place increasing with every year. 

In the winter of 2014-2015, Nikolskaya reports that only about five women would access Carole Anne’s programming per night. In the winter of 2018-2019, this number jumped to an average of 14 women per night, with some nights seeing as many as 20.  

Often reaching maximum capacity, Hamilton's shelters have been turning away women in recent years. This is likely linked to the rising  prevalence of homelessness in Hamilton and a lack of affordable housing.

While monetary donations play a huge role in supporting the YWCA and Mission Services, there are other ways to contribute. For example, donations of socks and underwear are also valuable. According to Nikolskaya, any contribution can be an impactful one in ensuring that no woman is left in the cold this winter.

 

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Photo by Kyle West

Hamilton city council has committed to taking an equity and inclusion lens to municipal decisions going forward.

Two weeks ago, Mayor Fred Eisenberger brought a motion to city council to implement a new equity, diversity and inclusion lens into city policies.

The motion passed unanimously and calls for a report to be brought forward on how to introduce an EDI lens to all city initiatives.

Attached to the motion was a draft version of an equity, diversity and inclusion handbook.

The motion also includes an allocation of $5,000 for city council to hold an EDI summit.

The new lens builds on the recommendations highlighted in Hamilton’s equity and inclusion policy implemented in 2010.

Ward 1 councillor Maureen Wilson said an EDI lens will require the city to be more specific and concrete when it incorporates equity and inclusion into different policies.

According to Wilson, it is not about quotas and targets, but about a shift in decision-making that will require city council to include the perspectives of all communities.   

The EDI lens will first be applied to issues concerning housing and homelessness.

However, Wilson sees potential for it to affect how the city envisions issues like transit, helping to consider the ways that different communities, like women or bikers, get around in Hamilton.  

Eisenberger’s motion followed debate at city councillor over the city manager search committee and interview process, which some individuals, including Wilson and Ward 3 councillor Nrinder Nann, criticized for not taking a diverse and inclusive approach.

Denise Christopherson, the CEO of the YWCA Hamilton and chair of the status of women committee, has called for city council to adopt an EDI framework for years.

Christopherson said she is encouraged by the support for the motion at city council and appreciative of the efforts of Wilson and Nann in pushing this forward.

“It’s been in the works for a long time,” Christopherson said. “To develop a framework, this is going to be a multi-year work project that hopefully gets ingrained in everything they do at city hall. So when they're putting forward a proposal, it’s about, have they gone through the lens of inclusion? Who have they consulted with?”

The YWCA Hamilton currently runs multiple programs providing housing for non-binary people and women without places to stay.

Christopherson is hopeful that the new lens will result in more funding for programs like these.

“I like to say that the city should have a hand in all marginalized communities,” Christopherson said. “Hopefully we see more investment in those necessary programs.”

Community organizer Sophie Geffros is also optimistic about the new lens and what it could mean for current city council issues.

“I’m cautiously excited about it, because it signals to me that the city is at least beginning to acknowledge that designing a city around the needs of straight, white, middle class, able bodied men is not just ineffective but can be actively harmful for its marginalized citizens,” Geffros said.

As the city still awaits a report on how the lens will be implemented, activists and supporters of the motion are hopeful about the many policy areas a city-wide EDI framework could effect change in.  

 

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