Breaking the Bias

Ruby McEvily '23
CEOs, bosses, entrepreneurs, and much more -- women can do it all. Earlier this month, Greenwood participated in Women’s Week by celebrating some truly incredible women. Our school was fortunate enough to hear from entrepreneur Taylor Lindsay-Noel, the CEO of Cup of Té, a tea company highly praised by Oprah. In addition to hearing from an influential guest speaker, Greenwood also had the opportunity to hear from some influential and successful women in Greenwood’s community. Kristina Désormeaux, one of Greenwood’s Heads of Student Leadership, sat down with Mary Jane Dykeman and Allie Hawkey ‘09 to ask them about their journeys to their accomplishments in the world as women. 

Both Mary Jane and Allie have faced challenges and stereotypes throughout their careers that their male colleagues have not. Mary Jane started off her career doing administrative work at her father’s law office and is now a healthcare lawyer with her own law firm, founded by women, with an impressive 10 out of 11 lawyers in the firm being women. She mentioned that in order to find the success that she has, she has maintained the ethic of “roll up your sleeves and get it done”. 

Typically in big law, the standard goal is to become a partner at a big law firm. However, that wasn’t the goal for Mary Jane. She went off on her own and started out by doing a few “part-time gigs” in the field of health law. Although many people in her life, including her children, are incredibly supportive of her endeavors and her success, not everyone she encountered has been as supportive. In her interview with Kristina, she recounted that at an event, a man insisted on buying the drinks since “he was in a big law firm” and he told her; “Until you have partner after your name I’ll be buying [the drinks] because I'm at a big firm”, even though she charged the same rates as him. 

Allie Hawkey ‘09 has worked at many positions in her career path thus far, starting off as a recruiter, then working at RBC in commercial banking. She currently works in wealth management as a family team with her father. Like Mary Jane, her career hasn’t been linear in the way that is the typical and conventional career path for many. Not always one for convention, she followed her instincts to pursue jobs that felt right for her at a given time.

Going into a male-dominated career, Allie recounted her time at Western University and mentioned how she was fortunate enough to experience an even split of men and women in the Ivey program. She mentioned that a huge factor in her success was surrounding herself with, and working for, plenty of female partners. She explained to Kristina that that experience was very empowering and helped her to realize how beneficial it was to have internal resources, groups, and connections with high-level bosses who are women to have resources to draw support from. Having these strong female mentors provided Allie with role models when it came to work-life balance. Seeing how her mentors navigated these traditionally male-dominated spaces helped Allie realize that, “If they can do it, so can I”. 

Kristina asked both of these incredible women, “If you could give some advice to girls going into male-dominated fields, what would it be?” Both Mary Jane and Allie had similar advice in the sense that they both encouraged young girls to surround themselves with people who will help them succeed and find allies and strong female mentors to build an important network of successful women that you admire. They also both said to just go for it. Allie said, “Don’t be afraid and don’t hold yourself back” and that it shouldn’t matter if your career is in what is traditionally a male-dominated space if that’s the path you want to follow. Mary Jane echoed that sentiment, encouraging girls and women to “challenge barriers and do it either as well or better” than the people that set those barriers. 

If there is one thing absolutely everyone can take away from the advice these two admirable women have given us, is to “Throw what other people think out of the window and do what matters to you.”(Allie Hawkey).

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