When Jacqui Cardillo first began work at Ford some 30 years ago, she found an environment less than welcoming to women.
“There wasn’t a locker room, just an area of the production floor with lockers in it,” she recalls. “I had to turn my back so the men wouldn’t think I was watching them.”
Feeling uncomfortable changing in front of her co-workers, Cardillo simply pulled coveralls over her street clothes.
Although workplaces have improved since then, progress still remains before they can be called equitable, she told those gathered Tuesday in the Odette Building for a sneak preview of the 2014 Distinguished Visitors in Women’s Studies program.
Cardillo, a tool- and die-maker and 2014 grad of women’s studies, shared her experiences to help set the tone for this year’s theme, “Women’s Lives, What’s Working?” Events this fall will allow for a broad view of the topic, says organizer Renée Bondy.
“We all work, don’t we—whether it’s paid, underpaid or unpaid,” she says. “It’s a theme everyone has some investment in.”
Discussions will range from employment issues to volunteering, care-giving and activism: work that is essential to society but often unacknowledged.
“The way we think about work is changing in the 21st century,” Dr. Bondy says. “While there are so many more opportunities for women, it raises new questions.”
The centrepiece of this fall’s program is the community keynote event, October 29 at the WFCU Centre.
Titled “The Work of Feminist Activism,” it will feature Shari Graydon, founder of Informed Opinions, a social enterprise which works to build women’s leadership through media engagement, and Julie S. Lalonde, a social justice advocate working in the areas of sexual violence prevention and reproductive justice.