Chantal Machabée, reporter on the Montréal Canadiens beat, likes to say she is now considered one of the boys in NHL press boxes. Part of the RDS team since 1989 when the TV station was launched, she is a pioneer for women in sports journalism. But, at the Women in Business presented by Rogers event held on Wednesday, she admits this was not always the case.
“Before RDS, I applied to The Canadian Press for a sports writer position along with 400 other applicants,” she remembers. “They looked at all the résumés and chose ten, including mine. But I was the only one who had to take a sports knowledge test. None of the men had to take the test.”
After unsuccessfully applying to a university communications program (despite already having two years’ experience in television), Chantal Machabée turned to political science. During a lecture on Indonesian politics, her curiosity and passion for sports led her to discover that Indonesians excel at badminton. Ironically enough, one of the 100 questions on The Canadian Press test had to do with Indonesia’s national sport. Her correct answer got her the job!
That is just one example of the obstacles a large majority of women in non-traditional sectors face on a daily basis.
What better than the women’s event of Rogers Cup presented by National Bank to highlight the impressive achievements of greater Montréal businesswomen? Chantal Machabée; Édith Cloutier, president of Rogers Québec; Isabelle Langlois, vice-president of production at Rodeo FX; Micky Lawler, president of the WTA; Juliette Brun of Juliette et Chocolat; Lydiane St-Onge of Lydiane autour du monde and Camille DG (The Booklet) were all on hand to discuss their experiences.
“It’s very fitting that Rogers Cup is among the most successful one-week women’s tennis tournaments,” commented tournament director Eugène Lapierre. “We actually hold an attendance record of over 175 000 spectators, and we’re very proud.”
While women in tennis have gained equal pay, this is not the case in other spheres. Dominique Anglade, Deputy Premier of Québec, Minister of Economy, Science and Innovation and Minister responsible for the Digital Strategy, was also part of the panel. She believes that despite the progress made to date, women still face more hurdles than their male counterparts.
“Just take a quick look at the number of women who serve on boards of directors. We’re not where we should be,” she stated.
“It’s an important issue. I don’t know if you’ve read The power of parity report, but, in Canada and Québec, the greatest potential for economic growth is women. That’s $34 billion in potential over a decade for our GDP. That’s very significant.”
President of the WTA since 2015 and dedicated to tennis development for the past 30 years, Micky Lawler has seen a vast improvement in the place of women since she first embarked on her career. She emphasized the quality and need for the initiative by Tennis Canada in partnership with Rogers and suggested a slight change for the next edition.
“It’s true that there is a huge difference compared to what it used to be. For example, at the start of our careers, we never would have imagined a panel of women,” she remarked. “From what I’ve seen, it was worse before because a woman in a man’s world wanted to keep her place at all costs and be the only one. That was very difficult. You had to find a way to join the club without being a threat to other women. But today, there are so many women’s panels, and I hope that, in the future and maybe next year, for example, there will be a panel of men and women together to talk about success without making the distinction.”