The Dryden Observer

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Editorial: Let’s hear it for ladies

Chris Marchand

Chris Marchand served as editor of the Dryden Observer from August 2009 to April 2018.

If I recall correctly, my first brush with this idea happened in a dentist chair in early 2009 as I began a rather one-sided conversation with a dental hygienist about the growing role that local women were playing, not only in the business community, but as primary breadwinners in their families.

Still fresh in our minds was the loss of nearly 200 jobs from Domtar’s closure of its No. 1 paper machine in Nov. 2008, on the heels of a global financial crisis that continues to unfold to this day.

At the time, I had male friends who had spent a few months on the couch, adrift and rudderless after being cast out of very well-paying industrial occupations into a job market with no hope of restoring their incomes to a level that would support their family’s accustomed standard of living.

There was something very interesting happening at the time. While it was hard to gauge, it seemed like more and more wives and mothers in Dryden were assuming the main financial responsibilities for their households, turning once supporting roles into leadership roles.

For some hearty, proud men of the north it may be a struggle to face the perceived emasculating indignity of taking home a smaller paycheck than your female partner. Can men really afford such insecurities in an age where dual incomes are a necessity? Not in a place like Dryden, they can’t.

It’s a trend that is on the rise nationwide. Recent studies peg the rate of female primary income earners in Canada at 31 per cent — a number that has been reported to be closer to 40 per cent in the United States.

While some ascribe this societal shift to a result of a recession economy, the momentum may favour the ladies .

At the moment, women represent 60 per cent of university graduates with an average income that is increasing at twice the rate of their male counterparts.

But what of the qualities that are harder to quantify, like ambition and risk-taking in female entrepreneurs. I would theorize that Dryden’s downtown business culture is expressing some new traits — the seeds of which were planted in difficult years past and are starting to bear strange new fruit.

The agent of change here has been uncertainty, an inescapable force since the beginning of the forestry downturn. Most of us have grown comfortable to some degree with not knowing what’s around the corner. Some of us may have found our families fall victim to ‘new economic realities’ and were disturbed enough by the experience to chart our own course from thereon.

Combine these kinds of pressures with the wider socio-economic trends happening in North America and I think you end up with a hot-spot for female entrepreneurial spirit.

There has been growing recognition over the last little while of the strides that have been made to re-invent Dryden’s downtown business district. Whether there’s anything to the gender theory at all, the creativity and courage that has been expended downtown is indeed worthy of praise and your renewed consideration.

Maybe it’s time to take another look at what downtown has to offer.

 

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