International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated annually on March 8th. This is a day to celebrate the achievements of women, raise awareness against bias, and take action for equality.
We spoke with three women in the Nuun Community about their experiences as women and the barriers they have faced forging successful careers.
Grace Dafoe is a 3x Canadian National Team Athlete and Elite Team Nuun Ambassador. “Being a woman in sport is pretty awesome - I really think that it just shows to follow what your goals are and what makes you happy. For me, that is most certainly sports, but I am just trying to be a role model to go after what you want,” she said.
As a woman in sport, she has faced biases due to her gender. “People ask a lot about marriage and kids and how that fits into my sporting goals. Especially as I get into my late 20s. There are lots of biases because my lifestyle isn’t the ‘normal’ one.” Grace is no stranger to the generalizations people make about her role as a professional athlete. “Once I got told that someone didn’t think I paid taxes because I was an athlete.”
Grace is very active in her community. She works with three organizations, KidSport, Fast & Female, and Classroom Champions. She mentors kids in school and sport, instilling the life lessons sport presents to the next generation. “I think by empowering them, we are telling them what is important. I don’t necessarily think everyone needs awareness; we need difference makers!”
Tell us about a woman in your life who inspires you or has been an impactful role model: “From famous athletes to my mom, I am inspired by so many women around me. My mom is an entrepreneur at heart and taught me to advocate and stand up for myself. A woman who has been very influential in my athlete career, also a fellow Nuun ambassador, is my lead strength Coach Carla Robbins. She has believed in me in so many moments I didn’t over the past few years and helped me re-build in order to make the National Program.”
Lea Davison is a 2x Olympian in Cycling - Mountain Bike and the Founder of Little Bellas. An organization she runs with her sister, Little Bellas, aims to create more equity in the male-dominated sport of mountain biking. “Growing up racing in the junior ranks of mountain biking, my sister and I noticed that there were only a handful of junior women on our start line compared to hundreds of junior men. We wanted to change that and get more girls on bikes,” she said.
Playing sports has always been an integral part of Lea’s life. “Sport has given me everything. Because I grew up playing sports, I gained confidence, formed friendships, learned about hard work and perseverance, developed a growth mindset, and experienced defeat, highs and lows. Because I play sports, I know what I am capable of. I know my own power.“
There are barriers to being a woman in sport. “Women have enough barriers to deal with so lifting each other up is the only option,” she said. Lea has navigated these obstacles to create a successful career.
“I have experienced unequal prize money, unequal compensation, and unequal treatment to my male counterparts,” she said. “There’s belittling comments by commentators and there’s lack of media coverage. There are companies that sexualize women to sell. There’s the norm that female bike racers have to race fast, be good looking, have a vibrant personality, be well-spoken, and give back to our sport while male bike racers can simply be fast.”
Tell us about a woman in your life who inspires you or has been an impactful role model: “I was raised by a competitive mom who had no outlets or opportunities in sport because she grew up pre-Title IX. As a result of her experience, she wanted to give my sister and me as many athletic opportunities as possible. I want to give others the same opportunities and experiences I was afforded growing up, and I definitely want to make sure girls have all of the same opportunities as boys. Because of my mom and my childhood, equality and opportunity for girls are of the utmost importance to me.”
Emily Baird is the Senior ECommerce Manager at Nuun Hydration and on the Board of Directors for ZGiRLS. ZGiRLS creates a world where girls and women live with zero limitations. They equip girls with the tools and perspective they need to be confident, centered, and courageous.
“I am so lucky to be surrounded by strong women, both at Nuun and in my personal life,” she said. Growing up, she was surrounded by a supportive family that told her she could do anything she set her mind to. However, she recognizes that isn’t always the reality.
“When I was the only girl in my school’s mathletes program, I ultimately quit because I didn’t know how to handle the doubt from other people,” she said. “Any time my abilities were questioned, I pulled back into myself. It wasn’t until college that I realized I had the strength and capability to stand up for myself, and that I’d never be happy with my choices if I let others dictate them for me.”
Emily believes it’s important for women to lift each up, starting from a young age. “7 out of 10 girls believe they aren’t good enough, and that mindset holds you back. The world is missing out on the next great engineers, scientists, CEOs, astronauts, doctors, athletes… all because we as a society have failed to teach young girls the same confidence we teach our boys.”
Tell us about a woman in your life who inspires you or has been an impactful role model: “My mom has always been an inspiration. She spent her professional life working in a male-dominated industry and never let it hold her back. She’s never believed in traditional gender roles and showed me I could choose my own path. I was also incredibly fortunate to meet marketing leader Arielle Knutson through Nuun. She’s not only a huge asset to any organization, but she also lifts her team up better than any manager I’ve ever had.”