Kelowna business club welcomes women after 85 years

The "boy's club" at the Kelowna chapter of Jaycees International is coming to an end after 85 years. Only on Thursday did the club finally allow women into their club for young business leaders and entrepreneurs.

“A lot of the guys felt that this was their thing," said past president

The idea of a men-only business club might evoke images of Dom Draper's 1960s to many. ((AMC/CTV))

It took 85 years, but the Kelowna Jaycees is no longer a boys-only club.

The Kelowna branch of the young professionals and entrepreneurs club was segregated by gender until Thursday when over 75 per cent of its members voted to open the club up to women.

"A lot of the guys felt that this was their thing. The guys wanting to get together and have a poker night kind of thing," said past Jaycees president Sean Glendinning. "Girls have their night ... their book clubs, their wine clubs."

"If you are looking to attract the smartest young professionals in Kelowna, by adding the smartest women in the Okanagan and Kelowna region, that can only benefit the chapter."

The Kelowna Jaycees are one of the oldest chapters of Junior Chamber International, a worldwide federation of young leaders aged 18 to 40.

They were also one of the last to be segregated by gender.

Glendinning says that around 1987 the group changed its constitution to allow women to join, and for a while they did.

But in the 1990s, the women broke off to start their own group and Jaycees became all male again.

Glendinning told Radio West guest host Josh Page that the issue of letting women into the club had been a perennial one, but members were comfortable with women having a separate club and working with them on occasion.

He said the bylaw forbidding women largely stayed on the books because it required 75 per cent of the members to vote to change it.

To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: Club for young businessmen in Kelowna allows women after 85 years

With files from Brady Strachan


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.