General Motors communications rep encouraging women to enter male-dominated fields

In celebration of the International Day of the Girl, Jordana Strosberg returned home to Windsor as the keynote speaker of a community breakfast Wednesday, hosted by Build A Dream, with a goal of empowering girls to pursue careers in skilled trades, law and STEM fields.

'Build A Dream' hosts community celebration of International Day of the Girl

'Build a Dream', a non-profit organization led by president Nour Hachem, right, celebrated the International Day of the Girl by hosting a community breakfast, featuring keynote speaker Jordana Strosberg, who has been GM CEO Mary Barra's top communications person. (Michael Hargreaves/CBC)

"We need to make sure that girls in our community have the ability, power and inspiration to dream big."

For Windsor native Jordana Strosberg, inspiring women to enter male-dominated world is extremely personal to her. She worked closely with General Motors CEO Mary Barra — the first woman to hold the position — as her executive communications manager.

Now, she's the global advanced technology communications manager for General Motors — and this past summer, she made PRWeek's Top 40 Under 40 list of people in the U.S.'s public relations and communications industry.

In celebration of International Day of the Girl, Strosberg returned home to Windsor as the keynote speaker of a community breakfast Wednesday, hosted by Build A Dream, with a goal of empowering girls to pursue careers in skilled trades, law and STEM fields.

She said there's plenty of professional opportunities for women in the workforce, but "get squashed early on."

"We need to stop that at a young age and inspire people and teach them the steps that they need to to achieve their goals," said Strosberg.

She added one of the best ways to inspire women to enter male-dominated fields is through encouragement from men.

"I would urge people to teach your boys to support girls."

Nour Hachem launched Build A Dream four years ago and has seen significant changes from then until now. She said whole industries have become more supportive of diversifying the workforce.

"It's our first year hosting our breakfast and most of the people that came out was industry — industry that's saying, 'I'm committed to diversifying my workforce. I want more women through my doors. I want to help retain them and I want to help advanced them.' That's the biggest change,"  said Hachem.

She added the underrepresentation of women in STEM fields isn't a gender issue, but an economic one.

Young girls pursuing tech design

Grade 12 student Riley Scoboria said October 11 is a day to be proud of girls and to "express that we're not going to be held back by stereotypes."

"Do what you love. It's not about what other people think. Be yourself, always," said Scoboria, adding while she's proud of being a girl, it's not something she often thinks about.

"It's part of who I am and it shouldn't be a major factor in what I do and what I aspire to be."

Grade 12 students Riley Scoboria, left, and Victoria Doan, right, say the International Day of the Girl encourages them to celebrate who they are. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

Fellow grade 12 student Victoria Doan said the International Day of the Girl isn't solely about female pride. For her, it's also about being comfortable with who she is.

"Don't take into account what society says. Just do what you love," said Doan, adding girls everywhere should be proud, strong and love themselves.