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Girl Bonding Time

In a previous blog, I told you about our visit to Sonny’s gift shop, a bright and cheery little spot in Placencia where they sold homemade fish sculptures made out of coconuts. At the time, Sonny took us through the process: he sculpts the fish, his wife paints them, and then he signs them.

“Just you?” we asked. “Not your wife’s signature, as well?” He shook his head no. “Shouldn’t they be signed Sonny and Cher?” we joked. Again, he shook his head. He was adamant: he was the head of the family, and she was his support. Never mind that his contribution to the final product was repetitive and routine – every fish had the same fins, glued in the same place – or that she was the one adding the creative flair, painting the differences that made each fish unique. It was to be his signature, and his signature alone.

It was a frustrating example of how women all too often support men without getting any of the credit. As long as our family unit is intact, we’re happy to toil in relative obscurity to keep things together.

Of course, male chauvinism is not exclusive to Belize. While walking through a market in Cairo, one of the shopkeepers yelled to us, “I love you!” I was briefly flattered, before he followed this up by declaring, “I want to make sex with you!” Evidently, the two concepts were interchangeable in his mind.

Sometimes, this kind of behavior takes more subtle forms. One of my favorite travel memories was a horse parade in Cotacachi, Ecuador. Cowboys from all the surrounding haciendas came on horseback sporting the colored ponchos of their employers, and the ranch hands rode together in the parade. It was a beautiful spectacle, but I couldn’t help but notice how the men took the opportunity to demonstrate their manhood, performing death-defying tricks and wowing the crowd. In a culture where virility is king, it became a competition amongst the men to demonstrate their male prowess for the benefit of the women.

I don’t want this to come across as male-bashing – I still love and appreciate men with all their chest-thumping bravado, even if I sometimes get frustrated with some of the overt chauvinism I’ve come across in my travels. And while it’s easy to get jaded after 26 years in a male-dominated, often-chauvinistic business, I realize now how lucky I was to work with many men who mentored me and acted as my champion.

Still, I can’t help but notice how many of the attributes I observed in my male co-workers are common to men across the world. And as I’m sure most of you girls would agreeBusiness Management Articles, it’s always a good time to make a little fun of them.

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After a highly successful career in business, including 26 years with PotashCorp where she was Senior Vice-President, Betty-Ann retired in 2007, the same year that she was named to Canada‘s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Hall of Fame™. She now works as a speaker, author and mentor and is committed to using her personal and professional experiences to inspire and empower other women.  A firm believer in the value women bring to organizations, Betty-Ann explores changing perceptions of male and female roles including candid observations about what she calls "Good Gender Physics” on her blog at She helps both men and women understand the primary energy of their gender but also accept and appreciate the strengths of their opposite.

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