Women in leadership roles in Windsor-Essex say there are plenty of opportunities for other women to excel.

But a new study suggests Windsor is the worst city in Canada to be a woman, due largely to the lack of women elected to political office or senior management positions.

The study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives looks at differences between men's and women's access to economic and personal security, education, health and positions of leadership in Canada's 25 biggest cities.

“I’m very surprised we are at the bottom of the list” says Patti France, the president of St. Clair College, who has recently hired two women for senior positions.

“I believe there’s lots of hope for Windsor” adds France. “I think Windsor is a great place to work if you are a female, and there’s lots of opportunity.”

The study did find the wage gap in Windsor is actually smaller than average, with women making about 75 per cent of what men earn.

But the study says only 23 per cent of elected officials and 34 per cent of senior managers in the region are women, and women are more likely to be living below the poverty line than men.

“We know there are fewer women participating at that level, so I think there are ways in which we can empower women to participate in some of these non-traditional roles” says Lorraine Goddard, the executive director of the United Way Centraide Windsor Essex County.

One of those initiatives is the new “Build A Dream” campaign that helps young girls realize they can do anything.

The CEO of Enwin Utilities also believes Windsor is a great place of opportunity for women.

“I’m a lucky example,” says Helga Reidel. “But there are many other examples.

Reidel suggests the ranking is a reflection of the tough times of the last decade.

The CCPA also says sexual assault is the only violent crime that's not on the decline in Canada, and every city still struggles with high rates of sexual and domestic violence.

Conversely, the study notes Victoria, B.C. is the best city in Canada to be a woman, despite the wage gap between men and women there worsening slightly in recent years.

The CCPA says Victoria is the only city on the list where more women than men are employed, and they account for nearly half of all senior managers and elected officials.

"Statistics will never be a substitute for the full experience of lives lived. But as signposts they mark the spot where more attention is needed from our political leaders and policy-makers," says study author Kate McInturff, a senior researcher at CCPA. "We hope they follow through.


Here is the CCPA's ranking of the cities it studied:

1. Victoria
2. Gatineau
3. Hamilton
4. Kingston
5. Vancouver
6. Quebec City
7. St. John's
8. Sherbrooke
9. Halifax
10. Toronto
11. Ottawa
12. London
13. Kelowna
14. Abbotsford-Mission
15. Montreal
16. St. Catharines-Niagara
17. Winnipeg
18. Edmonton
19. Saskatoon
20. Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo
21. Regina
22. Calgary
23. Barrie
24. Oshawa
25. Windsor

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