Celebrating International Women’s Day with Erin Ryan

A picture of Erin Ryan, President of The Fur-Bearers Board of Directors.
Erin Ryan, RPbio, BSc, MSc, is the President of The Fur-Bearers' Board of Directors.

In celebration of International Women’s Day, we’re pleased to honour and recognize President of The Fur-Bearers’ Board  of Directors, Erin Ryan. Erin has been an active supporter and volunteer for The Fur-Bearers for almost 10 years! Erin is a Registered Professional Biologist who holds a BSc in Applied Biology and an MSc in Applied Animal Biology from the University of British Columbia. Much of her work experience focusses on wild animal welfare and she has experience in research, communications, stakeholder relations, fundraising and event planning. Erin is a proud member of the Syilx nation.

In a recent interview, we asked Erin what International Women’s Day means to her, and her thoughts on the future.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you personally, and how do you plan to acknowledge it this year?

 I see it as a day of celebration and recognition – an opportunity to recognize the most important women in my own life, and women around the world continually forging equality. I know this year’s theme is “inspiring inclusion”, ensuring that women and girls are included in conversations and policies that recognize their needs, interests and aspirations. Very fittingly, I have a number of student mentoring meetings set up for the day – hoping that I can help support and maybe even inspire the next generations. And as always, I’ll be calling/texting my mom, stepmom, grandmas, aunts, and sisters, to tell them I love them. 

A picture of The Fur-Bearers' board president Erin Ryan with her grandmother and mother.
Erin Ryan with her grandmother Donna, and mom Lori.

How have the women in your life inspired you, or impacted your life or work?

One of the things I reflect on often are the gifts my mother and grandmother gave me: my sense of empathy and caring for others. Although this seems obvious in the care and protection of animals, it also helps me relate better to people to form relationships, which ultimately inspires change for animals. I am also grateful to have enjoyed a life-long close bond with my two sisters – it means a lot to have two women in my life that love and support me unconditionally, and we’re always working to lift each other up.  

I have also had the great privilege of having women as career mentors, which I think was especially important during my early career. In addition to being powerful role models who led by example, they were also active participants and advocates for my professional growth. 

What advice would you give to women who may feel discouraged or overwhelmed by societal expectations or gender-based barriers particularly those found in academia and science?

I remember reading once that men will apply for job/funding opportunities where they meet ~60% of the criteria, whereas women will apply only when they feel they meet nearly 100%. When I applied for a “dream opportunity” many years ago, I was not confident I met the criteria and almost didn’t apply. I did, and I landed the job. I later found out the position had basically been written to hire me. If it speaks to you, don’t hold back!

Particularly in situations like salary negotiations, performance reviews or other conversations where women systemically under-value themselves, I mentally try to put on what I call my “white man pants”.  It sounds silly, but I find it helps me visualize and articulate the things that I deserve (as an Indigenous woman) just as much a white, male colleague does. 

A picture of Erin Ryan giving a presentation
Erin Ryan at a presentation discussing wildlife coexistence for The Fur-Bearers.

What actions do you believe individuals and organizations can take to promote gender equality and women’s rights beyond just one day of celebration?

Individuals at home and in the workplace must learn to start recognizing and addressing the small and insidious gender-based expectations and barriers faced by women. For example, in the workplace, women are more likely to be asked to take notes than equally-experienced male colleagues. A simple rotation system for chairing and taking meeting minutes can help foster a more inclusive environment. At home, it would take a novel to describe the often unseen emotional labour that women are expected to contribute, even while working full-time jobs. Take the time to really reflect and acknowledge how this affects the women in your life. Rather than asking them for a list (which is another task in and of itself) – observe, reflect, make notes, and just start doing

Organizationally, this includes difficult but necessary tasks like implementing and enforcing equal pay policies and salary transparency, flexible work arrangements (whether remote/hybrid work, or greater flexibility in hours), supportive parental leave, and active mentorship/promotion of women into leadership roles. 

Although there is often a greater proportion of female employees to male in animal welfare, this ratio doesn’t often hold true for positions in leadership. Organizations must actively work towards increasing the representation of women and underrepresented genders in leadership – including setting discrete diversity targets that the organization is held accountable to. 

Who inspires you on International Women’s Day? Let us know by commenting on our Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram pages!

Help Make A Difference

Join The Fur-Bearers today and help us protect fur-bearing animals in the wild and confinement. To become a monthly donor (for as little as $10/month – the cost of two lattes) please click here and help us save lives today. Your donation is tax-deductible.


Latest Posts

Defender Radio

Listen To The Latest
  • Listen To The Latest

About Us

Established in 1953, The Fur-Bearers is a charitable, non-partisan organization whose goals are to end the commercial fur trade and promote solutions for wildlife coexistence in communities. Your donation is tax-deductible. Charitable registration number: 130006125RR0002

1% For The Planet Partner

Pin It on Pinterest

Scroll to Top