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Ladies of City Hall say women bring a more balanced approach than men

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It's the year 2013, and yet out of the nine people running the Corporation of Hamilton, only two are female.

Common Councillor RoseAnn Edwards and Alderman Gwyneth Rawlins know they are out numbered but they are determined to break through gender barriers and make a difference to the City of Hamilton.

The two were not the first women in such positions, but when they took up their posts they found that the proverbial glass ceiling has by no means been shattered. Ms Rawlins is the only female alderman out of three, and Ms Edwards is the only female common councillor out of five.

“I am not sure it (the glass ceiling) has been cracked,” said Ms Rawlins ruefully. “Unfortunately, women are still regarded as emotional beings who really ought to be at home raising families. That is pretty much a universal view. I do think some countries have advanced more than others. I really believe that Bermuda is beginning to find its way towards recognising women. We do have quite a few powerful women in Bermuda, but by and large I think that we are still challenged by our male counterparts.”

Some of the challenges they feel are sometimes simply being heard. They both have a thoughtful, methodical approach to problem solving, an approach that can easily be mistaken for hesitancy or even weakness by people who prefer to charge ahead.

“The way we think and the way we arrive at certain solutions is a little different from the men, sometimes,” said Ms Rawlins. “But we are getting closer and closer to it being understood that we come with something to say. We bring something to the table. We have a voice that is worthy of being heard. We are getting there, but the challenge is still there.

“Men tend to be very linear and logical. If the numbers add up to the desired sum then that is the way they go. Women tend to step back and take a more reflective approach. They put themselves in the other person's position. Because of that they bring a more balanced approach. You can have fairness in the end.”

Ms Rawlins was chairman of the United Bermuda Party for several years until she resigned in 2007 alleging mistreatment and disrespect. She now works for Argus Insurance. She sits on the finance committee at the Corporation of Hamilton and the governance committee. Her goal is simply to make a positive difference to the day to day running of the city.

“I work as a member of a team,” Ms Rawlins said. “I would like to think that at the end of my term I could walk away feeling I had contributed. We have a big job to do. Running the city is huge. I would like to think I was a part of what took place in making the city a better place and being a part of its growth and development.”

When asked if she would ever run for mayor, Ms Rawlins did not dismiss the idea.

“I have been asked why I didn't run for mayor but I am one to tread cautiously,” she said. “I like to do a good job. To me in order to do a good job, you need to sit back, watch and learn. When I am ready I can jump in. I haven't thought about running for mayor.”

Ms Edwards gave a definite 'no' when asked if she ever wanted to be Mayor of Hamilton. Her aim as common councillor is to give a voice to the residents of Hamilton.

She had never been part of politics before, but decided to after having difficulties with a new development near her property in the City of Hamilton. As an ordinary citizen she had trouble getting her issues heard.

“So, I decided to jump right in,” she said.

She now chairs the newly formed residential committee at the Corporation of Hamilton. When she ran for the office, she spent hours canvassing residents in Hamilton to learn more about their concerns. She spent particular attention to senior citizens.

“I grew up on Angle Street and Court Street,” she said. “With the taller buildings going up there are new residents in the city. We do have a lot of issues. Parking is a big problem that we are dealing with on a regular basis. We have an overload of traffic. There is a lot of development, and the residents have not had a whole lot to say about it.”

She said there was a lot of pressure on northeast Hamilton to sell up their properties to developers.

“There is a lot of change coming,” she said. “Residents need to be aware of what is going on. I want to give them a voice.”

Despite the male domination of local politics, Ms Rawlins and Ms Edwards urged other women contemplating politics to give it a try.

“Let our voices be heard,” Ms Rawlins said.

Senior Alderman Gwyneth Rawlins and Councillor RoseAnn Edwards (Photo by Mark Tatem)
Senior Alderman Gwyneth Rawlins and Councillor RoseAnn Edwards (Photo by Mark Tatem)
Councillor RoseAnn Edwards (Photo by Mark Tatem)
Councillor RoseAnn Edwards (Photo by Mark Tatem)
Senior Alderman Gwyneth Rawlins (Photo by Mark Tatem)
Senior Alderman Gwyneth Rawlins (Photo by Mark Tatem)

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Published June 20, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated June 20, 2013 at 9:31 am)

Ladies of City Hall say women bring a more balanced approach than men

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