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Would you ask a man that question?

Shelby Kramp-Neuman [1]

At an all-candidates meeting, Shelby Kramp-Neuman was asked how she would juggle her work and family life with council duties.

By Alisa Howlett [2]

BELLEVILLE – Discrimination against women in politics still exists in 2014, according to the spokeswoman for a group that works to encourage women’s political participation. And a political leader in the local area experienced this first-hand.

Shelby Kramp-Neuman [3] has sat as a councillor for Centre Hastings [4] for three terms. She is now vying for the position of deputy mayor. Although she has 10 years’ experience in municipal politics, that didn’t stop someone from asking her a question at a recent all-candidates meeting that probably would not have been posed to a man.

The question to Kramp-Neuman, the only female candidate, was how she plans on juggling work, family and council.

Her response: “Of course it’s a juggle, but it’s no different than anyone else.”

Kramp-Neuman said she wasn’t concerned by the question, because answering it gave her a chance to show “that there is a place on municipal government for working parents – be it a mom or a dad or what have you. It adds a whole new dynamic to council that there isn’t enough of. We see things from a different light.”

She also said she wasn’t surprised by the question, because in a debate you never know what people will ask.

Kramp-Neuman, a financial adviser at Sun Life, said she  gets asked similar questions every time she speaks at a work conference.

“It’s unfortunate for people to think that that would be an issue,” she said.

Sylvie Goneau, chair of a committee of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities [5] that works to increase women’s participation in municipal politics, says the same kinds of questions could be asked of a man.

“It’s a society question. It’s not even a female-based question anymore,” she said.

Nancy Peckford, executive director of Equal Voice [6] – an organization that promotes women at all levels of government – said the majority of women have both parental and work responsibilities.

“What do we say (to that question)? We say, ‘It’s not relevant.’ That’s what we say,” she said, laughing.

Peckford used federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau [7] as an example of a male politician balancing young children and a political career.

Kramp-Neuman noted that other candidates seeking office in Centre Hastings have young children, but they were not asked the question at the all-candidates meeting.

Related: 

Women underrepresented in Belleville municipal election, candidates say [8]

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