Celebrating Women at UBC: Christine Park

Role/position(s) at UBC: Executive Director at AMS Bike Co-op

What are you passionate about?

I am want to create a welcoming community where people can get involved with what they’re passionate about and help connects them with their community.

Who are the women in your life that inspired or inspire you?

There’s the obvious cheesy answer – female members of my family.  They taught me to look out for the people I care about and be a steady, stable, and completely committed person in everything I do.

Other women that inspire me are notable women in history – female artists from 60s and 70s when there was a lot of upheaval  in community. They shaped the way I look at the world.

What are some of the women’s issues you are passionate about and why?

I’m most passionate about gender equality, particularly changing the way the world perceives women and changing the roles women are expected to play, allowing women to be whoever they want to be, not what they SHOULD be.

What do you consider to be the most significant positive changes for women?

The emerging shift in the society’s perception of gender. What is most important about every person is the individual inside, not what they look like or who they’re supposed to be. Every person, of any gender or sex, is a unique person.

The first thing people usually notice about me is that I’m a female cyclist, and people find this very interesting, but not for the reasons that I hope they would. The main barrier is the assumptions I sometimes encounter. I’m really supported by the people I work with; they share our values and our mandate and they are awesome but sometimes, I get questions that assume that “I don’t know what I’m doing.” Some people would hand me their bike, then give me the look “where’s the mechanic?” So people assume I don’t know what I’m doing because I’m not a man or even a “tomboy.” Because I don’t fall under that category, sometimes people think I am not as knowledgeable.

But I understand that a lot of the expectations people have about women come from the societal constructions that are far beyond an individual’s control; it’s the way the world is constructed. So I treat encounters like these as a learning opportunity and handle it confidently. I show them that I definitely know what I’m doing.

What changes do you want to see or initiate in the future? What changes have you initiated?

Women & Queer Night! It’s a safe-space program by The Bike Co-op for all women- and LGBTQ-identified individuals. *Christine was a coordinator for this program prior to becoming the Executive Director at the AMS Bike Co-op.

The program was a bit overlooked by the team at the time, because there was a gender imbalance in the Bike Co-op. The program is a great opportunity for women and LGBTQ- cyclists to be more open to our space, as they may have traditionally not been as welcome in a mechanic shop setting and may be uncomfortable due to this reason.  Women & Queer Night aims to break down these barriers as a friendly first step by providing a safe environment for anyone who identifies as female and/or queer. In the past few months I’ve received a lot of positive feedback on this program, many attendees now just change their tires in the shop during regular hours like it’s nobody’s business!

One day I hope we don’t NEED a Women & Queer Night. And anybody, regardless of their gender or identity, can just feel comfortable coming into our shop and any bike shop in the world.

What does female empowerment mean to you?

A world where women can be exactly who they want be, not who they should be.  Society is such a complex thing that portrays many ideals and visions on how one should or can act; it really influences people of any gender, not just women. Women should be who they want to be, without facing consequences or barriers.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I have too many odd hobbies. I love crafting, and I am an avid crocheter. I also have a collection of over 250 records! I play the ukulele and I sing. I’m the ukulele cyclist. I love baking and cooking, particularly baking and cooking while dancing to music.

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