Melissa

Level Up – The Diversity Women’s Business Leadership Conference

Since its inception, Diversity Woman Magazine has recognized the importance of leadership development and empowerment for diverse women. Aiming to educate and support diverse and multicultural women leaders and to facilitate their continued growth and success, the organization more than delivered through their annual Business Leadership Conference in November.

Attracting diverse and multicultural business leaders from the world’s largest corporations and entrepreneurs from successful women-owned businesses, the Conference not only served as the perfect place for women to make connections, it also provided plenty of information for women to further their development. Boasting notable speakers and powerhouse panels, attendees were able to gain wisdom and insight from some of the most influential women leaders in the nation.

Take The Lead’s Co-Founder and President Gloria Feldt provided a flash talk on the Conference’s first day. With “Intentional Woman: Be BOLD and Carry OUT!” Gloria told attendees that the real secret to reaching their full leadership potential while helping all women get their fair and equal share of leadership roles starts with “I.” But it’s far from selfish. It is all about embracing the power of your own intention. Of taking those elements of female socialization that have traditionally held women back and turning them into assets, superpowers even.

Additional presentations and panels guided attendees on strategies for advancing in business, such as “Bold Moves for a Disruptive World” and “Three Rules for Winning in Corporate America”, and Leadership Coaching helped attendees do everything from navigating a project to developing their personal brand.

The Women Connect4Good Foundation was a diamond level sponsor of this year’s event, and Dr. Nancy was on hand to host the Conference’s Opening Reception and along with Dr. Sheila Robinson, Founder of Diversity Women’s Business Leadership Conference, delivered opening remarks on day two – helping attendees get supercharged for a day of powerful learning and inspiration.

Dr. Nancy recalled the first time she attended the Diversity Women Business Conference, and said it was the most amazing experience she’d ever had. It was the first time she truly understood the words inclusive and sisterhood. In order to deepen that understanding, Dr. Nancy had to look first of all at privilege, and how with privilege comes responsibility.

In her latest book, In This Together, we quote Michael Kimmel who said in a TED Talk, “Privilege is invisible to those who have it.” His point was that we have unconscious biases that prevent us from recognizing our own privilege. In fact, we are privileged if we don’t even see our race or gender when we look in the mirror.

This week’s podcast guest, Trudy Bourgeois, founder of The Center for Workforce Excellence said it best when she told Dr. Nancy, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” She said that if we are to create equality for all women, we have to name our biases and talk about them. Her recent book tells how we can transform our work environments by admitting our biases and engaging in tough, uncomfortable conversations. It’s called EQUALITY: Courageous Conversations about Women, Men, AND Race in the Workplace to Spark a Diversity and Inclusion Breakthrough.

Trudy and Dr. Nancy met a few years ago at the Diversity Women’s Business Leadership Conference, and Trudy point-blank confronted Dr. Nancy with the question, “What’s wrong with you white women?” Trudy’s question had to do with the advantages that white women have had and squandered. Now, Dr. Nancy believes what’s wrong is, “We’re afraid to step outside the lines for fear of retribution ourselves. While we have to be twice as educated and work twice as hard to get half as much as our male counterparts, we realize it is our responsibility to make sure that no woman has to work twice as hard to get half as far as her white sisters.”

Chelsea Handler has said that when it comes to privilege, it’s about taking responsibility, about having those difficult conversations and doing something actionable about it. Dr. Nancy agrees and says we all have to learn how to be better. “We can do that in part when we realize that racial and gender bias impacts every aspect of work, and that includes our own path to leadership and how we lead once we get there. We are our own worst enemies because of the biases we have towards other women, and the biases we have towards ourselves. We’ve got these measurements and comparisons, and we need to recognize them and realize, nobody is winning. We need to learn to recognize that we have biases, and we all have them.”

Dr. Nancy also pointed out the fact that it’s really all about relationships. Women build relationships. We are good at it, and we can use this strength to help ourselves and our companies succeed. Study after study shows that when women hold top positions, an organization does better. She said that in order to build relationships that work for all of us, we need to realize that our differences can be challenges, but they can also be opportunities.

“I think that when we talk about how we are different we begin to understand each other better and better and realize that we’re more alike than different. We all want the same things.” Dr. Nancy said. “We also need to remember, no more US and Them. We truly are in this together and that means ALL of us, all colors, races, and our male allies too.”

Dr. Nancy concluded her opening remarks on the topic of support. After all, when we support each other, anything is possible. “This conference is a perfect example of what happens when we support each other.”

“We need to realize that we are ALL in this together and we’ll get there faster when we work together – side by side—to make the world a better place. I think that’s why we’re here is to have better lives and to make it better for other people.”

Dr. Nancy is already making plans to attend next year’s Diversity Women’s Business Leadership Conference, October 7, 8 and 9, 2020, and urges other women to do the same. Attendees will have the chance to spend time with some major players – real leaders who understand just what it takes for organizations of all sizes to be successful as well as discover great opportunities to learn from and share with one another and create new and rewarding relationships. To learn more about Diversity Women and next year’s conference, go to DiversityWoman.com.

 

Women Running for Office Face Bias – Again

Women face biasWith so many women running for office (and winning), gender biases get lost among the tirade of political attacks. In the days following the 2018 election, more than 2,000 women were sworn into America’s state legislatures. 2,133 to be exact. Women also currently hold 25 seats in the U.S. Senate, and 101 seats in the House. And we’re just getting started. Whether eyeing the school board, mayor, state legislature, or the highest office in the land, women nationwide are planning – or running – their campaigns and lining up their support, including the five women seeking the Democratic Party’s 2020 nomination.

Despite making the decision to run, putting the issues on the front burner, and often putting their lives on the back, women are once again dealing with gender bias and facing issues surrounding likeability and voter perception on the campaign trail. And this time it’s being further amplified via social media. A new study released by The Wilson Center’s Lucina di Meco, #She Persisted: Women, Politics and Power in the New Media World, found that while male and female candidates received a similar volume of attention on social media, “the nature of the coverage, however, revealed significant differences and systematic patterns along gender lines, with female candidates receiving more attacks from right-wing and fake-news accounts than male politicians.”

The study also found that female candidates are dealing with more negative social media coverage overall than their male counterparts, with tweets more concerned about a woman’s character rather than her policy stance. “Traditional media remains mostly an obstacle for women’s political ambitions, as the coverage women in politics receive is still heavily biased against them, both in quantity and in quality, and this has a negative impact on women’s political ambitions, viability as candidates and ultimately on societal expectations of women and power.”

Women who step out to lead face  a modern twist from these attacks. . It’s a fact that all women in the public eye draw criticism and commentary, not just for their politics and policies, but also for their appearance, their parenting, their partners, their careers…the list goes on.

Take the case of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. While she pulled off an incredible political achievement – waging an effective campaign to win a seat in the House – during her campaign, critics were quick to critique her words and question whether she should have a voice in the public debate at all. Vox reported on a tweet about her by the often-quoted voice of the Washington establishment Norm Ornstein: “This is a person not ready for prime time, certainly not ready for Congress. She should stop campaigning & do a crash course on basics, including economics and foreign policy. Otherwise, she will stumble badly out of the blocks and do major damage. Early impressions hard to erase.”

Whether online or off, gender bias is alive and well in politics, and the women running (and serving) now know it and face it every day. As we gear up for another election season, we have to call out the comments that seek to undermine women, name them as biases and talk about them. To help more women step into leadership roles, we need to encourage them, counteract the public ridicule they often face, and offer them our support for their courage and willingness to work hard to solve the issues that can make the world a better place for all of us.

STRONG. The Magazine for Girls. Changing the Way Girls See Their Futures

“You have to see it to be it.” – Billie Jean King

With two girls in middle school, Sarah Beach noticed a profound lack of resources to help her daughters see what their futures would look like. While Lucy and Daisy are intelligent, energetic, and capable young women, Sarah quickly learned they had set ideas on what their futures would look like. They already thought there were some things they couldn’t really do because they are female. They had absorbed the message that society had been sending them their whole lives that women tend to behave in a certain way, do certain jobs and like certain things.

Lyn Mikel Brown, Ed.D.’89, agrees that middle school is tough, especially for girls. A professor at Colby College and author of several books on female development, Brown says there is a “kind of increased perspective-taking that happens at early adolescence, where girls start to see how others see them and the importance of performing as the right kind of girl.” That means that the confident, spunky, bossy, wonderful girls that they may have been when they were 8, 9, or 10 years old “isn’t okay, and what they thought was true is no longer true.”

In the midst of trying to figure out who they are and the ways to best fit in, girls are often inundated with different types of media that tells them how to appeal to their crush, what to wear, how to wear it, what to eat, where to go, and who to be. Instead of focusing on women and girls breaking barriers or living aspirational lives, many mediums instead are focused on fashion, celebrity news, and body image – all rich with gender stereotypes and shallow, often limiting, depictions of what girls should aspire to be.

In our interview last week, Sarah shared her story, “When we started looking around at magazines for them, we found that they focused on crushes, fashion, and trends,” Sarah said. “My girls have more substance, their friends do too. They can do and be anything. At this age, they don’t know they need role models, but they really do.”

That frustration coupled with the desire to help her daughters reach their full potential led Sarah to found STRONG. The Magazine for Girls. “They deserve to see strong female role models in all walks of life, so they can see that there are women out there who are taking their place in the world alongside men, running businesses and countries, and making the world a better place. They need to see examples of people like them, who have refused to be put in a box by society and who are following their dreams and succeeding,” Sarah wrote on STRONG’s website.

Now in her second year of publication, Sarah provides her girls with the examples they need and opening up a world of possibilities for other young girls nationwide. Her journey hasn’t always been easy, but it has been worth it.

“I had writing experience, but no magazine publishing experience. I launched a Kickstarter campaign, and got to work building an army of supporters.” Sarah said. “While I had to learn a lot right off the bat, I’ve since met some incredible people. I’ve interviewed some amazing girls with positive attitudes, and the journey has really been about talking to and meeting incredible people.”

Shortly after launch, Sarah was also diagnosed with breast cancer, but managed to carry on producing the magazine, almost single handedly, throughout her treatment. “It’s so important to me to get this magazine into the hands of girls around the country. At a time in their lives when they’re really trying to figure out who they are going to be, our girls are currently being bombarded with magazines that feature articles such as ‘What Does His Text Really Mean?’ and ’The Best Summer Swimsuit for Your Body.’ Such magazines can be fun, but they can also be incredibly damaging, and our girls are worth so much more than that. With STRONG, I want all girls to be STRONG enough to be the best version of themselves, and not who society ‘thinks’ they should be. My aim is to represent ALL girls in our pages.”

Sarah has managed to keep STRONG advertisement free, and each issue features news, book, music, and TV reviews, and often focuses on other hard-hitting issues. Each issue is also filled with great role models, ordinary girls doing extraordinary things, and other inspirational content. Regular features include:

Growing Up In – STRONG speaks to girls growing up in different countries.
STRONG Body – A focus on nutrition (healthy recipes) and exercise, and a touch on pertinent topics such as vaping with in-house pediatrician.
STRONG Mind – Issues girls face, from mental illness and depression to dealing with friendships, peer pressure, and divorce.
STRONG Career – STRONG talks to women about their careers and how they got to where they are.
STRONG Skills – A look at everything from self-defense and first aid to time management and budgeting.
Little Miss Fix It – Guidance on fixing a puncture in your bike tire, installing smoke alarms, troubleshooting Wi-Fi, tying knots for every situation, etc.

Sarah has also launched STRONG Ambassadors, a group of 11 exceptional girls to become the magazine’s brand ambassadors. The group meets (via video call) every month and works together to bring ideas to life in their communities–ideas such as drives to end period poverty and events to raise awareness of people with disabilities. STRONG Ambassadors share and replicate ideas and facilitate them as they organize these empowering events.

“I just really believe in STRONG, and want it to become a household name, in every library across the country so every girl can access it,” Sarah said. “My aim is to inspire and empower teens and tweens and help them build a healthy, connected life. We want to help the whole girl. It’s not just a magazine, we want to help these girls grow up confident and be whatever they want to be.”

To learn more about STRONG. The Magazine for Girls. go to www.strongmagazineforgirls.com.

 

Goddess in Action, a Women Empowerment Gathering

Dr. Nancy will join her daughter Ragan Thomson on November 16, 2019 for Goddess in Action, part of The Awakening of the Goddess Seriesa women empowerment gathering.  The two will host an evening for women from all walks of life, share their stories of healing and experience, and honor each other from opposite sides of the business world. Dr. Nancy and Ragan, a healer, spiritual coach, and divine facilitator, will also help attendees find their internal value to create success.

Attendees will connect with other working women and receive encouragement and support to bring their inner Goddess into action and enhance their business lives. The event will allow women to learn to lead their business from their feminine energy, while surrounding themselves with other women who are seeking a meaningful and supportive connection.  More than a networking event, this is an opportunity for women to come together to create a lasting and impactful forward movement within themselves, their businesses, and their community.

Benefits you’ll receive from Goddess in Action

  • Unlock balance, joy, and fulfillment in your business and life.
  • Share your experience and struggles and get support from your sisters.
  • Receive coaching from Ragan.
  • Unlock your net worth, your internal value.
  • Remove any obstacles on your way and say “yes!” to making money the way you want.
  • Enjoy a boutique held by local businesswomen.

Through her podcasts, workshops, and coaching sessions, Ragan helps people resolve their wounds, access their inner joy, keep their hearts open, and stay true to themselves. Always one soul at a time. Check out her website, www.raganthomson.com to learn more about her work, or click here to learn more about November’s event.

 

$1 Billion to Expand Women’s Power and Influence to Reach Gender Equality

Women helping womenLast week Melinda Gates took a giant step forward in her work to accelerate gender equality in the U.S. and pledged $1 billion to expand women’s power and influence over the next decade. “Equality can’t wait, and no one in a position to act should either,” Gates wrote in an op-ed for Time magazine, while announcing her commitment to help women claim their power.

She will do the work through Pivotal Ventures, an investment and incubation company working to drive social progress for women and families that she founded in 2015. “This announcement is not a departure for Melinda—it’s the latest chapter in her long-standing commitment to gender equality,” a spokesperson at Pivotal Ventures told Penta.

Gates, like many of us, feels like the time to act is now. A window of opportunity has opened, or as she writes, “More accurately, it was painstakingly pried open by the hundreds of thousands of people who have joined marches across the country, the millions of women who summoned the courage to tell their #MeToo stories, the record number of women who ran for office in 2018 and won.”

History shows that we are all in a position to act. As we wrote in In This Together, “for more than 200 years, women have organized, fought, campaigned, sacrificed, and supported each other to gain the rights to inherit property, to keep their children, get an education, pursue a career, vote, hold office, and the list goes on. Although they often received no credit, women whose intersecting identities left them marginalized with less privilege have nonetheless continued to lead the movements for women’s equality. It’s time to follow their lead. It’s time to exercise all those hard-won rights to achieve true equality now.”

As Gates recently wrote in Harvard Business Review, “The unprecedented energy and attention around gender equality makes this a moment when extraordinary progress is possible — and bold, ambitious goals are appropriate. We shortchange women if we set our sights too low.”

On post-inauguration Saturday in 2017, 4.6 million women and their male allies took to the streets in 642 cities on every continent on the globe and demonstrated for women’s rights. Hundreds of thousands of women continue to march and make their voices heard. Women are speaking out against their abusers and changing the dynamics of the workplace. And record numbers of women are running for – and winning – elected offices at every level.

We are making progress, albeit slowly at times. It’s important to keep in mind that every  act to support another woman counts, and together we can accelerate the pace.  Gates advises, “In order to seize this opportunity, we have to define our goals thoughtfully.”

Her goal is, “to expand women’spower and influence in society.” She added that she thinks of power and influence “as the ability to make decisions, control resources, and shape perspectives. It is something women exercise in their homes, in their workplaces, and in their communities.” Recognizing that “power and influence” are not words historically associated with women, nor that most women associate with themselves, overcoming gender bias to claim this power and influence is a step we must all make to create change now.

While we need philanthropists, like Melinda Gates, venture capitalists, businesses, and policy makers willing to invest in gender-focused intervention, we also need women on the ground working every day to lift one another up. We can all set our personal goal to accelerate gender equality within our own center of power and influence.

We each need to stand by the woman sharing her story, to support the woman running for office, help our neighbor who is struggling, and mentor the new woman in the workplace. As Gates says, it isn’t just grand gestures that got us to this point, it was daily acts of courage, too. And it still is. We all win when we lift others up as we go.

So ask yourself — how can you make your voice be heard? What thoughtful goal can you set to help women get their fair and equal share? How can you be courageous today and use your personal power and influence to support another woman?

Tiffany Shlain on the Power of Unplugging

Do you consume your media or does your media consume you? Women (men, boys and girls), it’s time to claim your power, and internet pioneer and renowned filmmaker Tiffany Shlain has plenty to say about the power of stepping away from the screens and unplugging. On September 24, Simon & Schuster’s Gallery Books will release her first book, 24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week. Tiffany takes readers on a provocative and entertaining journey through time and technology, introducing a strategy for living in our 24/7 world, starting with turning off all screens for twenty-four hours each week. This practice, which she’s done for nearly a decade with her husband and kids (ages 16 and 10), has completely changed their lives, giving them more time, productivity, connection, and presence. She and her family call it “Technology Shabbat.”

The book interweaves the story of Tiffany’s family with a deep dive into the neuroscience, philosophy, psychology, history, and benefits of both having technology and having a day of rest — turning the screens off, one day every week (living 24/6). Tiffany also looks at the bigger picture of the past, present, and future of technology and humanity, from her hopes for the Web in its early days and creating the Webby Awards, to where we are now and what we need to change, as individuals, and as a society. In addition, she provides a blueprint for readers to bring the practice of unplugging into their own lives (and get their partner, children, friends, and boss on board, too) and shares how what you give up is far less than what you get back: connection, focus, productivity, creativity, reflection, happiness and balance.

If you think this doesn’t apply to you, check out these statistics. According to Nielsen, adults spend over 11 hours per day interacting with media. That’s up from 9 hours and 32 minutes just four years ago. Of that 11 hours, 4 hours and 46 minutes are spent watching TV every day. Another study by Common Sense Media reports that teens spend an average of 9 hours per day interacting with media, and that doesn’t count the time for school or doing homework. Younger kids are also clocking some serious hours and kids ages 8-12 spend 6 hours per day interacting with media. Kids ages 2-5 are also spending almost a full workweek (32 hours per week) watching TV, videos, and gaming.

“We are living in the results of everyone being distracted, available 24/7, and the problems this has created for our society, our children, our communities, our democracy, and ourselves are only growing,” Tiffany writes. “24/6 is not a detox. It’s a way of co-existing in a more healthy way with technology, and it draws upon centuries of wisdom — specifically the ancient Jewish wisdom of Shabbat — backed by the latest research, made accessible to everyone, as a way forward.”

50/50: Rethinking the Past, Present & Future of Women + Power filmmaker

Tiffany Shlain

Immediately following the book’s September 24 release, Tiffany will be exploring ideas about the relationship between technology, screen use, and character as the theme of her film studio, Let It Ripple’s sixth annual Character Day, an event that unites millions of people in schools, companies, and homes to develop and deepen their character: strengths like empathy, grit, gratitude, self-control, social responsibility, and leadership. Character Day is a major focus for Let It Ripple because character development leads not only to school and career success, but also to stronger, more engaged individuals and a more just world. Last year, over 4 million people across 200,000 groups in 125 countries and all 50 states participated in Character Day.

24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day A Week is available for pre-sale now. To learn more about the book, or Tiffany’s upcoming book tour speaking and events, go to https://www.24sixlife.com/.

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Honored by Newsweek as one of the “Women Shaping the 21st Century,” Tiffany is an Emmy-nominated filmmaker, and founder of The Webby Awards. Tiffany’s films and work have received over eighty awards and distinctions including being selected for the Albert Einstein Foundation’s Genius: 100 Visions of the Future. NPR named her UC Berkeley address as one of its best commencement speeches and her films have premiered at top festivals including Sundance. She lectures worldwide on the relationship between technology and humanity.

The Business of Making Movies: Including Women’s Voices

Guest Post by Barclay DeVeau

Barclay DeVeauLike a lot of business, when a woman is in the lead, movies make more money, whether that lead position is on screen or off. As a director, I depend on my investors to get my movies made. Yet recently, investors I’ve made several films for over the course of the past two decades announced that they would not invest in my next movie, Opal. In spite of having shown these investors an extremely generous return on investment over the years, they refused to even read the script for this project because the lead characters are women.

I wasn’t shocked – I am well aware of the rampant gender bias in the movie business. But I am also not deterred by these investors’ lack of interest in telling a story from a female perspective. Instead, their bias has served to further ignite my passion and has propelled me forward with an even greater determination to get this movie made.

A Southern Gothic Thriller, Opal is filled with long buried mysteries, deep-rooted traditions, ominous plot twists and shocking secrets, but, at its core, Opal is a story of strength, empowerment and the hope one badass  woman leaves to the world.

Set against the backdrop of a contentious mayoral election in picturesque Hartswell, Georgia, Opal is centered around the relationship between an abused young woman and a reclusive matriarch, who will stop at nothing to expose the sins of the town.

When Luna, a headstrong woman in her 50’s, is introduced to the young woman, Purdee, she immediately senses the girl is in jeopardy. Against the advice of her friends, Luna begins investigating. She inserts herself into the young woman’s life – following her, attempting to befriend her, and, ultimately, breaking into her house where she witnesses Purdee’s brutal rape by her own husband, Ray, the son of one of the leading mayoral candidates.

As the rest of the town focuses on the impending election, Luna fixes her attention on freeing Purdee from her life of abuse, whatever it takes.

Luna’s determination is much like my own. I will get Opal made, whatever it takes. Luna’s story deserves to be told and movies featuring strong females must become the norm, rather than the exception.

Movies can be magical. They have the power to transport us into wondrous worlds, take us along on fantastic adventures, move us to tears, laughter and reflection. They serve as communal and cathartic experiences that remind us we are never alone, and, most importantly, movies have the power to inspire our creativity, open our minds, fill us with hope and make us believe that anything is possible.

Child Actor to Director

When I grew up acting, the world of filmmaking enchanted me and enveloped me in its magic. I was most alive on set, soaking in everything around me like a ravenous sponge – the shimmering lights, dazzling costumes, the sweet taste of strawberry lip balm swiped from the make-up artist’s bag of goodies, the smell of freshly sawed wood on set combined with wafts of coffee from the craft services table, the warmth of freshly printed script pages…All of it cast a spell on me.

For much of my childhood I had a wondrous experience as a young actor, working frequently on stage, television and films. I was very blessed to have steadfast support and guidance from my mom, my grandma and from the various directors I worked with.

OPALAcademy Award Level Mentorship

Alan J. Pakula (Klute, All the Presidents Men, Sophie’s Choice) was particularly wonderful with me when he noticed me looking at the director’s monitor one day when I was about twelve. When Alan asked if I was interested in directing, I enthusiastically answered “yes”, sharing that I had already directed several films starring my younger siblings and the kids in my neighborhood – all shot with our family’s VHS camera, a beast that was only a few pounds lighter than I was at the time.

If Alan was amused by my precocious response, he didn’t show it. Instead, he embraced the role of mentor and promptly stood me on an apple box to show me the difference between 35mm, 50mm and 75mm lenses. He explained why he and the production designer had chosen a particular color pallet for the walls and asked me what I thought. He discussed the writing process, the way he worked with the director of photography and the thrill of the scoring stage. He took me along to the wardrobe room to “help” him decide on costumes. He was a wonderful, generous man and he enhanced the magic of movie making for me.

After working with Alan, my neighborhood movies became much more elaborate as I meticulously determined every detail of the costumes, production design and music. By the time I began high school, I had made scores of these films and knew with absolute certainty that I would be a professional director when I grew up.

Gender Imbalance Began in College

A few years later, at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts, I was one of only a handful of women in my graduating production class of approximately thirty students. Despite the gender imbalance in my program, I never considered that I would be shut out from pursuing a directing career. I wasn’t cocky, but I was confident. This was what was I born to do, I’d known it since I was seven, and I had never once questioned whether I would be allowed to do it.

I was extremely naïve back then, unaware of the gross underrepresentation of women’s voices in film. In the years since college, many of my male classmates from USC have gone on to directing careers. None of the women in my class has directed a feature film. Not one.

These days I am acutely aware of the non-magical side of filmmaking. Men run most of the studios and agencies in Hollywood, they comprise a majority of the film critics, and it is their viewpoint that largely determines which films get greenlit. In spite of the success of a handful of incredible female filmmakers like Kathryn Bigelow, Sofia Coppola, Ava DuVernay and Patty Jenkins, 93% of the top 100 films in 2018 were directed by men.

Pre-Depression Women Ruled Hollywood

This revolting gender imbalance wasn’t always the case in the movie business. In the early days of Hollywood (1900-1920’s), women ran several of the independent studios and made up a large percentage of writers and directors. When talkies entered the scene in the late 20’s and films like The Jazz Singer became huge box office successes, a handful of studios (all run by men) began rising to the top. The onset of the Great Depression a few years after talkies hit the scene rendered it nearly impossible for the smaller indie studios (many run by women) to stay afloat. Alicia Malone states in her wonderful book, Backwards & In Heels, at this time “filmmaking started to be looked at as a business instead of a creative enterprise, and corporate structures were implemented, complete with executives in charge. Women were not perceived as being business-minded or executive material, so positions of power on a movie set, such as directing, now were given to men. From the 1930’s onward, Hollywood became a boy’s club. And women have been trying to make their way back into the industry for almost 100 years.”

Shamefully, not much has changed in the film business since the late 1920’s/early 1930’s when this marginalization began. Oh sure, our visual effects are lightyears better, our cameras and technology have advanced by leaps and bounds, but in terms of gender parity, women are still not considered to be leaders. Or, more often, not considered at all.

Lack of Gender Parity Actually Bad for Movie Business

According to the Geena Davis institute on Gender in Media, in 2018 only 7% of directors, 13% of writers and 20% of producers were female. On screen, female leads comprised only 17% of major films produced in 2014 and 2015. Yet, according to a recent study released by CAA in conjunction with Shift 7, female-led films consistently outperform male-led films at the box office across all genres and budget categories. In 2015, films led by women grossed 15.8% more than films led by men, and in 2017, all three of the top-grossing films at the box office were led by women.

It is a myth that films starring men perform better than female-led films and it’s time to capitalize on the truth – women on screen mean a higher return on investment. The marginalization of women on and off the screen in the film industry is, quite literally, bad business. This toxic myth is a fallacy rooted in longstanding gender bias.

Whether this gender bias is conscious or unconscious matters little. What matters is that we fix it. So what do we do? What can we do?

Let’s start with what we shouldn’t do – we shouldn’t sit around lamenting the dire situation. We must take action, because action is what is needed to move the needle. Action from people – women and men – who recognize that the gender imbalance in filmmaking is a disservice, not just to the women being excluded and the young girls who aren’t seeing themselves represented, but to the entire world that is missing out on the voices and creative visions of half the population. We must work together to bring more female-led films to screen. For my part, I will continue moving forward with Opal, a film with an incredibly powerful female lead, which will be directed by me, a woman with a lifetime of directing experience.

Opal Overview—Women Finding Their Voices

Opal is a film about transition, transformation and one woman’s power to change the world. Luna has reached her breaking point. By standing up to the systemic misogyny and unpunished atrocities that have permeated the culture of Hartswell for decades, Luna gives hope to future generations of women in this fictitious town – and the town becomes a symbolic representation of the country as a whole as it struggles with its long history of silencing women, perpetuating racism and burying ugly secrets. Luna’s story and the story of Hartswell are parallel tales, intertwined and complementary. Just as the town experiences dramatic changes – with new industry picking up, Confederate statues coming down, and the first female candidate running for mayor – Luna experiences her own transformation, breaking years of silence and, ultimately, making a decision that will change the course of the future.

Examining issues of domestic abuse, abuse of power, heinous crimes and complicit cover-ups, Opal lives in the nebulous territory between the law and justice, good and evil, the past, present and future. The time for Opal is now. Like countless women in cities and towns across the country, Luna has finally found her voice. She joins the chorus of women banding together, speaking up, fighting for and with each other to put an end to contemptible injustices.

What Opal Needs

Opal has a total capitalization of $5 million. We are currently accepting investors beginning at the $10,000 level. If you are interested in investing in Opal, if you believe the undeniable statistics which consistently show female-led films lead to a higher ROI, and if you are interested in being a part of ending the contemptible injustices women have experienced on and off the screen for nearly a century in the movie business, please reach out to request a comprehensive creative deck and an investment opportunity packet at barclay@opalmovie.com.

When we actively work together to allow women’s stories to be told on the big screen, we can literally double the magic in the movie business. Because in movies and in the business of making them, if we finally give women the opportunity to share their voices and visions, anything really is possible.

*To contact Barclay for a comprehensive creative and investment packet for the film, Opal, email barclay@opalmovie.com.

*To learn more about the past, present and future of women working in film, read Alicia Malone’s book, Backwards & In Heels and see the brilliant documentary This Changes Everything. To research more statistics on the current state of female representation on an off the screen in media, visit the website for the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media: https://seejane.org

 

Closing the Gender Pay Gap – Black Women’s Equal Pay Day

Nothing says we need to close the gender pay gap more than noting Black Women’s Equal Pay Day. It’s August 22. That’s the day that black women “catch up” to what a white, non-Hispanic man made last year. That is 8 months and 22 days of extra work. It’s hard to take companies seriously when they say they realize they need to change and claim they have a high commitment to gender diversity. Women know for a fact, that it hasn’t budged in decades, not for white women either, who celebrated their equal pay day April 2. But compound this unfair imbalance for women of color with the fact that 80% of black women are the primary or sole provider of their family and it becomes an economic shortfall that affects entire communities.

Felicia Davis, Founder of the Black Women’s Collective, set about to right this obvious wrong when she turned her focus to Black Women’s Equal Pay Day last year, and held an evening mixer, “Strategize Your Way to Equal Pay” to help Phoenix area women close the gap and move into leadership positions. The mixer was such a success, that she immediately began working to make it an annual event.

“It was amazing, but we needed more time,” Felicia said. “This year we’ve got a full day of speakers, Power Talks, a Power Panel, Power Table Connections, and Power Connections.”

The 2019 “Strategize Your Way to Equal Pay” Symposium is a one-day empowerment experience for corporate and entrepreneurialblack women leaders, uniquely designed to help them amplify their vision, voice and visibility, and get paid what they’re worth. The day promises to disrupt any patterns of mediocre thinking, and attendees will be guided to breakthrough results in the areas of communication, negotiation, relationships, branding and wealth creation.

With more than a dozen recognized experts set to present, Davis says that this year’s symposium is limited to 50 attendees, so it remains small and intimate, and attendees can make high-quality connections to get the most benefits from the event.

“It’s our #BlackGirlMagic that has us be known as the most educated and most ambitious women with the strongest work ethic,” Felicia said. “While that’s great, it also becomes our blind-spot because workingincredibly hard is not enough to catalyze our leadership in a way that gets us recognized, respected and paid well.”

Felicia brings her expertise to the event and is slated to be one of the Symposium’s speakers. As an award-winning and certified leadership and personal branding strategist, author and advisor to women leaders, she also brings 20+ years of experience as a former HR executive, hard work ethic, and research to the event. Named as a “Woman of Excellence” by the National Council of Negro Women, Felicia has personally worked with hundreds of women using her proprietary branding process to help them develop compelling communication and leadership skills that position them to be recognized, remembered and recommended for high visibility projects.

Felicia says that the Symposium is, “Equal parts Heart and Strategy because you need both to thrive and succeed as a results-driven, Black Female Leader who also gets paid well.”

As part of our mission to facilitate networking among smart, amazing women devoted to changing the world, Women Connect4Good is excited to sponsor this event, and help Felicia elevate black women leaders throughout the Phoenix area. To learn more, go to www.BlackWomensCollective.com/Elevate and find out how you can help close the gender pay gap.

Women Connect to Share Powerful Message of Equality for All

Amazing things happen when women support women and connect with one another. The conversations lead to ideas, and the ideas lead to action. As we wrote in the book, In This Together, working together with other women (and our male allies) is the best way for women to claim their power and have loads of fun in the process. By supporting each other we can make our voices heard and claim equality for all – together.

Last week was exciting for the Women Connect4Good team, and for many of our friends and supported organizations. Information Matrix TV, which is known for mining the imaginative and exciting ideas that exist in the minds of participating organizations, flew to California to share Dr. Nancy’s story, her work for women’s empowerment and the development and support of women-helping-women networks that raise the status women globally. Gloria Feldt of Take The Lead was on hand, as were representatives of Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara, the National Association of Women Business Owners, Association for Women in Communications and a number of colleagues and friends.

Information Matrix is an award-winning program that features new stories and innovative concepts through groundbreaking short-form and long-form documentary presentations. The series, filmed for the Pubic Television audience, is anchored by a veteran production team with decades of industry experience that enable them to effectively communicate important stories to a wide and diverse audience. Hosted by Laurence Fishburne, Information Matrix is a widely-acclaimed program that will help us spread the word and broadcast the importance of the work we’re doing for gender equality.

Shot in multiple locations, the filming brought together numerous friends and allies from many backgrounds and walks of life to highlight the work we’re all doing to make the world a better place for women and girls. Great connections were made, laughs were shared, and we all were reminded that there’s strength in numbers, and by working together, we will achieve equality for all.

 

ORDER YOUR COPY OF DR. NANCY’S NEW BOOK TODAY!

How women succeed when they work together is one of the main themes covered in Dr. Nancy’s new book, In This Together: How Successful Women Support Each Other In Work and Life, along with thoughts, inspiration, and stories from 40 successful women.

Order your copy – and gifts for your friends today! After you’ve read it, please, leave us a 5-star review on Amazon. Your review will help us reach more women with proven techniques for achieving gender equality by working with other women and our male allies.

How You Can Close the Wage Gap—Start With Your Own

How You Can Close the Wage Gap—Start With Your OwnIf you’re one of the women earning only 85% of your male peers (or less), now is your chance to close that wage gap and get a package to help you make that top-level deal and get your career moving in the right direction. Right now, through Take The Lead’s 5-Year Anniversary Silent Auction, you can bid on two complete career, promotion and pay-raise strategic plans, with custom data and consulting, from She Negotiates and 81Cents.com. Take The Lead is celebrating the anniversary of its amazing launch five years ago and ongoing drive to help women reach complete parity in all sectors by 2025 through this silent auction and big event in NYC on July 25. Don’t wait—bid now for this $2,500 value—learn how to claim your power and get your voice heard to transform your career.

Operating under the philosophy that there is nothing wrong with women and nothing to fix, She Negotiates helps women create a step-by-step roadmap for the next right move in their career or business. They arm clients with a solid negotiation strategy, word-for-word scripts, and role-playing experiences to help them implement their plan to break through barriers and create that big break to close the wage gap one woman at a time. The results speak for themselves; women are getting the promotions and compensation packages they deserve.

She Negotiates co-founder Victoria Pynchon points out that women want to negotiate, but don’t necessarily know how. “Unless you’ve applied the rules to something, you’re not going to be good at it. It’s a skill.” Like any skill, successful negotiation requires learning the basics, and practice, practice, and more practice to get really good at applying communication strategies that work in the corporate world.

Working primarily with women seeking top-level deals and compensation packages, Victoria brings her clients a quarter century of legal practice followed by a decade of mediation, arbitration and negotiation experiences to every engagement. As a former commercial litigator and trial attorney, Victoria not only knows the art of persuasion but also the fears, hopes and challenges faced by corporate CEOs, small business owners and fellow professionals.

“I occupied corporate America for 25 years,” Victoria said. “So much of this is understanding corporate culture and knowing what doesn’t work. When you get to be my age you know. You’ve made all the mistakes.”

If you missed the silent auction, you might want to take advantage of Victoria’s “50 Buck Half Hour” that she offers to potential clients, this mini-session can help you begin work immediately with actionable advice and a rough strategy outline and explore further consulting options. She also offers a one-hour mentoring session exclusively to women who are under thirty and making less than $100K per year.

“There’s just so much to fix,” Victoria said. “But this cohort of women are just amazing, and they’re all caught in the wage gap. They need to understand the water they’re swimming in, and I can help them do that.”

Victoria recommends that her clients know their market value first, and then work from there. 81Cents.com – supported by an Advisory Committee of Berkeley and Harvard negotiations professors – is a go-to, and helps women determine whether or not they’re being paid fairly. With compensation reports built especially for members, 81Cents.com provides women with personalized feedback on their pay from professionals in their field as well as hiring managers and recruiters.

As Victoria writes, the devil’s in the details, and between the work she’s doing through She Negotiates and 81Cents.com, women at every level are getting those details, being armed with the skills, and amassing the knowledge they need to close the wage gap.

“These women know they’re caught in the wage gap, and work for major corporations who know it too,” Victoria concluded. “I believe they want to close it, one person at a time.”

Take The LeadBID NOW! There’s not much time left. Take The Lead’s 5-Year Anniversary Silent Auction is almost here. Besides the complete career, promotion and pay-raise strategic plans, with custom data and consulting, from She Negotiates and 81Cents.com, valued at $2500 each, you can bid on many other exciting prizes, including lunch with Oscar-nominee Kathleen Turner and Take the Lead co-founder Gloria Feldt. Plus, there will be a special live auction at the Summer Gathering in New York on July 25, which will be held at the Alley Co-Working Space (119 West 24th Street). The event will also include the launch of a new podcast series hosted by Feldt and SheMedia’s Vice President of Video Programming Reshma Gopaldas, and a performance by actress/singer Ari Afsar (Hamilton-Chicago). Tickets are available at http://bit.ly/2FNSaFw.

Don’t miss out. It’s an exciting time for women to claim their power and support women. This opportunity provides both. Remember, the woman you should support first is yourself. Close the wage gap for women by starting with own. Make your voice heard with a proven strategy from She Negotiates to finally close your wage gap and redirect your career.

Order Your Copy of Dr. Nancy’s New Book Today!

Navigating negotiations and closing the pay gap are just a couple of the issues covered in Dr. Nancy’s new book, In This Together: How Successful Women Support Each Other In Work and Life, along with thoughts, inspiration, and stories from 40 successful women.

Order your copy – and gifts for your friends today! After you’ve read it, please, leave us a 5-star review on Amazon. Your review will help us reach more women with proven techniques for achieving gender equality by working with other women and our male allies.

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