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Is Overwork Creating the Gender Pay Gap?

Today in the United States, the gender lens is focusing on new reasons for the continued gender pay gap, especially as women in the workplace continue to face the biggest gaps in leadership and pay, while being more educated than ever before. As we report in the new book, In This Together, the US gender wage gap is below 20 percent for women overall, although that doesn’t apply equally to women of color. In general, Latina women still have the biggest wage gap compared to white men (nearly 38 percent), then African-American women (32 percent), then white women (18 percent), and Asian women have the smallest gap (7 percent). Although companies say they realize they need to change and claim that their commitment to gender diversity is high, the gender wage gap and number of women in leadership has barely budged in decades.

While we could look at the varied causes of the gap and examine things like gender bias or a lack of family-friendly policies, two articles recently came out that point to something else entirely.

The New York Times reported on mounting evidence that has led economists and sociologists to look at the wage gap in a way that has nothing to do with gender and identify a major driver – the return to working long, inflexible hours. “The return to seemingly endless work weeks has increased dramatically and is a side effect of the nation’s embrace of a winner-take-all economy. This is especially true in what social scientists call ’greedy professions’ like managerial work, law, finance and consulting. The impact of this shift is so powerful, it has canceled the effect of women’s educational gains.”

It is important to note that there is no gender gap in the financial rewards for working long hours, and for the most part, women who work an extreme schedule get paid as much as men do. But far fewer women do it, particularly mothers. Youngjoo Cha at Indiana University, Kim Weeden at Cornel find that twenty percent of fathers now work at least 50 hours a week, whereas just six percent of mothers do.

The Atlantic also looked at overwork and further reported on the recently published research by Youngjoo Cha, who finds that the pressure to work more than 50 hours a week pushes working mothers out of what we think of as male-dominated professions. Using the Census’ longitudinal Survey of Income and Program Participation, Cha found a significant correlation between male-dominated professions and their tendency to have average working hours of more than 50 hours a week.

Cha blames gender biases about work that haven’t evolved much in the last few decades. “When people are really expected to dive into the workplace and have a complete devotion to work, that was probably possible because there was someone else who can do other things for that person,” Cha says. “This overwork norm is basically built upon those assumptions.”

A recent report published by the Center for American Progress says that, “Even the most fortunate—the better-educated and better-off professionals who tend to have access to paid leave, flexibility, sick days, and decent child care—find balancing the necessary demands of work and home an increasingly fraught and anxious-making endeavor in our era of “extreme jobs” and 24/7 availability.”

The report also finds that nearly three-quarters of Americans now say that they, their neighbors, and their friends experience hardship in balancing work, family, and professional responsibilities at least somewhat often, and nearly 40 percent say that they experience such conflict “all the time” or “very often.”

This tendency towards overwork, and the status that comes with it indicates that the gap is not just about women opting out to take care of family responsibilities, this is also about a fundamental shift in the nature of work. However, simply recognizing the problem is not enough, researchers say that workers have to demand change. As it sits right now, companies are reaping the rewards of having always-on workers and won’t make the needed changes just to be kind. They have to run the risk of losing top talent if they don’t – and that includes men.

When women are the only ones who switch to jobs with predictable hours or take advantage of flexibility, it hurts their careers. We need to change the status quo and work for policies that work for women and families, not against them. Millennial men aren’t buying in to this “always-on” approach and researchers find that they want more equal partnerships, and more involvement in family life. We need to engage them, and their older counterparts, to come together and work with us for gender-neutral policies that benefit everyone equally. We can change this overwork trend and close the gap if we address the problem together.

 

Order Dr. Nancy’s New Book Today!

Cultivating men as allies and working with them to achieve equality are just some of the topics 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!

The #MeToo Movement Continues to Have an Impact

In the fall of 2017, actress Alyssa Milano responded to published sexual harassment and assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein with a Twitter hashtag that simply said, “#MeToo.” The hashtag quickly went viral and the next day, 609,000 posts followed suit according to Meltwater, which tracks social media impact. What started out as a Tweet quickly became a movement and within a year prominent people across a number of industries were publicly accused of sexual misconduct. The movement exposed a laundry list of accusations against men in powerful positions in media, Hollywood, tech and more. Before long women in every industry and from every country began calling out their assailants, saying, “Enough.” Women no longer felt isolated, and it became clear that these high-profile stories were just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, behind the headlines, hundreds of women and men — in industries across the board – filed their own harassment complaints, called hotlines, and came forward with their stories.

The impact of #MeToo has been undeniable and has not only led to the downfall of powerful people, but also an incredible impact on the workplace. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission saw about 7,500 harassment complaints filed from October 2017 to September 2018, a 12 percent increase compared to the previous year.

The fight against harassment got a boost from #TimesUp and the National Women’s Law Center. The two groups launched a legal defense fund to provide low-income women with attorney consultations and help with legal fees. According to Emily Martin, a vice president of the National Women’s Law Center, the fund has raised $22 million in donations and assisted 3,500 women and men from all 50 states.

#MeToo Started Long Before the Tweet

Tarana Burke began using #MeToo 11 years before Milano took to Twitter as a way to empower survivors of sexual assault, and the two women actually ended up working together to turn #MeToo into a global phenomenon. Now, Burke has officially established the Me Too Movement as an organization that will  continue to have an impact, whether the hashtag is trending or not.

According to an interview with Business Insider, Burke’s biggest goal this year is “fighting for narrative shift,” which she feels needs to take place with the conversations around abuse and harassment. “We’re still talking about individuals that had acted, and we’re still talking about who can come back to work or not and that kind of stuff, as opposed to talking about all the people who said, ‘Me too.’ What do they need? What are they doing right now? How is their life being affected?”

To answer these questions, Burke says she would like to see more open dialogue in workplaces, which may be easier considering the conversations that were started by the movement. It may also be easier given the number of women who have replaced the men who were forced out. Case in point, by October 2018, 201 powerful men were brought down by #MeToo, and nearly half of their replacements were women.

This dialogue is important. As we wrote in the new book, In This Together, if we are to end sexual harassment and violence, we need to understand what it is, what it is not, and how to combat it. Although most men do not rape or harass women, neither do most men feel a responsibility to stop others from doing so.

That means we need to teach men how to treat women. It is time for women to insist that men share the responsibility when it comes to stopping other men from committing assault and abuse. This is not a women’s problem. It’s a human problem, and that means that all of us need to work together for cultural change.

Sexual Harassment is Still a Real Problem

Burke wants “Me Too” not to be a divisive issue, but a common-sense one — that supports survivors of violence and creates inclusive workplaces. However, a May 2018 poll by Morning Consult shows there is a wide partisan gap in support for the #MeToo movement. By October 2018, that gap had grown.

Meredith Conroy writes that since 2016, Republicans have grown more skeptical of women who report harassment and the motivation behind their claims. However, members of both parties were more likely to acknowledge that sexual harassment of women in the workplace is a problem in the U.S. One explanation for the gap could be that attitudes about gender equality are increasingly correlated with partisan identity.

We need to focus on the fact that sexual harassment is a problem, and collaborate on finding ways to change the status quo. Partisan politics aside – this is an issue that deserves our undivided attention, and we need to work together to correct the system that pits us against each other.

When in Doubt, Speak Out

Oftentimes, women are not sure if what is happening to them actually constitutes harassment. If you are unsure, review the definition of workplace sexual harassment and ask someone you trust outside of your organization. If you or someone you know is subject to harassment, insist that other women listen and offer to help make it stop. We can only eliminate this problem if we all work together.  Let’s transform the #Metoo movement into a positive force that magnifies our respect, consideration, and kind regard for one another–all genders, races, nationalities and religions. Together, we can heal our divisions and make an impact that moves our civilization another giant step forward toward the kind of life we all want to live.

 

Order Dr. Nancy’s New Book Today!

Sexual harassment and gender equality are just a couple of the topics 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!

 

Eliminating Sexism with the Help of Our Male Allies

It’s a fact that many men want to support women at work, stamp out sexism and help women advance. However, they may not be aware that the way they go about it may do more harm than good. David M. Mayer writes in Harvard Business Review that a well-meaning man, even one who defends a woman’s ideas or work, can unintentionally undermine her. Whether these men realize it or not, their behavior isn’t helpful, but instead is a form of benevolent sexism.

Psychologists Peter Glick and Susan Fisk define benevolent sexism as a chivalrous attitude that suggests women are weak and need men’s protection. While that may not seem like a bad thing on the surface, Glick and Fisk find, “This kind of paternalism suggest that women need to be taken care of by men, and men who endorse this form of benevolent sexism are more likely to accept the mistreatment and harassment of women at work.”

Comments that describe women as more compassionate, nurturing, neater, or kinder than men are stereotypical, and can be misconstrued. Mayer points out, “Research demonstrates that such ‘compliments’ create a double bind for women: If women are viewed as nice, they are far less likely to be deemed competent.”

Research has found benevolent sexism reduces the chances of getting candid feedback or a shot at the challenging or hot assignments. Instead women get unwanted assistance and confidence-eroding offers. This ties directly into the unintended harmful effects of benevolent sexism that we write about in the new book, In This Together. “Directing women into public relations because they are great communicators puts them at a corporate dead end. Women who are gracious and welcoming get saddled with organizing all the office events. Women who are intuitive and connect well with others are expected to manage the office’s emotional housework, including relational aggression among other women. Finally, men who refuse to travel for business with women prevent them from advancing higher in sales or management.”

A poll by Pew Research Center suggests that more than half of men think sexism is a thing of the past. When looking at issues like benevolent sexism, it’s easy to see why only about one-third of women agree. Yes, sexism is still a problem, and until we shine a light on the issue and communicate it to our peers, it will continue to hold women back.

Recruiting Men as Allies

Men: Ask the women at work to tell you about their experiences and listen to them when they talk. Don’t try to interpret their experience for them or tell them “what they ought to do.”

Women: Don’t assume that anyone, especially men, will understand what it’s like to walk in your shoes unless you teach them what it’s like to be a woman in your workplace. We need to recruit men to the cause of equality and talk about the issues. We are truly “in this together,” and it’s a mistake to limit our support networks exclusively to women. Gender equality is a big umbrella that includes and benefits men too.

Who are the men in your workplace who meet the criteria for allies? Look for a man who:

  • Can turn his good intentions into lasting change if women will tell him truthfully and openly the ways gender inequality has affected them
  • Shows through his words and actions that he is committed to gender equality
  • Is willing to have the difficult conversations on your behalf when you’re not in the room
  • Offers to mentor and sponsor women to create opportunities for female leadership within your company

Once you identify such a man, ask for his help and expect and believe that he will help you. Communicate with your ally about your needs and goals. Discuss biases, assumptions, and oppressive patterns of behavior that you observe at work. Think together strategically about how to address any issues that inhibit your ability to do your work, achieve your goals, and thrive in your relationships with your coworkers. Ultimately, opening communication about these issues enables women and their allies to develop positive working relationships based on shared values. Communication will also create opportunities for collaboration among peers. From the outset women and their allies can agree to work together, share in the rewards of success, and give credit where credit is due.

Problems like benevolent sexism didn’t arrive overnight, and they won’t disappear right away either. However, if we work together, women and men, to identify and eradicate the problem, we truly can gain full equality in work and life.

 

Order Dr. Nancy’s new book today!

Dealing with sexism and cultivating men as allies 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!

Helping Women Move Out of the Shadows and Get the Credit They Deserve

Women have been left in the shadows and not given the credit they deserve. Last month, NASA made a course correction and officially renamed a facility in West Virginia after Katherine Johnson. You may remember Katherine, an African-American mathematician and centenarian whose career was depicted in the film “Hidden Figures.” This was not the first public acknowledgement of her work. In 2015, President Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Johnson and other black women mathematicians, who worked in NASA’s computing pool more than 50 years ago, were separated from their white colleagues, and commonly called, “colored computers.” These women calculated trajectories for the Apollo missions, and Johnson herself tracked several major missions, including Alan Shepard’s Freedom 7 in 1961 and John Glenn’s Friendship 7. “Hidden Figures” highlighted Johnson and other black women’s fight for equality in the workplace.

The lack of acknowledgement Johnson received for her work is not an isolated incident. Women have not received credit for a number of brilliant breakthroughs and achievements for hundreds of years. Sometimes deliberately stole credit for women’s work, other times the recognition was transferred more indirectly. This has created a false myth that women’s history lacks great creative and intellectual achievement, which undermines women’s past and future accomplishments, and has largely erased their work from history books, and eliminated powerful role models from the stories we tell our children.

Johnson and her colleagues are just one example of remarkable women throughout history who didn’t get the credit they deserved for revolutionizing the world we live in.

Lise Meitner discovered nuclear fusion. As acting director for the Institute for Chemistry in 1933, Meitner had to flee after Hitler came to power, but kept in touch with chemist Otto Hahn. Letters between the two of them show that they discovered nuclear fission together in the 1930s. Meitner was denied proper credit due because she was Jewish and a refugee, whereas Hahn, who stayed loyal to the Nazis, later won the Nobel Prize for this work, and refused to give Meitner credit.

Trotula of Solerno was a pioneer in women’s health. An Italian doctor in the eleventh century who wrote specifically about women’s health, Trotula of Solerno has been recognized as “the world’s first gynecologist.” Her writings are still considered building blocks in our knowledge about human health, and women’s health specifically. However, her work had been questioned over the centuries because historians and medical professionals were skeptical that a woman could have produced works of such accuracy or importance.

Hedy Lamarr invented wireless communication. During World War II, Hedy Lamarr worked closely with George Antheil to develop the idea of “frequency hopping,” which would have prevented the bugging of military radios. The U.S. Navy ignored her patent though and used her research to develop new technologies. Years later, her patent was rediscovered, which led to her receiving the Electronic Frontier Foundation award shortly before her death in 2000.

Anna Arnold Hedgeman organized the March on Washington. Anna Arnold Hedgeman was the only woman on the organizing committee for the 1963 March on Washington where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. But according to Bowdoin College professor Jennifer Scanlon, the civil rights leader was “hidden, concealed, out of sight” by the men around her. Not only did Hedgemen galvanize many different groups of people to participate in the march, she organized transportation and made sure attendees had food and water.

While these women’s stories, and many more like them, have been uncovered and are once again being shared and told, there are tens of thousands of women whose work remains in the shadows. Take for example the women who fought for our right to vote, or the multiple black women who were part of the Civil Rights Movement, and today the women who march, and who courageously share their stories through the #MeToo movement and #TimesUp. Their stories need to be told and their achievements celebrated so their work can light the way and for other women to follow.

The women whose work has shaped our history have created the foundation for us to boldly move into the future and have paved the way for us to pursue parity in political office, equity in men-dominated workplaces, equal access to high-status professions, equal treatment after divorce, and punishment of sexual harassment and rape. They have set the stage for us to achieve full equality. We need to share their stories and write our own—giving ourselves the credit we deserve.

Order Dr. Nancy’s new book today!

Marlene Chism, author of Stop Workplace Drama and No Drama Leadership says In This Together, “Offers women a powerful perspective about how to advance, how to get support and how to give support to others.”

Check out In This Together: How Successful Women Support Each Other In Work and Life to see how you can develop a community of like-minded allies…there’s a ton of actionable insights from 40 successful women that will help you harness the collective power of that community.”

Order your copy – and gifts for your friends today!

When It Comes to Networks, Women Need Quality Connections

Networks are key to anyone’s career advancement, but this is especially true for women, who are underrepresented at all levels of business, from first tier managers to the C-Suite. That means peers and colleagues aren’t readily available in the workplace, and a woman must step outside of her daily professional connections to find the support and quality networks that she needs.

Even though women are strong collaborators and communicators, we tend to have fewer business-related connections than our male counterparts. We also tend to divide the connections we do have into personal and professional groups, with less evident overlap than men. This presents some challenges when it comes to building or advancing our careers.

New research in Harvard Business Review by Brian Uzzi, a professor at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, finds that when looking at groups of MBAs—analyzing both the makeup of the subjects’ networks and the types of jobs they found after graduation – men benefit not so much from size of network but from being central in a network, or connected to multiple “hubs,” or people who have a lot of contacts across different groups. Women also benefit from being central in a network, “but to achieve the executive positions with the highest levels of authority and pay they also had to have an inner circle of close female contacts, despite having similar qualifications to men including education and work experience.”

Uzzi concludes, “Because women seeking positions of executive leadership often face cultural and political hurdles that men typically do not, they benefit from an inner circle of close female contacts that can share private information about things like an organization’s attitudes toward female leaders, which helps strengthen women’s job search, interviewing, and negotiation strategies.”

For women it isn’t the size of the network that matters, it’s the type of connections that make a difference. Thankfully, a woman’s most formidable strength is her ability to build relationships. This is what networking is really about, not just connecting on LinkedIn, trading cards, or getting business leads. True networks are built on commonalities and trust. You can’t predict when someone you know might make a connection to help you in your career or your life, or when you might help someone else with a referral. The depth and breadth of your network also build a personal and professional safety net, and the connections themselves can bring great joy and satisfaction.

Small Networks Can Make a Big Difference

A strong network doesn’t have to be big to be effective. This is a topic addressed in the book, In This Together, where we discuss a time in Dr. Nancy’s life where she struggled with feeling a lack of support and decided to build a community of like-minded women who would support each other, and realized that when we help one another, anything is possible. “I found that community with the women I call my Psyche Sisters,” she said. “All eight of us were seasoned therapists working on our doctorates in clinical psychology. We gave each other moral, physical, and emotional support, and all eight of us received our doctorates and became licensed psychologists. We have continued for more than twenty years to meet, reflect, encourage, and celebrate who we are as women and psychologists.”

A Strong Network of Women Can Change a Community

We also share the story of Paige Oxendine and Rachel Anderson in the book, In This Together, who were united in a determination to make a difference and show what women can do. They noticed that the leadership of almost everything in their Springfield, Missouri, community could be characterized as overwhelmingly “male, pale, and stale,” and they asked, “Where are all the young women and minorities?

With a grant from the Women’s Foundation in Kansas City, they set up a women’s network, which they named Rosie, and held their launch party the week after the November 2016 presidential election. The realized they’d struck a nerve when more than 200 women showed up. Today, Rosie provides a support and advocacy system, as well as a referral pipeline for female speakers and board members. Their mission is to help connect, partner, collaborate and continue to increase the support and access to resources for women as it relates to professional development, business assistance and leadership, and they support, assist and serve as an advocate network for current and prospective female founders, business owners and leaders in the Springfield region.

Network with Purpose

To build a network that will help you through the good days and bad, and help you continue to advance, think quality over quantity. It’s less about how many people you know, and more about who those people are. Uzzi also recommends that you embrace randomness and diversify your network and inner circle.

Ultimately, you have to put your skills to work and build a network with purpose and focus on connections that can be mutually beneficial. We’re in this together, and we, as women, have a lot of momentum. As we intentionally continue to connect and support one another, we can reach our professional goals, and build a workplace that works for women and men.

Order Dr. Nancy’s new book today!

Ms. Career Girl says that, “Just as with getting clear on your goals and resolutions, you don’t have to imagine all this from scratch. Check out In This Together to see how you can develop a community of like-minded allies…there’s a ton of actionable insights from 40 successful women that will help you harness the collective power of that community.”

In This Together: How Successful Women Support Each Other In Work and Life, is filled with thoughts, advice, and stories from 40 successful women across a variety of careers—from authors to actresses, CEOs and professors—encouraging women to support each other in the workplace and in life.

Ready to learn about action plans on how all women can work together to break free from the binds of gender inequality? Order your copy – and gifts for your friends today!

Taking Springfield by Storm!

This week has been one for the books as I returned to Springfield, Missouri and spoke to a number of smart, amazing women (and men) about my latest book, In This Together. The energy that happens when you gather a group of powerful women together is just the best, and this trip was filled with great energy.

I started the day taking part in the Speaker Series for The Association for Women in Communications. This group is comprised of women who are passionate about communications, driven toward greatness, motivated to lead, and inspired to elevate the future. During lunch, I talked about many of the key issues addressed throughout In ThisTogether and had the opportunity to have some great conversations with attendees afterwards.

It was then on to spend an evening with Rosie, a phenomenal group that is highlighted on pages 230-232 in, In This Together. Rosie is network of local women committed to helping other women reach their goals, whether that is to join a board, start a business, land a new job, etc. It is an ideal place to meet the women shaping the community, and provides a support and advocacy system for members, as well as a referral pipeline for female speakers and board members. Their mission is to help connect, partner, collaborate and continue to increase the support and access to resources for women as it relates to professional development, business assistance and leadership, and they support, assist and serve as an advocate network for current and prospective female founders, business owners and leaders in the Springfield region. I would also like to give a big thanks to the men and women at Missouri Trust & Investment Company for sponsoring the evening’s event.

Both events were filled with connections, questions, and conversations on how we, together, can move women’s issues forward, and were equally inspiring and energizing. I can definitely say that I, along with my Women Connect4Good team, had a wonderful time taking Springfield by storm!

Mean Boss or Misunderstood Leader?

It wasn’t long after Senator Amy Klobuchar announced that she was running for president that reports from former staffers depicted her as a brutal mean boss. According to a piece in Politico, former aides, all speaking anonymously, describe a toxic work environment that included everything from demeaning emails to thrown office supplies and requests for staff to perform personal chores.

Klobuchar has defenders too, including former staffers who have gone on the record to push back against the stories, and, “suggest that the critique is grounded in sexism against a woman who demands excellence from her employees.” Forbes reports that many of Klobuchar’s supporters also argue that, “she was being targeted due to her gender and that a man in her position would be considered ‘tough’ instead of toxic.”

Is Klobuchar tough? Is she a bully? The victim of a smear campaign? Or maybe just misunderstood? We will probably never know, but can definitely sympathize with those who feel victimized, and remind them that they are not alone. Studies show that while 60–70 percent of bullies at work are men, 30–40 percent are women, and according to a 2017 survey conducted by the Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI), they all target women two-thirds of the time.  As we write in In This Together, workplace bullying is so common in various forms that almost three-fourths of employees have been affected by bullying, either as a target or a witness, according to research from Dr. Judith Lynn Fisher-Blando with the University of Phoenix. In fact, WBI has reported that bullying on the job is four times more common than either sexual harassment or racial discrimination.

While it’s true that assertive women are much more likely to be viewed as bossy or even as bullies than their male counterparts, we can’t assume just because someone is a woman her behaviors are being mislabeled or misinterpreted when charges are made. So how do you know when your boss is being tough, and when they’ve crossed the line? Start by checking your bias. Take a searching and honest look at yourself and the situation:

  • Is there any way you might be misinterpreting what’s going on?
  • Are you the victim of a bullying campaign, or just upset by someone’s manner or tone?
    Does this person treat everyone that way or just you?
  • Are you treating everyone with the same courtesy and respect, or are you being high-handed and demanding to some?
  • Are you performing your job as well as you can, or are you making life difficult for others?

If this isn’t a bullying situation, what can you learn from it? How can you adjust your behavior? And if this is a bullying situation, what do you want to do about it? By finding ways to support the humanity of workplace bullies while working to eliminate their toxic behaviors, you may be able to develop more productive, supportive relationships. However, if you are in a hopelessly toxic situation, focus your efforts on finding your next job ASAP. Picture how great you will feel when this is behind you and new prospects are opening up with a new, better employer and a work group in which you can develop supportive relationships.

In This Together shares a number of ways you can work through workplace bullying issues, eliminate toxic behaviors, salvage your position and move forward. Learning to deal with conflict in positive ways, practicing good communication skills with everyone at work, and exhibiting understanding and compassion will help transform the company into a productive, positive place where you and your coworkers can build your careers together. A tough boss can be a learning experience and challenge you to reach professional excellence. Remember that we all have a shared goal at work to do our best work and make our organization successful. When you focus on that goal and support one another, it becomes much more fun and reduces misunderstandings and perceived slights among leaders and fellow employees.

Whether You March or Not, You Need to Stay Engaged

Did you march on post-inauguration Saturday in 2017? If you did, you engaged with 4.6 million people in 642 cities on every continent on the globe who demonstrated for women’s rights. One year later, women recognized that anniversary, and once again used the streets to express their concerns. Proving that there is power in numbers, hundreds of thousands of women gathered in major cities and small towns around the globe, sharing messages as diverse as the marchers.

This year, as women again took to the streets marking the third anniversary of the Women’s March, the messages seemed even more diverse, and participants even less cohesive than in prior years. Since its inception in 2017, the Women’s March has been dogged by accusations that it does not speak for all women. As Gloria Feldt pointed out, while the 2019 iteration fielded respectable showings in major cities around the world, there is no question that some wind has gone out of its sails.

Many expressed concerns leading up to the 2018 Women’s March too, voicing fears that the movement lacked the cohesiveness necessary to move forward. Experts warned that there were too many special interests and too many different messages represented to truly affect change. However, what’s important to remember is that it has brought change and done what it was established to do. The Women’s March aimed to engage women from all walks of life and inspire them to continue their activism long after they returned home. In many ways, that goal has been realized.

Despite fractures and differences of opinion, the Women’s March is not doomed to fail. Since the early 19th century, the women’s movement in the United States has fractured along lines of race, class, age and religion. Yet strategic coalitions among these feminists have generated important victories for women’s rights, showing us that the divisions within the Women’s March do not represent an existential threat to the feminist movement.

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.

Our commitment to change also cannot be limited to a cold Saturday in January. We must maximize the impact of movement building on the individual level — reinforcing the network of support around ourselves and generously helping other women succeed. We should never forget how fortunate we are to live in this time and take part in this movement for equality for all women, everywhere. We can dwell on what’s wrong; we can worry if it will work. Or we can say, “Today is the first day of what remains of my life, and I want to see women achieve equality before I die.”

I for one am going to focus on what I can do every day and join my dear friend Gloria Feldt who said she would “spend zero time angsting about the schisms. I’ll keep moving women forward in my way, toward taking our fair and equal share of leadership in all sectors, including business, professions, and nonprofit or social profit work, not just politics. Taking powerful positions is way more impactful than railing against power.”

Two years ago, thousands of women threw themselves into activism for the first time in their lives, and the march events provided a rare chance to build networks of like-minded people. These networks formed in 2017 have grown and expanded, and the women involved remain active. Clearly, this is our time, so let’s keep the actions and momentum building. Let’s ask for what we want, support other women in exercising our “power to,” and believe in our abundant ability to change the world, together.

Order Dr. Nancy’s new book today!

Gloria Steinem has said Dr. Nancy’s new book will “help us create community, success, and well-being.” Find out why and order your copy (and gifts for your friends) of In This Together: How Successful Women Support Each Other In Work and Life–thoughts, advice, and stories from 40 successful women across a variety of careers—from authors to actresses, CEOs and professors—encouraging women to support each other in the workplace and in life. Learn about action plans on how all women can work together to break free from the bonds of gender inequality. Get engaged and stay engaged by reading and sharing the powerful messages for women in this new book.

Why Gaining Equality Inspires Women’s Hope

What a thrill to experience women’s quest for equality through the play, “Gloria: A Life” in New York City this past weekend! The theater-in-the-round evoked Gloria Steinem’s living room, with each seat backed by a colorful pillow, the stage filled with Persian rugs and ethnic prints, stacks of books, and electrified by a powerful ensemble cast of eight women actors. Multi-media projections brought history to life as Christine Lahti enacted Steinem’s career, starting as a “girl writer” in the news industry of the time, which was unashamedly dominated by white men, also portrayed to entertaining effect by women actors.

For two hours, we were THERE with the young Gloria as she struggled to escape the pink ghettos of fashion and beauty writing assignments, as she fought to gain recognition for her skills rather than her looks, and as she learned from experienced African-American organizers. Over the decades and in community with other women, she gained the courage to overcome her fear of public speaking and began her life’s work as an organizer.   We learned with her, as she spoke with other activists hundreds of times each year, learning and educating around a still-radical notion: women and men arefully equal and human.

My fifteen-year-old granddaughter sat riveted throughout the performance, and said she learned a lot that she had not known about the women’s fight for equality. I learned a lot too:

  • That the U.S. Constitution was modeled after the Iroquois Confederacy, that Benjamin Franklin invited two Iroquois men to attend the Constitutional Convention as consultants, and that their first question was, “Where are your women?”
  • That despite denigrating public pronouncements by national (male) TV commentators, the first issue of magazine, which Steinem co-founded and published free of fashion and beauty advertising in 1971, sold out in Los Angeles in just eight days.
  • That experienced women activists of color were allowed to speak to the media only about race while Steinem, a newbie, was elevated as the spokesperson for women’s issues (which might explain a lot about racial tensions surrounding the 2016 Women’s Marches.)
  • That the protesters who piled bras, girdles and other restrictive clothing into a barrel never set a match to it because they could not get a fire permit and were too obedient to break the law, even though the press forever after dubbed them “Bra Burners.”

And so much more. What a great teaching tool! I hope the play becomes popular in high school theater programs because young people need to understand what it took to gain the rights they enjoy today.

The play is adapted from Steinem’s fascinating 2015 memoir My Life on the Road, and if you can’t get to New York to see the play, you should read the book. At the performance I attended, which was a benefit for TakeTheLead, Steinem herself led the audience discussion that forms an integral part of every performance. Women and men, young and old, asked questions, shared personal stories, and expressed their appreciation for the doors Steinem and her peers opened for all women today. Rights young women take for granted today were absolutely outrageous ideas then.  Sexual harassment, previously accepted as “just life,” is now a thingthat women can fight. Today women have a legal basis for seeking equal pay, equal opportunity, and the right to control our own bodies, even though progress is uneven and continually threatened.

Steinem, now 84, noted in her closing comments one benefit of growing old: she can remember when things were so much worse than today. She stressed that women’s equality is not something to be won in a mass movement later, but by each woman every day doing a small thing to stand up for equal rights. We gain the courage for those actions by connecting and living in community with others, sharing our stories, laughing and crying, and making our plans together. She left us with a challenge and a question: “What outrageous action for equality will you take in the next 24 hours?”

How to Balance Your Crazy Busy Holiday Season

‘Tis not the season to run yourself ragged, but I know that for many women, that’s what happens during the holidays. If your constant companion is an endless to-do list, you are not alone. As women, we tend to give, and give, and give some more taking care of people at home, at work, and in the community. Now that we’re well into the holiday season – aka the season of giving – we ramp that up and our time revolves around (likely unreasonable) expectations about parties, shopping, gifts, and spending time with friends and family. In the quest to hit the deadline, find the perfect gift or attend the next party many of us lose sight of our own health and wellbeing. If we’re not careful, we find ourselves overwhelmed, too exhausted to do or give another thing, and waiting anxiously for the holidays to be over.

With all you have to do, it may seem counter intuitive to reach out to another woman for help. Sure, she’s busy too, but your women friends really can help you get through a stressful holiday season with year-end deadlines at work. With their encouragement, you will find new ways to be kinder to yourself and maybe even cross things off your list, as long as you can find the courage to ask for the help you need. As we wrote in, In This Together, “You can put five women together in a room, and within an hour they’ll have analyzed the problem, made a plan, divided up the action steps, and begun to work toward a solution. Women share skills of problem solving and mutual respect and complement one another’s strengths.”

With our “tend and befriend” approach to stressful situations, women can be your strongest allies and your greatest source of encouragement this time of year. A quick cup of coffee with a friend could help you prioritize and develop a path forward. A quick phone call with a colleague can give you an action plan and make your unmanageable situation suddenly doable. We have been taught to conceal our vulnerability. But when we act authentically and invite others to help us solve a problem, we discover strength and power to accomplish things far beyond anything we can do alone.

Kathy LeMay, founder, president, and CEO of Raising Change, knows that it’s a balancing act and that it can be tough to manage overwhelm at the end of the year. At this time of year, leaders like Kathy can be thinking, “I can’t believe how much I have to do. I can’t believe other people have already done their holiday shopping while I haven’t done laundry in a month.” Kathy recommends three tips to manage end-of-year overwhelm:

  1. Write everything down to manage the details
  2. Take your time on each task rather than rushing
  3. Take yourself for a walk at least three times a week

Those are all great, effective ideas, and I want to add: Reach out to other women. Especially during the holidays, each of us needs to support other women everywhere. Not one of us is as creative, skilled, and powerful as we are together.

Ultimately the most important thing you can do for your health and well-being this season – and every other day of the year – is to be true to yourself. You really can’t be all things to all people. No, you can’t. So take a break, take a breath, and nurture yourself and your connections. You deserve a happy holiday season, too! And the better care you take of yourself, the more you will have to give. It’s a miracle!

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