Gender issues

Sexism and Racism Can’t Be Ignored

Sexism_RacismJudge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s recent confirmation was a stark reminder that sexism and racism are both alive and well in 2022. She was interrupted, talked over, and questioned about issues and persons far outside of her personal and professional experiences. Her work was disparaged and attacked, and her character called into question. Throughout it all she remained calm, focused, and on point. She was under intense scrutiny, not because of her professional track record; it was due to being a Black woman. By disparaging her solely on the basis of gender and race, senators ironically showed their worst behavior while Judge Jackson responded with a calm, professional demeanor.

Former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, the first Black woman elected to the Senate, said that she admired Judge Jackson’s grace during the hearings, despite the harsh questioning. She pointed out how Judge Jackson is imminently qualified, adding that much of what Judge Jackson experienced during her confirmation process felt all too familiar.

“There’s a word, and the word is called misogynoir,” she told Vox. “And that word describes the double whammy that women of color have to face: You’re vulnerable on the issue of gender, and you’re vulnerable on the issue of race.”

While senators continued their attacks, and simultaneously moaned about other recent nominees having been treated unfairly, Judge Jackson remained steadfast, and for the most part unshakable, not giving in to the hysteria, or preconceived judgements surrounding her. Legal scholars Madiba Dennie and Kate Kelly wrote that women are already stereotyped as emotional and unfit for leadership. “Black women in particular have to patiently overperform in order to combat racist tropes of the ‘angry Black woman’.”

Judge Jackson’s experience with sexism and racism were on global display, but she is not alone in her experiences. Women, especially Black women, across the country still deal with implicit and explicit bias and outright sexism and racism on a daily basis. How does this happen? Especially now, in 2022? Actually little has changed in this century. Leadership roles in both business and politics are still occupied heavily by men. Congress is still more than three-fourths male, and just 7% of Fortune 500 corporations are led by a female CEO.

Oddly enough, attitudes have changed about which gender can do the job. The General Social Survey at the University of Chicago reports that the number of Americans who think men are better suited than women for politics has decreased from 44% to just 13% in the past five decades, and today, only 4% of Americans say they won’t support a woman for president.

Leisa Meyer, a historian at the College of William and Mary, says, “Women aren’t only judged differently for the same behaviors; they’re also still thought of as more emotional, worse leaders, and less apt to make hard decisions.” Christian Science Monitor staff writer Noah Robertson writes that while many women hold similar gender stereotypes, those perceptions tend to be held most strongly by men.

Black women also have to deal with perceptions surrounding their race. While Judge Jackson may have been the first (and only) Black woman to be nominated and confirmed to the Supreme Court, many Black women in corporate America often find themselves as the first and/or “Only” in different organizational settings. According to Lean In’s State of Black Women in Corporate America report, in meetings and other common workplace scenarios, “54% of Black women are often the only or one of the only people of their race/ethnicity in the room. Black women having this ‘Only’ experience are significantly more likely than white women in the same situation to feel closely watched and to think that their actions reflect positively or negatively on other people like them.

In addition, “40% of Black women say they need to provide more evidence of their competence, compared to 28% of white women and 14% of men. Black women are (also) more likely than other women to hear people express surprise when they demonstrate strong language skills or other abilities.”

Yet most Americans remain in the dark about this blatant racism. In fact, 53% are not aware of the pay gap between Black women and everyone else, although, on average, Black women are paid 38% less than white men and 21% less than white women. One Black woman described the added pressure by saying, “I feel like I have to represent the entire race. I need to come across as more than proficient, more than competent, more than capable. I have to be ‘on’ all the time. Because in the back of someone’s mind, they could be judging the entire race based on me.”

Black women have always been on the front lines for gender and racial equity, and now are also confronting anti-Black violence. It’s important to understand what Black women are up against, and end this undeserved bias and violence, and truly achieve equity for all. In order for that to happen, we have to work together. Period. Meyer contends that women overall, are less cohesive as a group. However, as Dr. Nancy writes in In This Together, that doesn’t have to be the case. There is so much we can achieve if we embrace our collective strength. Trudy Bourgeois writes that, “History teaches us that when women come together and support each other, we can change the world.” If these past couple of years (especially) have taught us anything, it is that it is definitely time to come together and support each other unconditionally, because without unity we can’t even stand up against a virus, much less a senator who keeps their job in spite of bad behavior. It is time for women (and men) of every color to come together as “us” and even include those who disparage our fitness to lead, lift everyone up and follow Judge Jackson’s example to calmly, steadfastly eliminate sexism and racism to truly create a better world.

Women’s History Month – Celebrating the Trailblazers

March_Womens_History_Month“The history of all times, and of today especially, teaches that…women will be forgotten if they forget to think about themselves.” – Louise Otto

March is Women’s History Month, the only month of the year dedicated to celebrating the trailblazing women who lead the way for change and their contributions to our society. It’s an important celebration too, as many major contributions and accomplishments made by women have been largely left out of our history books and our stories. A 2021 White House “Proclamation on Women’s History” reminds us that March offers an important opportunity for us to shine a light on the legacy of those who have built, shaped, and improved our nation. “Throughout American history, women and girls have made vital contributions, often in the face of discrimination and undue hardship.  Courageous women marched for and won the right to vote, campaigned against injustice, shattered countless barriers, and expanded the possibilities of American life. Our history is also replete with examples of the unfailing bravery and grit of women in America, particularly in times of crisis and emergency. Far too often, their heroic efforts and their stories have gone untold — especially the millions of Black women, immigrant women, and others from diverse communities who have strengthened America across every generation.”

The National Women’s History Alliance designates a yearly theme for Women’s History Month, and the 2022 theme ties in perfectly with the earlier proclamation – “Women Providing Healing, Promoting Hope.” The theme is “both a tribute to the ceaseless work of caregivers and frontline workers during this ongoing pandemic and also a recognition of the thousands of ways that women of all cultures have provided both healing and hope throughout history.”

Women’s History Month Origins

March was officially designated as “Women’s History Month” in 1987 by Congress, after first being nationally recognized as “National Women’s History Week” in 1980 by President Jimmy Carter. The National Women’s History Museum reports that the observance actually began as a local celebration in Santa Rosa, California when the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County Commission on the Status of Women planned a “Women’s History Week” celebration in 1978. “The organizers selected the week of March 8 to correspond with International Women’s Day. The movement spread across the country as other communities initiated their own Women’s History Week celebrations the following year.”

International Women’s Day – Break the Bias

International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8 is also important to recognize, since it’s the international predecessor to Women’s History Month. This global day celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women, and marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Given the global focus, the International Women’s Day website reports significant activity is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women’s achievements or rally for women’s equality. “IWD is one of the most important days of the year to celebrate women’s achievements, raise awareness about women’s equality, lobby for accelerated gender parity, and fundraise for female-focused charities.”

World Pulse is recognizing International Women’s Day with two events celebrating their global community’s leadership. On 3 March, they’ll celebrate the top 50 rising voices on World Pulse — including the winners of the World Pulse Spirit Awards — and on 10 March, they’re inviting women to join them as they gather together for a Digital Ambassador-led global training event to strengthen women’s voices and leadership.

“How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!” – Maya Angelou

The theme for International Women’s Day 2022 is #BreakTheBias. Whether deliberate or unconscious, bias makes it difficult for women to move ahead. Knowing that bias exists isn’t enough. Action is needed to level the playing field. For resources, videos, or to get involved go to www.internationalwomensday.com, and to talk to or collaborate with women from around the world go to www.worldpulse.com.

National Women’s History Museum

Women’s History Month is the perfect time to tap into resources, share the stories of trailblazing women, and examine historical topics from a woman’s perspective. And the National Women’s History Museum is the perfect place for resources. As the largest online cultural institution dedicated to US women’s history, it operates with the mission to tell the stories of women who have transformed our nation, with public programs and events, educational resources, virtual exhibits, a study collection, library, and more just a click away.

As the Museum states, “Women’s contributions and accomplishments have largely been overlooked and consequently omitted from mainstream culture.” They are working to fill that void, as are many educators, writers, historians, and others who also believe inclusive history is good history in Women’s History Month and beyond, and Women Connect4Good is excited to support them in their work.

Whether learning more about women’s history, reading books by women dedicated to achieving equality (In This Together by Dr. Nancy O’Reilly, Intentioning by Gloria Feldt, Equality by Trudy Bourgeois, Lead by Example by Dr. Sheila Robinson), watching films and documentaries that highlight women’s stories (Hidden Figures, RBG, Knock Down the House), supporting a women’s nonprofit (like Women Connect4Good, Take The Lead, the National Women’s History Museum, World Pulse) participating in events (like Convoy Women’s International Women’s Day Experience), listening to podcasts, getting to know women in politics, or supporting female entrepreneurs. The celebration doesn’t stop April 1. We need to honor the women who came before us, and support the women and girls of today all year long.

Gloria Feldt’s Intentioning and How Women Will Take The Lead

IntentioningIn 2010 Gloria Feldt, author, and cofounder and president of Take The Lead, redefined the way women look at power in No Excuses – Nine Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power, by putting it into a historical context and showing the ways in which women have made huge leaps forward in the past, only to pull back right when they were at the threshold. Gloria argued that there’s no excuse for women today not to own their power, whether it’s the way women are socialized, or pressured to conform, or work/life balance issues. Women are still facing unequal pay, being passed over for promotions, entering public office at a much lower rate than men, and often still struggle with traditional power dynamics in their interpersonal relationships. Gloria’s solution to all these places where women face inequality is the same: we must shift the way we think about power to achieve true parity with our male counterparts.

The 9 Leadership Power Tools (chapters) outlined in No Excuses serve as a guide for women from every walk of life and have helped them “change the way they think, and therefore the way they act.” Gloria’s power tools are rooted in a sophisticated concept of power. Women redefine it so they can embrace it with intention and use it effectively. This shift from the outdated, oppressive “power over” to the expansive, positive, and innovative “power to” cracks the code that has held women back from leadership parity. For more than a decade the 9 Power Tools have given countless women immediate, usable ways to navigate the world as it is while changing aspects of their world that keep them from advancing.

Fast forward 11 years, and one catastrophic pandemic later, and Gloria is once again sharing her experiences and inspiring women to embrace their personal power to lead with intention, confidence, and joy. In her latest book, Intentioning: Sex, Power, Pandemics, and How Women Will Take The Lead for (Everyone’s) GoodGloria not only unveils the next step in advancing gender parity in all spheres of business and life, she also lays out the vital next steps in the overall advancement of our economy and our civilization.

Gloria’s latest book is not written with the pandemic as a side note or brief historical fact, but instead looks at how recent events have revealed deep fault lines in our culture and the systemic inequities that have always held women back. It comes as no surprise to her that women flexed their formidable muscles when needed most, representing a disproportionate number of essential workers during the darkest days of the coronavirus global outbreak and leading the charge against racism in the U.S. That being said, this book is decidedly about the future, taking the leadership lessons learned from this disruption and creating a better world for all through the power of intention.

In addition to preparing women to lead change, be change, and sustain change, improve their impact, turn obstacles into assets, apply their power to energies, using their ambition as fuel to achieve their intentions, Intentioning also shares the stories of “Intentional Women” (including Dr. Nancy O’Reilly) teaching readers 9 Leadership Intentioning Tools, with tips for implementing them and practice exercises for each.

Through the lens of women’s stories, Intentioning delivers a fresh set of leadership tools, skills, and concepts that help all women reach their own highest intentions. Gloria purposefully creates new norms, while guiding institutions to break through the remaining barriers to gender and racial parity for everyone’s good. It’s a must-read for every woman who is ready to reach for more and help move women’s progress forward in the workplace and in the world. Learn more at www.intentioningbook.com.

 

Why We Must Help Women Get Back to Work

Back_to_WorkIt should be obvious why we must help women get back to work. The past 16 months have illuminated women’s fragile hold on the delicate balance of income-producing work and unpaid work at home. COVID-19’s devastating effect on the world has especially impacted women. In the US, women lost more than 5 million jobs between the start of the pandemic and November 2020. V, formerly Eve Ensler, writes in The Guardian, “Because much of women’s work requires physical contact with the public – restaurants, stores, childcare, healthcare settings – theirs were some of the first to go.”

The pandemic has intensified women’s existing challenges exposing the systemic inequalities that threaten not only women in the workplace, but our continued ability to thrive. V also writes that “Covid has revealed the fact that we live with two incompatible ideas when it comes to women. The first is that women are essential to every aspect of life and our survival as a species. The second is that women can easily be violated, sacrificed and erased.”

Many governmental and private organizations are scrambling for optimal ways to respond to the pandemic’s damaging effects on women. As the pandemic restrictions ease up and people begin to return to work, many women remain on the sidelines. In fact, there are 1.8 million fewer women in the labor force today than before COVID, and with widespread labor shortages, labor economists are worried.

Stephanie Aaronson, a senior fellow with the Brookings Institution recently told NPR that the reason for so many women remaining unemployed is due to a complex mix of factors. “Some of those could start to subside as the economy recovers, and jobs come back, and schools reopen, and the health situation improves.”

“But a return to pre-pandemic levels could take a long time, in part because women tend to stick with the decisions they’ve made.” Aaronson says. “A mother who decided to stay home with her children in the pandemic may end up out of the workforce for years.”

That’s not good for the economy or the future advancement of women. According to the National Women’s Law Center, it will take 28 straight months of job gains to get women back to where they were in the labor force before the pandemic started. The US Chamber of Commerce recently reported that “there were a record 8.1 million job openings in the U.S. in March 2021 and about half as many available workers for every open job across the country as there have been over the past 20 years.” The Chamber calls the crisis “the most critical and widespread challenge facing businesses.” And its President and CEO, Suzanne Clark said that “keeping our economy going requires we fill these jobs.”

Minneapolis Federal Reserve President Neel Kashkari recently told CNN getting people – especially women – back into the labor force is key to keep the recovery going. “We have to find a way to bring [women] back to work. This is about our economic potential. It is certainly about fairness about women and families. But it is also about our economic potential as a nation.”

The question now is, how can we best support women and help them get back to work? While access to affordable childcare, paid parental leave, and flexibility may be the obvious answers, there is more we can do within the workplace to change the corporate culture and make a return more manageable and appealing to women. Jewelle Bickford, Sandra Beach Lin and Ellen Kullman, founders of the Paradigm for Parity Coalition, recently wrote in Entrepreneur that many of the problems we’re facing now are tied to trends that existed long before COVID-19, from disproportionate home care responsibilities to greater representation in low-wage employment, to long-standing gender inequalities in corporate leadership.

To reverse those trends and make a return doable for women, Bickford, Beach Lin and Kullman recommend we should engage in unconscious bias training to understand, own and address both conscious and unconscious biases that prevent women from succeeding. They also recommend that we increase the number of women in senior roles – which makes perfect sense because when women advance, they tend to take other women with them. The writers also recommend identifying women of potential and providing them with sponsors, mentors, and the tools they need to advance and succeed.

Ultimately, we need to collectively take action on every level to get and keep women employed and in the pipeline for advancement. And we need to think big-picture and develop plans to regain the progress we have lost during this crisis. By fixing the conspicuous inequities in the system that have always held women back, we can emerge from this crisis stronger than ever and finally get women back to work in leadership positions that don’t get erased during the next disaster.  Equity for women creates prosperity and stable system that is able to weather future crises in ways that protect us all—men and women—together.

 

Why Men and Women Must Work Together for Gender Parity

Gender_ParityPrior to the pandemic, women made up more than half of the workforce and were on track to reach gender parity.  However, today women are leaving the U.S. workforce in record numbers – with more than 5.5 million women leaving since the pandemic began. In fact, female unemployment hit double digits this past year for the first time since 1948, and women’s participation in the labor force is the lowest it’s been since 1988. That rolls back progress and threatens to undo over 30 years of advancement toward gender parity.

The Women’s Fund of Rhode Island (WFRI) points out that women have received the brunt of the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and resulted in a “shecession,” which has led to impacts on food and housing security, historic job losses, and childcare shortages. Women carry the majority of the pandemic’s economic burden by far and have lost ground on closing the gender wage and wealth gaps. The Global Gender Gap Report 2020 states that parity will not occur for nearly 100 years.

What’s important to note is that we will not suffer the fallout from this “shecession” alone, and we will not regain our momentum alone either. It’s time to call on our male allies to work with us for gender parity.

Men are a valuable and necessary resource for helping women re-enter the workforce and providing opportunities for advancing to leadership. While a number of men become – or consider themselves to be – allies because they noticed gender inequity in their own environment and saw standing with women as the “right thing to do,” many others may be willing to help or change for the better, but are unsure of where to start.

To help men engage, WFRI is launching a 100 Men for Gender Equity campaign on Wednesday, June 9, and through a virtual launch event will provide thought-provoking discussions and suggested actions for men to take to effectively stand with women. Featuring Ted Bunch, co-founder of A Call to Men, the event will engage 100 (or more) men, to raise $100 each to work towards gender equity.

100_menWFRI also assembled a toolkit for women to share with the men in their lives, engaging them to be mindful and look for ways to share responsibilities daily at home and at work, how to lead by example, how to support legislative change, and more.

Beyond events and awareness campaigns, it’s important to remember that while women are often reluctant to ask men to become allies, it’s important to do so because men can help us create significant gains. It’s easy. As noted in Dr. Nancy’s latest book, In This Together, “Catalyst reported that men’s support for gender equality can be engaged by appealing to their sense of fairness. In addition, shifting away from a win-or-lose mentality to recognizing that everyone benefits from gender equality can lead men to become greater advocates who endorse our efforts to change unfair practices.” Especially right now.

It’s critical for women and our male allies to come together like never before and find solutions that will work now and after this crisis passes. We are in this together, which means when some of us suffer, all of us suffer, and likewise when more of us benefit, we all benefit. Helping male allies see how everyone benefits (even men) from gender parity and giving them specific actions, they can take will turn the tide on the shecession and push women back into the advancement toward parity. Men’s real, daily commitment to recreating the workplace in a way that welcomes and supports a more balanced, diverse management and workforce will liberate our concerns about gender parity and focus all of our energies to creating a sustainable and successful world.

 

2021 – Getting Women’s Progress Back on Track

Womens-Progress

 

Many of us felt a sigh of relief to tear off the last page of the 2020 calendar. After all the uncertainty, the struggles to survive, and blow after blow to the economy, our collective nerves are shot. But the new year has not brought any change in itself. It’s up to us to focus on what we hope the next 12 months will bring, to look at the inequities that became glaringly apparent in 2020, to create fresh perspectives about what really matters, and to work together to get women’s progress back on track.

COVID-19 has had a devastating effect on women and has blurred the boundaries between work and home. According to Lean In and McKinsey & Company’s Women in the Workplace 2020, “Women—especially women of color—are more likely to have been laid off or furloughed during the COVID-19 crisis, stalling their careers and jeopardizing their financial security. The pandemic has intensified challenges that women already faced. Working mothers have always worked a ‘double shift’—a full day of work, followed by hours spent caring for children and doing household labor. Now the supports that made this possible—including school and childcare—have been upended. Meanwhile, Black women already faced more barriers to advancement than most other employees. Today they’re also coping with the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the Black community.” The ongoing stress of racial unrest and violence, inequity in all areas of society, in addition to having to work twice as hard to get half as much has reached toxic levels, whose effects will take years to assess.

All the stress, uncertainty and upheaval is causing women to make decisions that even a year ago would have been unheard of, Thousands of women are downshifting or completely exiting their careers, not because their jobs are disappearing, but because their support systems have. The Century Foundation and the Center for American Progress’ report How Covid-19 Sent Women’s Workforce Progress Backward reported, “Four times as many women as men dropped out of the labor force in September, roughly 865,000 women compared with 216,000 men. This validates predictions that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women—and the accompanying childcare and school crises—would be severe.” The report further states, “that the risk of mothers leaving the labor force and reducing work hours in order to assume caretaking responsibilities amounts to $64.5 billion per year in lost wages and economic activity.”

“If we had a panic button, we’d be hitting it,” Rachel Thomas, the CEO of Lean In said to TIME. “We have never seen numbers like these.”

Women’s voluntary and involuntary exits from the workforce are not only having an economic impact but will also have consequences on gender equality for decades to come. We are at a crossroads and the choices we make today about work-family policies and childcare infrastructure must address immediate and long-term needs. Organizational and government leaders need to think big picture and not only look at ways to get back on track, but also be prepared to weather future crises and really fix the disparities women have had to overcome to advance in their careers since they entered the workforce.

The current crisis presents a historical opportunity, and as Women in the Workplace 2020 points out, “If companies make significant investments in building a more flexible and empathetic workplace—and there are signs that this is starting to happen—they can retain the employees most affected by today’s crises and nurture a culture in which women have equal opportunity to achieve their potential over the long term.”

The pandemic has exposed the gross inequities many women deal with every day and has made addressing those issues and balancing the scales a top priority for 2021.  We need to collectively take action that will keep women employed and in the pipeline for advancement. And we need to think big-picture and develop plans to regain the steps we may have lost during this crisis. We are all struggling with this continued uncertainty. These are the times when we need to come together to help each other through, not allow it to overwhelm us and remember that our progress is important, not only to women, but to everyone’s recovery. By fixing the conspicuous inequities in the system that have always held women back, we can emerge from this crisis stronger than ever and do more than get women back on track. We can accelerate that track to true equity by supporting 100% of the talent and productivity available—women and men together.

 

3 Ways to Foster Gender Equality for Female Musicians

Eileen_CareyGuest post by Eileen Carey, singer/songwriter

I can still recall the conversation like it was yesterday. I was in my late 20s and just begun my music career when I excitedly shared my newfound status as a musician with a famous Nashville music executive whom I admired. I was crushed when he replied, “Sorry, honey, but you’re too old.”

More than a decade later, I’ve amassed several #1 singles and more airplay and awards than I ever dreamed of. I feel truly blessed with my success, and remain grateful to my family, my friends, and, most important, to my fans, for helping make it happen.

Still, I’m beyond distraught for the continued lukewarm response of the Music Row country radio charts. Breaking through has been far more difficult for me than if I were a male country pop singer. Country music is not alone in failing to embrace the progress of women in music. It’s everywhere—in every aspect of the music industry and throughout our culture.

Need proof? Check out these numbers from Rolling Stone :

“In 2019, 22.5% of the top songs were made by female artists. The numbers dip further in the behind-the-scenes of the industry. In 2019, 14.4% of songwriters were female. The same narrative – if not a worse one – emerges in other parts of the industry: women comprised just 5% of producers in 2019.”

The numbers are sobering.  A 2019 report put out by USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism shows that female music professionals identify the same barriers as other professions: objectification, stereotyping, and their status as a statistical minority. The bottom line? The biggest obstacle we face as women in music is the way our industry thinks of us. USC Annenberg professor and expert researcher Dr. Stacy L. Smith sums it up perfectly, “The perception of women is highly stereotypical, sexualized, and without skill. Until those core beliefs are altered, women will continue to face a roadblock as they navigate their careers.

So how do we change the out-of-date beliefs held by so many folks in the music industry and elsewhere?

If you want something done correctly, you gotta do it yourself. Women gaining equality in the music industry is no different. It’s not going to happen unless we join together to make it happen.  There are three ways we can foster equality for female musicians in the industry we all love so much:

  1. Push for quotas within the music industry.

Although quotas tend to polarize people I’m inspired by how much good could come from them. If institutions within the music industry require that specific numbers of females make up radio airplay playlists, festival lineups, or even executive seats at record labels, we can prove how easy it is to fill these positions with well-deserving women.

Starting in 2014, companies on the Toronto Stock Exchange had to disclose the number of women in senior roles and their plans to improve diversity. After introduction of the so-called “comply or explain” approach, women’s presence on public boards increased considerably. At the time the regulation went into effect, 67% of the 100 largest public companies in Canada had at least one female director. As of May this year, 96% had such representation, with about half of those companies seating three or more women in director roles. (Fortune newsletter)

Lessons can be learned from other industries. The system of “comply or explain” is being used in public boards to require women and diverse members be added to their leadership. The result is that women are being added in Canada and various markets in the U.S. and the state of California—just by requiring that they report their membership by gender and comply with quota rules to be listed.  In music as in other industries, some folks will claim that women are given placement based solely on gender. But these naysayers only create another barrier if you allow it.

The inequalities are astounding. In music festivals, for example, festival attendees don’t know who writes songs, but they sure as heck know who is headlining their favorite festival. If organizers of some of the industry’s largest music festivals were required to feature as many women as men, the step towards fostering equality in our industry would be enormous. For example, consider this: the headliners at this year’s Coachella festival were all men. Not a single female artist was presented. Fans and musicians alike need to demand to see their favorite female artists. If we reach out, speak up and vote with our power on ticket sales, festival organizers would listen.

I am drop dead serious when I say that we should encourage festivals with all the tools at our disposal to achieve a 50/50 gender balance by the summer of 2022. Everyone involved in the music industry would benefit—performers and fans alike.

  1. Actively support organizations that promote equality for women musicians.

I am downright giddy when I see how many organizations have formed solely to address the issue of gender equality in music. Check these out:

  • She Is the Music–an independent, global network organization working to increase the number of women working in music – songwriters, engineers, producers, artists and industry professionals.
  • Key Change–a movement to represent the under-represented, working together tobreak down the barriers that are silencing talent, and to achieve better gender balance and inclusivity for gender minorities on stage and behind the scenes.
  • Women In The Mix–launched in 2019 to ignite industry-wide commitment to solving this severe inequality, The Initiative asks that at least two women are considered in the selection process every time a music producer or engineer is hired. It also asks working producers to agree to take issues of gender diversity within music’s technical fields into account when deciding who to mentor and hire for further development.
  • Gender Amplified–is a non-profit organization that aims to celebrate women in music production, raise their visibility and develop a pipeline for girls and young women to get involved behind the scenes as music producers.

Organizations such as these deserve our full support. We should do everything we can to promote them. Remember: when these influential organizations thrive, women in music are sure to thrive as well. Not only should we return the favor by having the back of SITM and similar groups, but we should also create new initiatives that can push for gender equality in music. It’s going to take a myriad of groups and approaches to drive women to the forefront of the music industry. Just as the music requires multiple talents and resources to produce, achieving gender equality throughout requires the same. With more organizations working with and for us, we’ll be better organized far more successful with an equal share of the industry we all support with our talent and skills.

  1. Accept the personal challenge of making progress happen sooner, rather than later.

Things aren’t going to improve for women in music unless each of us does her part. This means that we all have to take it upon ourselves to push for the change we want to see. We must consistently remind people of what we want, and why,and to demand gender equality from record labels, management companies, radio stations, award programs, music venues, and anywhere else that can help bring about the change we deserve.

It’s ridiculous that women are not yet treated as equals in the field of music. And I’m more than equal to accept the challenge to demand change now!

I call on you to make it a priority to shift the inclusion of women into their rightful place in every scale of the industry. It’s up to all of us, to accept the challenge and  to demand, then work for the change we want to happen. I know individual people and companies must commit to change, but If we female musicians (and the fans who support us) unite and amplify our voices, we will absolutely foster the musical gender equality we want much faster than anyone could have imagined.

I’m beyond ready for that to happen.

Aren’t you?

Women’s Races Set Records and Push Closer to 50-50

Womens_Races_Set_RecordsIn the midst of a prolonged and chaotic election cycle, we paused to celebrate the election of Kamala Harris, the first woman, the first woman of color, the first Black person and the first South Asian to be elected vice president of the United States. We also took time to step back and look at the races beyond this historic win that pushed women’s progress closer to 50-50. Women across the country made several gains and moved the dial on representation. The Center for American Women and Politics reported that 134 women (25%) will serve in the 117th Congress, beating the 2019 record of 127 (23.7%). Of those women, 48 (9%) represent women of color, and 22 are non-incumbent winners.

While we have a long way to go to reach 50-50, these gains are still significant, and each win is worth celebrating.

Cori Bush made history on election day as the first Black woman elected to represent Missouri in Congress. Cori was one of at least 115 women of color running for Congress this year. She toppled a political dynasty to get the nomination, and later defeated her Republican rival with more than 75% of the vote.  A progressive activist, single mother, nurse, and pastor, ABC News reports that Cori spoke openly on the campaign trail about her struggle with paying taxes and surviving paycheck to paycheck. She has also been outspoken about her experiences facing homelessness and domestic violence at points in her life. She plans to take her lived experience with her to Congress, and her acceptance speech was impassioned, empowering, and move-to-tears inspiring. Running on some of our nation’s most important issues, she said, “this is our moment.” Her win exemplifies the power of having the courage to step outside of our comfort zone, and her victory proves that we’re in this together.

Marilyn Strickland, the former Mayor of Tacoma, Washington will be the first Korean-American woman ever elected to Congress and the first Black woman to represent Washington State at the federal level.

Wins in New Mexico by Deb Haaland, a Democrat, Yvette Herrell, a Republican, and Teresa Leger Fernandez, a Democrat, mean that New Mexico’s entire House delegation will consist of women of color. Ms. Herrell is also the first Republican Native American woman elected to Congress.

Nancy Mace will be the first Republican woman to represent South Carolina in Congress.

Cynthia Lummis, a Republican former congresswoman, will be the first woman to serve in the Senate from Wyoming.

Sarah McBride, elected to the Delaware Senate, will be the first transgender woman State Senator and the nation’s highest-ranking transgender official.

Chrisina Haswood is the youngest legislator elected to the Kansas State House.

The Northern Cheyenne Nation has elected all women for the first time ever as Tribal President, Vice President, and to fill all five open seats on the Tribal Council.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will consist of all women for the first time since the board’s inception more than 150 years ago.

Women most often serve from a place of love. Cori Bush said in her acceptance speech that she loves the people who elected her and those she represents, and it is with that love that she will fight for everyone in her district. This is why it’s crucial to get more women serving in public office. That kind of dedication and perspective completely changes how we are governed. It starts in our communities and at the ballot box when we elect women at every level to lead us, to fight for us, and to build a country with a government that works for us all.

In Honor of Ruth Bader Ginsburg – A Champion of Equality

“Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.” – Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

There aren’t words to describe the enormity of my feelings for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, or the depth of my sadness with her passing. Thanks to her courage and commitment to justice our daughters can open a checking account, or buy a house without a male co-signer. They can have a job and not be discriminated against because of their gender. With her dissent (and call to action) in the pay discrimination case Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., she helped women make strides toward equal pay. Ultimately, Justice Ginsburg taught our daughters to fight for what they believe in, and demonstrated – with every decision – to little girls everywhere that women can and do belong in all places where decisions are being made.

Justice Ginsburg co-founded the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union in 1972, and built her legacy by chipping away at inequalities – large and small. She understood constitutional equality was an ongoing project, and later in her life said she did not fight for “women’s rights,” but for “the constitutional principle of the equal citizenship stature of men and women.”

Just hours after her death, Barack Obama aptly described that legacy, calling Ginsburg a champion of women’s rights in her battle to achieve equality and fulfill America’s potential as a nation. “For nearly three decades, as the second woman ever to sit on the highest court in the land, she was a warrior for gender equality — someone who believed that equal justice under law only had meaning if it applied to every single American.”

While she opened a number of doors for women, her work is not done. In fact, she clearly spelled out the current situation and her hope for the future, “One must acknowledge the still bleak part of the picture. Most people in poverty in the United States and the world over are women and children, women’s earnings here and abroad trail the earnings of men with comparable education and experience, our workplaces do not adequately accommodate the demands of childbearing and child rearing, and we have yet to devise effective ways to ward off sexual harassment at work and domestic violence in our homes. I am optimistic, however, that movement toward enlistment of the talent of all who compose ‘We, the people,’ will continue.”

Our responsibility, as we mourn her passing, is to follow her lead, continue her optimism, honor her memory, and continue the fight. As my friend Trudy Bourgeois said to me earlier this week, “We all need to lead from where we are.” That means today we need to look to one another, and work together to right wrongs. True gender equity still does not exist, and as we work towards it, we must be advocates for each other. We must raise our voices to speak up for the women whose voices may otherwise go unheard. We the people have work to do, and we’ll be the most effective if we do it together.

 

Celebrate and Exercise Your Right to Vote!

VOTE

So, women 18 to 118, when it is time to vote please do so in your self-interest. It’s what men have been doing for years, which is why the world looks so much like them but don’t forget we are the largest voting body in this country. Let’s make it look more like us. – Michelle Williams

On August 26, 1920, the U.S. Secretary of State certified that the 19th Amendment to the Constitution had been ratified by the required 36 states, and it became law, marking the largest expansion of democracy in the history of our country. “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

As we celebrate the passage of the passage of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing and protecting women’s constitutional right to vote, it’s hard to believe that our presence at the polls wasn’t possible until one hundred years ago, and for Black women, it wasn’t until the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that their right to vote was finally secured. We’re also stepping into another active political season, and women nationwide are deciding who and what to vote for.

Elections impact every aspect of our lives, and it’s important that we all weigh in. While presidential or other national elections – like the current season – usually get a significant voter turnout, state and local elections are typically decided by a much smaller group of voters. In fact, a Portland State University study found that fewer than 15 percent of eligible voters were turning out to vote for mayors, council members, and other local offices. Low turnout means that important local issues are determined by a limited group of voters, meaning every single vote matters even more.

This year we have the opportunity not only to shape the way our communities and our country are run, we have the opportunity to make sure the electorate looks like us – female! We can elect women from local offices, like the school board to the second highest office in the land. This is our chance to vote for women like us who know what it’s like to juggle the demands of a career with the needs of a family, women who know that you deserve equal pay, who value affordable healthcare, childcare and workplace protections, and women who are empowered and who can help you make your voice heard.

But it’s not going to be easy. While the 19th Amendment continues to prohibit states from denying the vote based upon gender, there still will be struggles. National Geographic reports that today is much like it was in 1920. A woman’s access to the polls is determined by where she lives—and that, because of a long history of housing segregation, that often correlates with her race. “A resurgence of voter ID laws, the shuttering of certain polling places, and the purge of voter rolls in some states following a 2013 Supreme Court ruling that rolled back provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 have deprived both men and women of color of the right to vote.”

Add the projected difficulty of voting during the pandemic, a record turnout expected November 3, an expected surge in COVID 19 cases, the possibility of further restrictions of polling stations and limitations of vote-by-mail, women will once again struggle to exercise the right to vote. We need to act now, plan ahead and make sure our voter registrations are current, that our polling stations will be open if we want to cast our ballots in person, or that our mail-in options will make our vote count in a timely manner. We need to reach out to our friends and family members and help them do the same. It is time to exercise your rights, choose representation that supports what’s important to you, and make sure that your voice is heard this November.

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