Gender issues

Change Can Create Opportunity for Women, Men and Business

work from homeThe COVID-19 crisis has not only changed the ways we live, work, and play, it has changed the way we earn, learn, and interact with one another. With states opening up, some business leaders are grappling with ways to keep everyone safe, while others are recognizing the benefits of keeping their workforce at home. As everyone adjusts to this current normal, the door is open to create flexibility in our workplaces that makes professional opportunities and work environments more equitable to women and men, and a more profitable new normal for business.

Big business is waking up to work-from-home opportunities. Walmart announced that tech workers don’t have to return to the office anytime soon — or potentially, ever. The decision follows Twitter, which recently told employees that they can continue to work from home “forever” if they’re in a role that allows it. Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg also said the company is ramping up hiring remote workers and predicts that 50 percent of its employees could be working remotely within the next five to 10 years. Google has also announced that workers who don’t need to be onsite can extend their work-from-home arrangement until the end of the year.

The work-from-home forever response to COVID isn’t limited to the tech sector. Studies find that as many as half of those employed before the pandemic shifted to working remotely and at companies where remote work is possible, many now expect it to continue for quite some time. So, whether your desk doubles as the dining room table for the rest of the summer or beyond, at three months and counting, remote work isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon.

This is fortunate as many are thriving in the current workplace setup and are hesitant to return to the office. According to Gallup, three in five U.S. workers who have been doing their jobs from home during the coronavirus pandemic would prefer to continue to work remotely as much as possible, once public health restrictions are lifted. In contrast, 41% would prefer to return to their workplace or office to work, as they did before the crisis.

What Do These Changes Mean for Women?

While many women have long wanted the flexibility that included part or full-time work-from-home, the COVID-19 version isn’t an option they would choose but is one they must endure. Work-from-home coupled with the continued dangers of the pandemic is isolating and hard on those who live alone. Those with children also find it more difficult because of COVID-19, as their supports are shut down and they’re juggling work, childcare, home schooling, and more.

New evidence from Lean In found that since the shutdown, more than half of all women are struggling with sleep issues. Far more women than men with full-time jobs and families say they have more to do than they can possibly handle. This is resulting in increased stress in women’s personal and professional lives. However, men are noticing. While women are juggling as fast as they can, men’s COVID experience of balancing unpaid work with paid work is eye-opening. In fact, a recent study on working parents found that twice as many fathers as mothers described caregiving during the lockdown as extremely difficult and 38% very strongly agreed that they should be doing more of the unpaid work at home.

Harvard Business Review predicts how this might play out for women’s equity, “Because men vastly outnumber women in senior leadership roles in most organizations, this is a golden opportunity for men-as-allies to purposefully leverage their newfound experience balancing teleworking and domestic partnership to truly move the needle on full gender equity. As organizational change agents, male leaders must demonstrate vision, courage, and genuine collaboration with women to rework policies, practices, and systems in order to create a new normal in our post-pandemic workplace, as well as in society more broadly.”

It’s time for these male leaders to become our allies and partner with us to advocate for change and flexibility. These past weeks have proven that work-from-home options are not only viable, but preferable for many, and with the return of societal supports, could be exactly what women need to shake up the traditional five-day-at-work model that comes with the “Motherhood Penalty” we’ve tried to eliminate for so long. We need equitable sick leave, and for our male counterparts to do their fair share when it comes to taking sick kids to the doctor or staying home with them. Of course, we still need affordable childcare too.

This time of great change creates an ideal opportunity for us to level the playing field and make gender equality a key feature of the new normal. Moving forward, women and men need to work together, and employers need to seek ways that blend work and family to maintain high-performing employees, economize of the cost of high turnover and physical office space, and reap the rewards of talent in the right places. We’re all in this together and if we all want to benefit from these difficult times, we need to support one another, be clear with our intentions and look for ways to change crisis into the kind of opportunity in which everyone wins.

Building Gender Equality Instead of Returning to Normal

While the country takes steps to reopen, and the news cycles are filled with examinations of society returning to normal, Hawaii is taking steps to rebuild rather than simply return to the status quo. In fact, the state is looking to seize the opportunity “to build a system that is capable of delivering gender equality.”

Hawaii is the first state to propose what it’s calling a “Feminist Economic Recovery Plan,” and some of the basic ideas touted in Building Bridges Not Walking On Backs include raising the minimum wage to a living wage ($24.80/hour for single mothers), the adoption of a universal basic income, universal single payer health care, paid sick days and paid family leave, a restructuring of the tax system, publicly funded childcare for all essential workers, and more.

Hawaii is unique in that it has some of the highest costs for childcare and elder care, and the largest shortage of care services in the U.S., which is why women have pointed out the need for social share infrastructure. The plan, produced by the state’s Commission on the Status of Women, addresses that need as part of a call for “deep cultural change” by explicitly incorporating the unique needs of indigenous and immigrant women, caregivers, elderly women, femme-identifying and non-binary people, incarcerated women, unsheltered women, domestic abuse and sex trafficking survivors, and women with disabilities.

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has called COVID-19 “the great equalizer” and this plan out of Hawaii illustrates that it is time to take that point to heart and look at a ways to build a future that sustains us all. The plan states that, “Rather than rush to rebuild the status quo of inequality, we should encourage a deep structural transition to an economy that better values the work we know is essential to sustaining us. We should also address the crises in healthcare, social, ecological and economic policies laid bare by the epidemic.”

Looking beyond COVID-19, the International Labour Organization, UN Women, and the European Union have also called on G7 nations to put measures in to promote gender equality moving forward. Citing the fact that the pandemic has deepened pre-existing inequalities and exposed cracks in social, political and economic systems, the organizations find that women with care responsibilities, informal workers, low-income families, and youth are under particular pressure.

Hilde Hardeman, Head of the European Commission’s Service for Foreign Policy Instruments (FPI), said, “We can say that the COVID-19 crisis is gender biased looking at its impact on women-owned businesses, on the burden women are facing during the crisis, at the increase of gender based violence, but the COVID crisis is also an opportunity to rebuild back better. Our efforts should now concentrate on putting women at the centre of the recovery.”

While these past weeks have been a time of personal reflection, we need to revisit that piece of graffiti in Hong Kong that proclaims, “We can’t return to normal, because the normal we had was precisely the problem.”

It’s time to tackle the elephant in the room. As we look ahead, sure, there are personal changes we want to take forward with us – like unscheduled weekends or daily walks, routine self-care, time to make art, time with friends, or watching the sunset. But we also need to look beyond that and address changes that need to be made in the workplace, and systemic changes in our society. We need to take this time to look for ways to close the pay gap, to get more women into leadership roles, to address sexism, and bias. We need to pressure our elected officials to make sure that women have the supports they need to thrive, and to make meaningful contributions to their families and communities. And ultimately, we need to look for ways to tackle these issues together and build a society that is truly gender equal and sustains us all. Now – before things return to normal – we need to pause, take stock, and redefine normal.

 

 

 

How Sexism Blocks Women Candidates

When the final two top tier Democrat presidential candidates dropped out of the presidential race, it became clear that the primary qualification they lacked was being a white man. Some may claim it was a lack of support, and others may cite a lack of momentum, but few can point to a lack of qualifications. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar, as well as the other women that initially joined them in their bid – namely Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Kamela Harris – are all more than qualified with a proven track record of leadership in local, state, and national government, except that no woman has ever been president. Until we see a woman in that position, sexism will continue to be a hurdle blocking women candidates from being President.

Looking at their qualifications and their overall electability, the odds are good that their struggles had very little to do with their platforms, and everything to do with their gender. Warren’s loss in particular brought home the fact that for the second time in four years, an exceptionally qualified female candidate lost to her male counterparts — some of whom were far less qualified.

Sexism was definitely a factor in this campaign. While it may not have been THE factor, it carried weight. Female candidates had to prove their qualifications more than the men they were up against, and they had to deal with increased media scrutiny and gender bias, and they faced greater issues surrounding likeability and voter perception on the campaign trail than their male counterparts. All of which of course, was further amplified via social media.

Warren spoke about the gender “trap” Thursday.

“Gender in this race — you know, that is the trap question for every woman,” Warren said after announcing she would be suspending her campaign. “If you say, ‘Yeah, there was sexism in this race,’ everyone says, ‘Whiner.’ And if you say, ‘There was no sexism,’ about a bazillion women think, ‘What planet do you live on?’”

Melissa K. Miller, a political science professor at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, told NBC News that this week’s events could make it harder for women running for president to succeed in the future. “Folks are convinced that a woman can’t win, so they don’t vote for a woman, thus ensuring that a woman doesn’t win, and the cycle continues. The reality is that a woman can win. Hillary Clinton’s victory by about 3 million popular votes in 2016 made that clear.”

Apparently, America isn’t ready for a woman president. However, it’s important to remember that we still have a number of women running down the ballot that can run their races and win, and they need our support. The first thing we can do is recognize the fact that gender bias is alive and well in politics, and the women running (and serving) now know it and face it every day. It is our responsibility to call out the comments that seek to undermine them, name them as biases and talk about them. To help more women represent us at every level we need to encourage them, counteract the public ridicule they often face, and offer them our support. Their courage and willingness to work hard to solve the issues that can make the world a better place for all of us is admirable and necessary. They are paving the way for that woman who will finally break through the sexism bias and become our first woman president.

To Get More Women in Leadership It’s Time to Take The Lead

“When women support one another, we can create massive ripples of change that create better lives for everyone.” – Gloria Feldt

Over the past five years, the number of women in senior leadership has grown. Still, women continue to be underrepresented at every level. Why? For starters, women are less likely to be hired and promoted to manager. In fact, for every 100 men promoted and hired to manager, only 72 women are promoted and hired. As a result, men hold 62% of manager-level positions, while women hold just 38%. The number of women decreases at every subsequent level, reducing to a minuscule 5% at the CEO level.

That’s where organizations like Take The Lead Women can create real change. Designed for women ready to take ownership of their careers (and lives), Take The Lead gives women the tools they need to up their game with 9 Leadership Power Tools courses, 50 Women Can Change the World programs, Virtual Happy Hours, leadership coaching and much more.

This week in Scottsdale, Arizona, Take The Lead celebrates progress with the Power Up Conference: 50 Women Can Change the World 2.0, spotlighting their work to teach, mentor, coach, invigorate, and inspire women who are committed to owning their power and using their voice to become influential leaders of change. The conference will offer two full days of learning, and participants will experience extraordinary leadership development including workshops, panel discussions, lightning talks, accelerated roundtable discussions, and networking.

Take the Lead was founded in 2014 by Gloria Feldt and Amy Litzenberger, with the bold mission to reach leadership gender parity by 2025. That’s 70 to 150 years faster than the prevalent projections. Gloria is certain that this is the moment when a quantum leap to parity can occur. She is convinced that through Take the Lead’s uniquely effective programs, based on solid research and measurable results, women will embrace their phenomenal power to lead with purpose, confidence, intention and joy – without fear or apology.

Dr. Nancy currently serves as Take The Lead’s board chair, and Women Connect4Good, Inc., which supports women helping women networks, is proud to support Take The Lead and help them equip women with the tools they need to achieve parity by 2025.  That partnership not only advances women into leadership positions across all sectors, it proves our power   to transform women’s leadership when we work together.

To learn more about Take The Lead and the upcoming Power Up Conference, go to www.taketheleadwomen.com.

How Male Allies Can Help Women Advance and Why They Need To

Male AlliesMen have an increasingly important role to play when it comes to helping women advance in the workplace. When asked directly, most men say they support gender equality, so why is progress moving so slowly? Study after study examines the perspectives and company policies that stand in the way and offer insights and strategies to help women’s advancement. Lean In and McKinsey & Company’s latest Women in the Workplace report shows that while we are making progress in some areas, companies need to stay focused on efforts “earlier in the pipeline” to make real progress, and that’s where our male allies can often help women most.

Many successful women say their best mentors and allies have been men, since there are so few women in the C-suite and upper management. We advise in the book, In This Together, that we can best engage men to help us advance when we, “Look for a man who can turn his good intentions into lasting change if women will tell him truthfully and openly the ways gender equality has affected them, has shown 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, and is willing to mentor and sponsor women to create opportunities for female leadership within your company.”

Do men like this actually exist? Yes, in fact there are actually quite a few of them when you know what characteristics to look for. Once you identify such a man, ask for his help, tell him what you need from your own perspective, and expect and believe that he will help you.

While there are a number of ways that male allies can help women advance, Susan Madsen, Women’s Leadership Thought Leader from Utah Valley University, recently wrote in Forbes that simply recognizing women’s contributions can be a good place to start. In a recent survey she found that women mentioned, “how powerful it was for men to recognize their work and ideas even in private settings; it mattered when men truly listened and acknowledged the value women brought to their organizations.”

Madsen and her colleagues April Townsend and Robbyn T. Scribner recently published a scholarly article in the Journal of Men’s Studies, titled “Strategies that Male Allies Use to Advance Women in the Workplace.” While researching, the three explored a number of important actions that seem to be making a difference. Besides recognizing women’s contributions, they also found that providing honest, accurate and specific feedback also helps. The largest study of its kind, women reported that strong male allies did not hesitate to give praise or correction when needed, and that feedback is critical for advancement. While it may go without saying that men can become stronger allies when they learn more about — and then challenge — gender discrimination in all forms, the researchers found that one of the most important ways that men can help women in the workplace advance is simply by supporting and changing HR processes and procedures. In fact, the men in the study placed company policies about inclusive hiring, family leave policies, etc. as more important than women.

There are so many ways that our male allies can help women advance. They are a great and necessary resource for creating opportunities and helping us step into leadership roles. We must engage their help to change the status quo and make a real, daily commitment to support a more balanced, diverse and successful management and workforce. That’s how we’ll reach gender equality in leadership. We can do it best when we (women and men) work together.

Big Advancements in Gender Equality Expected in 2020

Gender Equality2020 is a shaping up to be a big year for advancements in gender equality. In fact, The Guardian reports that world leaders, civil society and the private sector are preparing to make 2020 the biggest year yet for the advancement of women’s rights. Building on previous events, commemorating positive shifts and goals  of note, supporting women leaders, and planning for new ways to close the gap are just a few of the ways that we can collectively continue our work to secure equal rights and opportunities for all.

For starters, thousands of people are expected to attend high-level UN events and forums in Mexico City and Paris to mark the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action, the landmark agreement to end gender inequality. In addition to the Beijing anniversary, 2020 also marks two decades since UN Security Council Resolution 1325 first acknowledged women’s unique experience of conflict and their lack of involvement in peace negotiations, with anniversary events being planned for October. The New Year “also kicks off the 10-year countdown to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which includes a commitment to end gender inequality by 2030.”

In the U.S., 2020 is also a year to celebrate as it marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing and protecting women’s constitutional right to vote. This historic anniversary offers an incredible opportunity to recognize an important milestone of our nation’s democracy and provides an ideal opportunity to explore its relevance to the issues of equal rights today. The 2020 Women’s Vote Centennial Initiative is serving as an informational clearinghouse, and publishing events hosted by local, state, and national groups who are working to, “remember the legacy of suffragists around the country with monuments, memorials, and projects that honor the life and work of the women who dedicated themselves to the fight for women’s equality.”

It’s also important to keep in mind that 2020 is an election year, and just as 2018 saw the biggest wave of women elected to government in history, with 2,133 women being sworn into America’s state legislatures.  Since the election, women also hold 25 seats in the U.S. Senate and 101 seats in the House, voters can expect this year to provide more of the same momentum. Whether eyeing the school board, mayor, state legislature, or the highest office in the land, women are running and they need our help to win.

In fact, supporting the women running or preparing to run could very well be where we can have the greatest impact in the coming year. While all eyes tend to focus on the presidency and national or even statewide offices, we need to also look local as Kate Black, former chief of staff and vice president of research for EMILY’s List points out, “There are over 500,000 offices that you can run for in this country.”

“It’s not just the 435 in the U.S. House of Representatives or the 100 in the Senate or even that Oval Office on Pennsylvania Avenue.” Black said. “It’s this whole landscape that’s available to women.”

“If women run, women win,” says Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University said. So, whether it’s the school board, city government, state or national office, we need to lend our support to help another woman run. That is how we make our voices heard. We need to celebrate the women who have paved the way and support those ready to follow their lead. It’s when women help women that we all win, and it is time to recognize the road we’ve traveled, support one another through what lies ahead, and do our part to make 2020 the biggest year ever for advancing gender equality.

Push Her Forward and Vote Her In

Political Activist for Women

Rebecca Sive

Rebecca Sive was raised to work hard, get educated and in turn, teach others. Most of all she was raised by parents who thought it was important to advocate for democratic values and help get people elected to create equal opportunities and fairness for all. Since the 2016 election, and the subsequent Women’s March, Rebecca has been inspired to increase her advocacy for women and write her newest book, Vote Her In: Your Guide to Electing Our First Woman President.

#VOTEHERIN

Convinced that the time is now, Rebecca points out that a woman already got elected to the presidency by the popular vote. A fact she uses to make the case that the American people, both men and women, are ready for a woman president. In Vote Her In, she helps women – especially those who did not vote for the woman for president – see how they actually voted against their own interests.

Rebecca explains that the road to better health care, improved child care and education for all is by electing a woman president. Women understand the need for these things, which is why it just doesn’t make sense to vote for someone who does not address the issues in their policies. She also explains the ways that a woman president would help women reach parity sooner, first by demonstrating the ways that women make great leaders, and second through policies to promote equal pay and status in the workplace.

“When A Woman Leads, Everyone Wins.”

Women are proving that they can lead every day. In fact, as a result of their leadership, companies are more profitable, and policies are more beneficial to all.  Originally recorded in October, 2018, Dr. Nancy asked Rebecca who might run for president and Rebecca pointed out that women have been running and winning for years. Although only one-fifth of the Senate are women and there are only six governors, there are a number of women who have executive experience. She predicted that after the 2018 mid-terms, a pool of women would start to throw their hats into the ring. Early next year (2019), they will begin fundraising and announcing their intentions for 2020.  She predicted that regardless of where you stand ideologically or politically, you will have a choice and begin to see women leaders speaking out. (Rebecca was absolutely right. At this update, the field of six women running for President has thinned to four, but that’s still more than ever before at this stage of the campaign.)

In the second part of Vote Her In Rebecca encourages women to get behind the woman they choose and help her get elected. This how-to section of the book gives readers advice and direction for how to engage with the political process and push that deserving woman toward the presidency. Rebecca says women do it all the time. We lift each other up and help one another achieve our goals. We can elect a woman president and the country is very ready for it.

Listen to this interview for more inspiring comments and insights. Check out Rebecca’s website and get her book. Use #VOTEHERIN whenever possible and get this movement moving. If all of us push together we can Vote Her In!

 

Supporting Women Who Lead Will Make the World a Better Place

Women who lead put themselves in a position to be agents of change and make the world a better place. As Dr. Lois Phillips and Luz Reyes-Martin (two former podcast guests) point out, women often step out to lead in their communities to solve a problem that may endanger their children, families or neighbors, or issues they feel compelled to fight for. Often a small step, like speaking out at a school board meeting ultimately launches a later political campaign for public office. Today, we’re seeing an avalanche of such women as never before. Whether eyeing the school board, mayor’s office, state legislature, or the highest office in the land, women nationwide are planning – and running – their campaigns and lining up their support. No matter where your party loyalties, it’s up to us to support them.

We all win when women lead. In fact, former President Barack Obama was recently quoted by the BBC as saying that he believes living standards and economic outcomes would improve if women led every country in the world. “Now, women, I just want you to know: you are not perfect, but what I can say pretty indisputably is that you’re better than us [men]. I’m absolutely confident that for two years if every nation on earth was run by women, you would see a significant improvement across the board on just about everything.”

The 2018 election was hailed as the “Year of the Woman” as women ran for office and voted in record numbers. The “Pink Wave” swept across the nation and carried young women and veterans to victory in Senate and governors’ races and brought some major breakthroughs for women of color. Many of the toughest House races were won by political neophytes taking their first steps into electoral politics. As we approach the 2020 election, that wave doesn’t appear to be slowing down.

As podcast guest Rebecca Sive points out, women have been running, and winning, for years. In her book Vote Her In Rebecca references a handbook she wrote years ago, Every Day Is Election Day: A Woman’s Guide to Winning Any Office, from the PTA to the White House that advocates, “Campaigning to get to the head of the line as fast as possible, not by stepping on or over anyone else, but by working harder and faster. Succeeding as a woman in a man’s world (politics) by advocating for women—not by pretending that women and men have such similar needs and challenges that special attention to women (and the public policies that follow from it) isn’t needed. Dreaming and planning big, not because you think you are better than others, but because you’re willing to do the work and accept the responsibility for others that come with responsibility in high places.”

The women who are running for office this cycle ARE dreaming big and planning big. They are putting the issues on the front burner, and often putting their lives on the back. They are working to better their communities and taking responsibility for the betterment of the places they call home. We need to encourage them and offer them our support for their courage and willingness to work hard to solve the issues like health care, childcare and education for all that can make the world a better place for all of us. Reach out to help a like-minded woman you know who can be your voice and represent your values, and help her win. ‘Tis the season to support women who lead.

 

 

Women Running for Office Face Bias – Again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Scroll to top

© Women Connect4Good, Inc. All Rights Reserved.