Gender issues

Do Fewer Training Opportunities Block Women’s Tech Careers?

What gender barriers have you encountered at work?

I heard from an associate on Linked In that she did not have gender issues in getting hired to her tech job and has found great women mentors in her field who have provided great mentor-ship. Her college adviser was also a wonderful mentor and is now a great friend.She has encountered one important issue in working with the predominantly male professionals in her office.
On a number of occasions the men were allowed to get additional training and opportunities, but when it was her turn, she was refused the same opportunity. This has been going on for a number of years and she is looking for other opportunities. The problem, though, is that they other jobs would require her to leave the area and uproot her family.

How can women get the additional training they need to advance?

She is doing part-time work a friend’s company, but there is not enough work there for her to quit her other job, since she is the main breadwinner for her family. “Needless to say, it is stressful,” she says.
What strategies have you used to gain additional training in your career? Answer this question on Facebook.

Women Fight Gender Barriers


Popularity of 50 Shades of Grey Does NOT Mean Women Want to Be Dominated.

Author of Iron Butterflies, Women Transforming Themselves and The WorldRecent media spin on the popularity of the novel “50 Shades of Grey” suggests that assertive and successful feminists want men to be rough and in charge, (e.g. Newsweek “The Fantasy Life of Working Women: Why Surrender is a Feminist Dream”). Accomplished woman scholar, Dr. Birute Regine disagrees.

She says that the book has all the elements of a good read that women like: It’s hot; it’s sexy; it’s an escape. But she finds what the media is doing in their buzz, suggesting that strong women REALLY want to be dominated in real life, is subversive toward women. The book’s success doesn’t mean women want to be dominated; it means women like sex and have erotic fantasies. Gasp!

Birute agrees that the story is about domination, but she compares it to “The Wizard of Oz,” where a strong dominant character discovers his vulnerability and is transformed as a result. The blogosphere is full of spirited debate about empowerment v. the objectification of women, but the point remains, the fact that women buy erotica, does not spell the failure of feminism.

Dr. Nancy and Birute discuss who defines the media and how women allow media images to define us. There are lots of ideas about how we fought during the Women’s Movement against objectification and how we seem today to be objectifying ourselves.

Besides writing her award winning book, Iron Butterflies: Women Transforming Themselves and the World Birute also launched Iron Butterfly Circles. Her goal is to help like-minded women connect and claim their feminine power. This requires rising above narrow media depictions of women’s limited roles and refusing to accept the way various societies throughout the world conspire against women leaders.

Listen to this lively conversation, then check out Birute’s I. B. Circles and her new book, Iron Butterflies Circles Interactive Guidebook for Leading in the New Era of Women to find out more about joining or starting your own circle.


Women media representations delay reaching equity

Take the Pledge for Miss Representation

We’re so used to it we’ve almost stopped noticing it. But although women were making progress in politics for several decades, they are losing ground in a big way!

Only 9 out of 109 world leaders (including President, Chancellor, Queen) are women.

  • Women hold just 17% of seats in Congress
  • Women occupy 22% of state executive offices in the U.S. (Gov, Lt. Gov, Atty Gen. Secy State)
  • After the November 2011 election, the numbers of women in elected office dropped for first time in 40 years.
  • In 1994, 34 women filed to run for governor. In 2012, just four women have filed.

 Why are so few women entering politics?

A recent report by the Women’s Media Center has provided dismaying statistical data on the status of women in U.S. media. Only 24% of news stories in 2011 even reported on women. Although women’s inroads into nontraditional professions are real and exciting, they’re still few. Even in fields where women are increasing, they tend to be concentrated in “pink ghetto” subject areas.


How Are Women Portrayed in the Media?

Throughout the nearly 9-minute-long trailer, images and news clips that exploit women’s physical appearance exposes how these messages portray violence against women, misogyny and gender inequity, and limit appreciation for intellectual women or women in leadership positions. Statistics in the trailer point out that women make up 51% of the U.S. population, yet only 17% of women hold positions in Congress.
The statement that resonates most is made by Marie Wilson, Founding President of The White House Project, an organization that seeks to get more women into elected office, who says, “You can’t be what you can’t see.”
The media is a powerful instrument of change and change can only occur once we are able to see the type of force this tool has cast on society. It’s up to us women to use the force of media to influence positive change and correct the representation of women.

Time for a Young Mother in the White House?

Women's RightsThis election year we’ll hear the usual gnashing of teeth about the lack of good candidates. But it turns out both major political parties have young moms in the pipeline that might very well become presidential candidates in the not-too-distant future.
What would that be like? A chief executive who knows from experience that discussions of  family leave, paid sick time and paid maternity leave are integral to healthy families? That these ideas are central to family values. That equal pay matters not just to women but to their spouses and kids?
Political writer, Joanne Bamberger says in a recent CNN Opinion article, that 2016 may just be the year, especially if Hilary keeps her promise not to run again. Democrats have Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democratic senator from New York who is 45, firmly ensconced in her political career, and mother to two sons, ages 9 and 5. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, is the head of the Democratic National Committee.
Republicans have Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a representative from Washington. You’ve seen her face behind Speaker of the House John Boehner at all those news conferences. She has a 1½-year-old daughter and a 5-year-old son, and is the highest-ranking Republican woman in Congress, Bamberger says. Republican South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, and GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire are also potential candidates.

Women Fight the Double Standard at Work

I recently went through a bag of handouts and notes from the Women In Communications national conference in Tulsa. So it was six months ago — so what? At least I went through them and found some gems to share with you.
June Werdlow Rogers, a retired DEA special agent in charge, spoke from her 28 years of law enforcement experience, a male dominated industry for sure.
I was struck by three main points she made and her list of the 10 things women most hate to hear a man say…

Avoid Title Defensiveness

It’s not about your title, it’s about the job you are doing. It’s not necessary to harangue someone who gets your title wrong — especially on camera. If you doubt this, search You Tube for “Call Me Senator.” Then look at all the spoofs and ads that resulted from it. Did Senator Boxer gain or lose by insisting the General use her proper title? The world might be watching. It’s military protocol to call even a female President of the United States ma’am — the equivalent of “Sir.”

Distinguish Love Taps from True Harassment

A “Love Tap” is the little dig that proves you’re one of the guys. Have you noticed that most men rib each other unmercifully? A woman who treated her friends that way would be considered a b***h, but it’s a normal affectionate guy thing. It’s different from baiting that is designed to keep you off kilter and make you feel excluded.
Learn from the experience, Rogers said. Know that it is not you. All women before you have experienced it as well, so learn from it. Shrug it off as inevitable for a woman who is breaking into a man’s world. Don’t dwell on it.

Prepare Carefully for Photographs

Think it through carefully. What is the visual message? I heard Jane Fonda talk once about the lifelong consequences after she followed a photographer’s suggestion to “Sit over here.” “Here,” of course, was the barrel of a cannon in Vietnam. She will never live it down. If you have any doubts, refuse. You don’t even need to give a reason. By the same token, Rogers recommends against ever being photographed with a beverage in hand, regardless of the type.
Make sure your image is fashionable and functional rather than faddish and flattering. It’s NOT about your womanly charms, right?

Top 10 Things Women Leaders Hate Hearing from Men

10. Women are too emotional.
9. Why are you always wearing pants?
8. Is it that time of the month?
7. Are you afraid of breaking  a fingernail?
6. You’ll just quit when you get married.
5. Women have no guts; they’re not risk takers.
4. Women are bad leaders and men won’t follow them.
3. You took this job so you could find a husband.
2. You’re taking the job from  man who needs it.
1. She got promoted by laying on her back.

Fight the Double Standard

If you work in a male-dominated field and haven’t yet heard these things, stick around. And here’s the secret. Don’t get mad, get even — by doing the best, most professional, most even-handed job you can. Take the high road and you will never be sorry.

~Maggie Castrey, WomenSpeak Editor


Women Wanted: STEM Jobs Add 1/3 More to Income

If “impenetrable mess” is what you think of when you hear the word “technology”, listen up!

tangle of electronics cordsAt a time when women are struggling to make 77 cents to every dollar men make, there are jobs where women are paid more fairly. They are called STEM and they encompass a wide variety of fields that apply Science, Technology, Engineering or Math to do the work. Many certifications that require less than two years provide the necessary education to give women, especially women with children, the income they need to provide economic stability for their families.
Of course those who pursue a 4-year bachelor’s degree or higher earn a higher income in STEM fields. But many certifications and associate’s degrees from community colleges provide the training needed to work as engineers’ assistants, technical assistants to computer users and much more. And more than half of the students who attend community colleges go on to complete higher degrees at 4-year colleges.

Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) Report

According to a new report from the IWPR, if women would seek an education in Science, Technology, Engineering or Math (STEM), they could increase their earnings significantly beyond what they might earn in a traditional woman’s job. For example, a computer support specialist could expect to make $46,859, yet only 29% of these jobs are filled by women. Contrast that to a teaching assistant, which only pays about $18,759. Yet 89.9% of all teaching assistants are women. Of course not all areas are so extreme, but on average, women can make 1/3 more by choosing a STEM occupation rather than spending their education time and money on what has been a traditional woman’s occupation in consumer services, health sciences or education.

Facts about Working Women and STEM Jobs

  •  51% of the workforce are women.
  • Women hold only 1 out of 4 STEM jobs.
  • Traditional jobs for women: child care workers, health aids or administrative assistants have low starting pay, flat wage increases and poor benefits.
  • US Department of Commerce found that overall women with STEM jobs earned 1/3 more than comparable women in non-STEM jobs. They also found the gap between men’s and women’s wages was less.
  • Growth in STEM jobs has been more than 3 times that of non-STEM jobs over the last decade. And growth is predicted to remain strong.

Why We Care

Helping women achieve STEM degrees and develop careers in these areas, not only helps each woman receive a family-sustainable wage, it also puts the economy of the United States in a competitive position in the global market.
The report’s author, Cynthia Costello says, “Investing in STEM education for low-income women and student parents is a win-win strategy. It strengthens the economic security of American families and expands the number of highly-skilled STEM workers to make the nation more competitive in the 21st Century.”
The opportunities are there. President Barack Obama emphasizes that the key to preparing Americans for the jobs in today’s economy is higher education. The president’s budget for 2013 includes $3 billion for STEM education.

 STEM Degrees Not Keeping Pace with Demand

These careers are crying out for women. Only one in seven engineers is a woman. Yet engineering is the second largest STEM occupation. Ironically, the number of women graduating with bachelors and masters degrees in STEM fields has increased, while those receiving 2-year associates degrees and certifications have decreased. In fact, short-term and medium certifications, which require less than two years to complete,  have been cut in half. Even more astonishing is that less than 4% of STEM degrees are awarded to women of color.
Some of the theories about why more women aren’t seeking STEM areas include the lack of women role models and mentors. There are too few women at this time to show others how desirable fields in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math can be, both economically and for job satisfaction. Another issue is that women may not see these jobs as flexible enough to support their care-taking needs. The community colleges may not be able to address these needs adequately either. Many student parents find that financial aid falls short and list lack of income is a primary cause for interruption of their post-secondary education.
Barbara Gault, Ph.D.,The Vice President an d Executive Director of IPWR says, “As the nation works to improve access to community college credentials, it is critical that women and people of color have equal access to high quality degrees, such as those in STEM fields, that lead to family-sustaining wages.”

Special Needs of Women and Student Parents

Promising programs use active recruitment strategies to reach out to people who might not think of STEM careers. Low-income women and student parents may require more intensive resources and academic supports to succeed in STEM fields at community colleges.
They need special resources:

  • Affordable child care
  • Financial aid that takes into consideration housing and food for their families
  • Academic advising to help them navigate the demands of college
  • Counselors to guide students toward careers they may be unfamiliar with
  • Developmental education in the form of remedial one-on-one coursework and free on-line tutoring
  • Curriculum and instruction aimed at women’s collaborative style of learning and skill acquisition
  • Educational pathways the help student parents balance degree requirements with work and family obligations to avoid interruption to their timely degree completion.

Recruitment for Jobs of the Future

The report shows snapshots of programs at community colleges around the country that target women. It also makes a variety of recommendations suggesting a multifaceted strategy that includes:

  • Personalized recruitment efforts to both high school and existing community college students
  • Active participation through peer mentoring programs
  • Workshops led by women faculty and scientists and visit STEM classrooms
  • Accessible information for prospective students about financial aid, child care and other supports, including internships and work opportunities Emphasize the economic benefits of high-wage, high-skill STEM fields
  • Reinforcing strategies, such as advertising and personalized outreach.

For more information, visit the IWPR website and listen to Dr. Cynthia Costello’s podcast about how STEM fields would bring greater economic security to women and their families and improve the economic health of the nation as well.

Working for Equal Pay

How to Make the Pay Gap Go Away

Are you mad yet?

Perhaps you are not willing to wait until 2076 for equal pay to creep into women’s lives? That’s actually how long it will take at the pace of the last 30 years.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Women can take control of their careers and their lives and make the pay gap go away.
The American Association for University Women offers these suggestions.

What You Can Do to Achieve Pay Equity

  • Get a college education in a STEM-heavy  field. (Science Technology, Engineering, Math)
  • Negotiate for your highest possible starting salary.
  • Consider the impact that your decisions will have on your earning power:   whether and when to get married or have a family, and the division of labor at home.
  • Develop a strong female negotiating style that will not backfire on you.  AAUW, in collaboration with the Wage Project, offers $tart $mart salary negotiation training for women entering the job market.
  • Write letters to your legislators and local papers, blogs, and tweets are just a few examples.
  • Join an organization like AAUW for a ready-made network of activists.

Employers Step Toward Equal Pay

  • Paying workers fairly is legally and ethically necessary. (Fighting suits has cost companies many millions, including Home Depot, Novartis,  Smith Barney and WalMart)
  • Fair pay can be good for the bottom line by improving  workers’ morale, reducing absenteeism, and improving performance.
  • “Sunshine is the best disinfectant,”  so be transparent about salaries and pay rates. Only about half of employees are allowed to discuss wages and salaries. Transparency in government pay encourages equity.
  • Use audits to monitor and address gender pay differences. (Minnesota requires a public-sector pay equity study every few years to eliminate pay disparities between jobs that require comparable levels of expertise. To see how they do it, visit Minnesota’s pay equity web page.
Based on The Simple Truth About the Gender Pay Gap, by AAUW, 2012 .

 The Simple Truth About the Gender Pay Gap


Violence Against Teens Poses Major Problem

Stop the ViolenceRelationship violence continues to pose a huge problem for young people, who are just figuring out how to conduct relationships. Unfortunately, too many of those relationships take a bad turn.
Do you know someone who has experienced sexual assault, rape, or stalking? Here are some startling truths:

  • Young people ages 12 to 19 experience the highest rates of rape and sexual assault of any group
  • Those aged 18 and 19 experience the highest rates of stalking.
  • One in three adolescent girls experiences physical, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner, which according to Justice department statistics is THE most common type of violence affecting youth.

How Can I Recognize Teen Dating Abuse?

Futures without Violence says you can recognize teen dating abuse by asking yourself if your boyfriend or girlfriend:

  • Controls where you go, what you wear, or what you do.
  • Tries to stop you from seeing or talking to family or friends.
  • Calls you derogatory names, put you down, or criticize you.
  • Threatens or scares you.
  • Hits, slaps, pushes, or kicks you.
  • Forces you to do something sexual when you don’t want to.

Bullying in the Work Place

For teens and women in the workplace, bullying, also called relational violence, is  ruining lives.

  • Many of the perpetrators are female!
  • Girls often treat each other terribly.

Born This Way Foundation

Lady Gaga recently created the Born This Way Foundation

to foster a more accepting society, where differences are embraced and individuality is celebrated. The Foundation is dedicated to creating a safe community that helps connect young people with the skills and opportunities they need to build a braver, kinder world.

We believe that everyone has the right to feel safe, to be empowered and to make a difference in the world. Together, we will move towards acceptance, bravery and love.


  • National Domestic Violence Hotline
    1-800-799-7233 (1-800-799-SAFE)
    TTY: 1-800-787-3224


Know your Mamas!

This Women’s History Month, let’s all make a point of remembering our fore-mothers. We can draw inspiration from them to spur us forward to continue their hard work.
Womens RightsMany girls and women believe we have it made, that we can do it all. In my experience there is always a price, but usually a price worth paying. Look at old photos of suffragists and other pioneers in women’s rights. They often look alone, lonely, and scared. Yet, they soldiered on in the face of extreme opposition from men around them, and even from other women.
These amazing women activists and advocates:

  • Were powerful orators changed society by winning the vote for blacks and then for women
  • Took personal and financial risks when they challenged the establishment and the courts.
  • Combined the best of masculine and feminine styles of speaking.

Iron Jawed Angels

The film “Iron Jawed Angels ” tells the fantastic story of the fight for votes for women. It tells how

  • Young women like Alice Paul – fought the older conservative established women suffragettes
  • Older women tried to break their organization!
  • Young women activists were beaten, jailed, force fed in prison
  • Their efforts earned the vote for 20 Million American women in 1920

Women 2.0 Project

The Women 2.0 media project aims to capture the voices of pivotal living women who made history, including Gloria Steinem (outspoken feminist editor of MS. Magazine), Phyllis Schlafly (who led the successful effort to defeat the Equal Rights Amendment), Condoleezza Rice (first woman Secretary of Defense and Black too!) and dozens  more. View these fascinating interviews.
Listening to these interviews provides an exciting glimpse into how women have used their voices to change the world. Toady we are so lucky — although we can all acknowledge there’s still a long way to go.
It’s hard to believe at one time women who came before us could not:

  • Vote
  • Own property
  • Sign contract
  • Speak for themselves or
  • Control their own bodies

To even talk about contraception was illegal — and judged obscene — in the 1920s. Before 1972 it was illegal for single women to buy contraception.
Today some forces are trying once again to take away a woman’s legal right to control her own reproductive tract. Don’t let this happen.


Buy the DVD

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When Birth Control Was Illegal

Birth Control pioneerOne hundred years ago it was illegal – and OBSCENE — to teach women about contraception. Today as the debate about women’s healthcare coverage rages, it’s good to look back at how things once were, and to contemplate the possibility of a return to those bad old days.

A woman named Margaret Sanger fought for your right to control your body. She grew up in a house with 10 brothers and sisters, which was not all that unusual in those days. In fact, she helped deliver one of those siblings in a home birth when she was eight years old.

Margaret and her sister Ethel Byrne opened the country’s first birth control clinic in two rooms in Brooklyn in 1917. Nine days later she was arrested and the clinic was shut down. She appealed and the resultant judgment allowed doctors (although not nurses) to prescribe contraception for medical purposes. This became the foundation on which she and others built the modern birth control movement.

Nation’s First Birth Control Clinic

The New York clinic provided contraception and preventive gynecology, as well as groundbreaking services in sex education, marriage counseling, and infertility counseling. The clinic even quietly made referrals for safe, illegal abortions.

When women gained the right to vote in 1920, Sanger found her base of support growing. Nonetheless the atmosphere in the United States continued to be fraught, which led Sanger to move her efforts overseas.

Margaret Sanger’s Clinic — and the movement she inspired to give women control over their own healthcare — inspired the organization known as Planned Parenthood.

Thank you Margaret Sanger for your courage, determination and commitment.


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