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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Women Connect to Share Powerful Message of Equality for All

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Know Your Worth to Negotiate the Salary You Deserve

Know Your Worth to Negotiate the Salary You DeserveTo close the gender pay gap women must know and use their worth to negotiate the salary they deserve from the organization they work for. This week, the world champion U.S. Women’s Soccer team’s win shines a glaring spotlight on wage inequality as their struggles for equal pay are well known. An ongoing lawsuit filed against the USSF by 28 members of the team notes that if the men’s and women’s teams won each of the 20 non-tournament games they are contractually required to play, women’s team players would earn a maximum of $99,000, while men’s team players would earn $263,320—that’s only 37.6% of what the men agreed to for the same performance—or 37 cents on the dollar.

The Women’s National Team Player’s Association has proposed a revenue-sharing model that would tie player compensation to revenue generated by the women’s national team for USSF. Showing solidarity for their female counterparts, the men’s national team has issued a statement of support for the women’s team lawsuit against the USSF and for this revenue-sharing model.

Throughout their salary negotiations, the soccer players have used their national platform to make their voices and demands heard. However, the most important thing about their actions is that they know their worth and set a role model standard for all women to follow and benefit from.

Women face unique challenges when it comes to salary negotiations, and as the New York Times reports, it begins with the fact that women are often viewed as “unlikeable” when they do it. Women have been socialized to avoid assertiveness, which is an essential quality when it comes to negotiation, and also consistently underestimate their professional value. That being said, it’s important to keep in mind that women won’t necessarily get what they’re worth, unless they ask for it.

Leadership expert Dr. Marissa L Weaver, Your Leadership Trainer, LLC, is one of the many women working to give women the tools they need to know their worth and negotiate a fair salary. Marissa volunteers through Tri Delta, who in collaboration with the American Association of University Women (AAUW), has launched a national initiative to teach women at 20 colleges and universities how to negotiate their salaries and benefits packages with confidence.

AAUW’s research on the gender pay gap shows that, one year out of college, women are already paid significantly less than men — in 2009, women one year out of college who were working full time were paid, on average, just 82 percent of what their male peers were paid. And those lost potential earnings add up over a lifetime. AAUW Start Smart is specifically designed to teach college age women how to negotiate salaries for a new job. In every two-hour workshop attendees will gain confidence in their negotiation style through facilitated discussion and role-play.

“We get so far behind because we start so far behind,” Marissa said. “From a college woman’s perspective, they don’t know they are supposed to negotiate. Employers are expecting it, but women are afraid to ask.”

The work AAUW is doing to help women negotiate their salary and benefit packages doesn’t end with college age women, the organization’s programming also includes Work Smart, designed to help women in the workforce negotiate a new job, raise, or promotion. Both programs look at:

  • How to identify and articulate your personal value
  • How to develop an arsenal of persuasive responses and other negotiation strategies, including how to get a raise or promotion
  • How to conduct objective market research to benchmark a target salary and benefits
  • How the wage gap affects you, including its long-term consequences

Through these workshops, AAUW reports that women are better positioned for success. “Women who negotiate increase their potential to earn higher salaries and better benefits packages. By negotiating fair and equitable salaries, you’ll be better able to pay off loans, buy the things you want and need, and even save for retirement.”

Weaver has had her own experiences since launching her career and was lowballed early on. “My employer expected me to counter. I didn’t because I didn’t know I could. Luckily I was given a raise after a year to help.”

“You can’t be afraid to ask for what you’re worth, and what you want.” Marissa added. “Most of the time you’ll get something – a perk, a benefit, or money – you just have to ask. The first time you do it, it’s so scary, but once you do it, it’s so much easier.”

Ultimately, we have the power to change the status quo and close the pay gap, all we have to do is simply ask. We’re in this together, and by knowing our worth and using it as a tool to ask for the salary and benefits we need and deserve, we can change the workplace, our homes, our communities, and increase our perceived value to ourselves and to the world.

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

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

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

Make Men an Equal Part of the Equality Solution

Part of the SolutionFor women to be equal to men, we must think equal, which means we need to engage our male allies, and make them an equal part of the equality solution. Unfortunately, eighteen months after the rise of the #MeToo movement, a new study by LeanIn.org has found that 60 percent of male managers said they are uncomfortable interacting with women at work and are afraid to have a one-on-one meetings – up 32 percent from 2018. Senior men who were surveyed are also nine times more likely to avoid traveling with a woman and six times more likely to hesitate to have a work dinner.

This is not good. Overwhelmingly men still hold positions of power at work, and this lack of access and potential mentorship can have devastating consequences on a woman’s career trajectory and gender equality as a whole. Rachel Thomas, president of LeanIn.org said that, “If men want to be part of the solution, then pulling away from women is the wrong thing to do.”

Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In’s founder and Facebook’s chief operating officer, recently said on CBS This Morning, “How do you get promoted without a one-on-one meeting?” You don’t. No one does.

“If there’s a man out there who doesn’t want to have a work dinner with a woman, my message is simple: Don’t have one with a man. Group lunches for everyone. Make it explicit, make it thoughtful, make it equal,” Sandberg said. “Men need to step up. We need to redefine what it means to be a good guy at work. It’s not enough to not harass, and I think too many people think that’s sufficient. That’s necessary, that’s a basic, but it’s not sufficient.”

With so few women in the C-suite and upper management, many women say their best mentors and allies have been men. As we wrote in the new book, In This Together, women employed in majority-male workplaces are already more likely to say that their gender has made it harder for them to get ahead at work. They are also less likely to say that women there are treated fairly in personnel matters, and they report experiencing gender discrimination at significantly higher rates. Disappointingly, nearly a third of women who work in mostly female workplaces say the same. These new findings, and increasing lack of access, makes a bad situation worse.

While women are leading the charge in the fight for equality at work, we cannot achieve parity without the support of men allies. All efforts to involve men in eliminating gender inequality, from historical women’s struggles, like suffrage, to sticking their necks out to support women at work today, hinges on one single strategy: communication, but we can’t communicate if we can’t get a meeting.

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.

We need equal access. We need to communicate our needs and goals and discuss ways to overcome gender bias, assumptions, and oppressive patterns of behavior at work. We need to point out the negative consequences of a lack of access and explain the ways that withdrawal severely limits women’s opportunities for advancement. Most of all, we need to highlight the thousands of ways we all win (men and women) when we achieve equality. Let’s not shy away from the steps we need to take to achieve gender equality in the workplace. The first step needs to be making men allies and an equal part of the solution. Let’s work together to make parity the norm.

Order Dr. Nancy’s New Book Today!

Dealing with sexism and cultivating men as allies are just a couple of the issues covered in Dr. Nancy’s new book, In This Together: How Successful Women Support Each Other In Work and Life, along with thoughts, inspiration, and stories from 40 successful women.

Order your copy – and gifts for your friends today!

 

Is Overwork Creating the Gender Pay Gap?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Order Dr. Nancy’s New Book Today!

Cultivating men as allies and working with them to achieve equality are just some of the topics covered in Dr. Nancy’s new book, In This Together: How Successful Women Support Each Other In Work and Life, along with thoughts, inspiration, and stories from 40 successful women.

Order your copy – and gifts for your friends today!

The #MeToo Movement Continues to Have an Impact

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

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

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

#MeToo Started Long Before the Tweet

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

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

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

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

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

Sexual Harassment is Still a Real Problem

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

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

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

When in Doubt, Speak Out

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

 

Order Dr. Nancy’s New Book Today!

Sexual harassment and gender equality are just a couple of the topics covered in Dr. Nancy’s new book, In This Together: How Successful Women Support Each Other In Work and Life, along with thoughts, inspiration, and stories from 40 successful women.

Order your copy – and gifts for your friends today!

 

When It Comes to Networks, Women Need Quality Connections

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

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

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

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

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

Small Networks Can Make a Big Difference

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

A Strong Network of Women Can Change a Community

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

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

Network with Purpose

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

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

Order Dr. Nancy’s new book today!

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

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

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

Whether You March or Not, You Need to Stay Engaged

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Order Dr. Nancy’s new book today!

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

2018 – An Amazing Year for Powerful Women in Politics

Woman holding sign in crowd that says Volting is my Super PowerWhen women and girls are empowered to participate fully in society, everyone benefits. ~ Melinda Gates

In 2018, women across the country were elected to a record number of local and statewide offices. The “Pink Wave” also swept across the nation in midterm elections that carried young women and veterans to victory in Senate and governors’ races and brought some major breakthroughs for women of color. Some of the big winners of the year were seasoned leaders, like Michigan governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer, and Kansas governor-elect Laura Kelly. But many of the toughest House races were won by political neophytes taking their first steps into electoral politics.

The “firsts” this year included: 

  • Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Iham Omar of Minnesota became the first and second Muslim women elected to Congress.
  • Deb Haaland of Arizona and Sharice Davids of Kansas became the first two Native American women elected to Congress. Davids also made history as the first openly LGBT woman of color in Congress.
  • Ayanna Pressley became Massachusetts’ first black congresswoman.
  • New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 29-year-old progressive, won in a shocking upset.
  • Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia became Texas’s first two Latina congresswomen.
  • Lou Leon Guerrero became the first woman governor of Guam.
  • Angie Craig became the first openly lesbian mother in Congress and the first openly LGBT member of Congress from Minnesota.
  • Jahana Hayes, a former schoolteacher, became Connecticut’s first black congresswomen.
  • Young Kim of California became the first Korean American woman in Congress.
  • Marsha Blackburn became Tennessee’s first woman elected to the Senate.
  • Janet Mills in Maine, Kim Reynolds in Iowa, and Kristi Noem in South Dakota became the first female governors for their states.

The 2018 election cycle was also the first following the defeat of the first woman presidential candidate of a major party. In this cycle, many women saw a need to change the status quo and volunteered to run without being recruited. They also ran differently. Instead of putting on the power suit and spouting resume talking points, they featured their children in ads, offered personal testimony about sexual harassment and abuse, and opened up about family struggles, drug abuse and debt. Their openness connected with many facing the same struggles, and their authenticity paid off.

According to figures compiled by the Center for American Progress in November 2018:

  • A record number – at least 126 women so far ­– have won seats in the US Congress (three races remain uncalled by the Associated Press).
  • A historic high of 43 women of color were elected to Congress, along with at least three who identify as LGBTQ.
  • The number of women serving in state legislatures will exceed 2,000 for the first time ever.
  • The number of women governors rose by 50 percent, from six to nine.

More Gains to be Made

These are exciting numbers and historic wins, but we clearly still have a significant leadership gap. As of January 2019, women will still represent less than one fourth of members of Congress, both in the House and the Senate. Although they will hold 28 percent of seats in state legislatures, women hold only 18 percent of governorships, and, as of August 2018, are less than a quarter of the mayors of America’s 100 largest cities. To be clear, women make up slightly more than one half the population.

We must continue our support of women doing the hard work of holding elected office and encourage women to run and especially to run again. One defeat means nothing in a political career. EMILY’s List, VoteRunLead, and She Should Run all reported a huge surge in women interested in running in this cycle. These women who mustered their courage demonstrated that women are truly ready to lead, and that the people are ready to elect them in their communities, states, and nation. We need to celebrate these women who are paving the way, and help others follow their lead.

We can also encourage and inspire our daughters, granddaughters, and young women in our communities. There are a number of organizations that will make good use of our time, talent and treasure. For example, Girls Inc. has chapters nationwide and works to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold. The Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers has an initiative dedicated to making women’s public leadership visible to the next generation, with programs set up nationwide, called Teach a Girl to LeadTM. The Sue Shear Institute for Women in Public Life at University of Missouri St. Louis prepares college women and has even hosted a Girls’ Summit for middle schoolers.  Ask around in your community for opportunities to mentor and engage at a local level, and if you don’t find any, join with other women to start one.

Ultimately, we want 2018’s “Pink Wave” to close the leadership gap and make our voices heard on every level. Women leaders change the game. We do indeed need at least half our leaders to be women, and by working together we can make it happen. Just think how that will change our country and the world!

We Need Male Allies to Help Us Get Ahead

Male AlliesFor gender parity to succeed, we need male allies at every level of government, in the workplace, and the communities we call home. The main argument for achieving women’s parity is that you only get half the results when you engage half of the population. So doesn’t it make sense, that the same is true in working for parity itself? It should be obvious that we’ll get there faster if we all work together, but the system that rewards sexism in the workplace and our communities is strong and works against us to keep the status quo itself working against closing the wage gap, assuming our fair share of leadership positions and achieving full equality.  We must engage men (the other half of the population) in new ways, make them feel like they belong and help them understand their own benefits from women’s advancement, and shift their perspective of how they can help us get ahead.

Men often don’t see the disparities, despite the fact that they have a larger stake in women’s equality than in the past. Many men today count on the financial contribution their wives make to the family economy, and they were likely raised by women who worked. They also want their daughters to succeed and will express outrage when the women in their lives encounter discrimination or barriers at work. But that personal perspective needs to be widened to a world view for them to truly understand the value of gender parity.

Include Men In Gender Equity Discussions

To help our male counterparts become more aware and include them in discussions around gender equity in the workplace, Harvard Business Review (HBR) reports that some women’s conferences and employee resource groups are changing their approach by creating events aimed at men, and inviting them to attend. Their approach is based on evidence which shows that when men are deliberately engaged in gender inclusion programs, 96% of organizations see progress – compared to only 30% of organizations where men are not engaged.

Do the math, an organization has a 66% greater chance of succeeding if men are “deliberately engaged.” That’s huge. In fact, this discrepancy illustrates that if we don’t work with men, significant progress is doubtful, and gender inclusion programs will likely fail.

The evidence for parity just keeps multiplying. Take for example the pay gap. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) projects that the U.S. economy would generate additional income of more than $512 billion if women received equal pay. And if that doesn’t get your attention, a recent McKinsey study showed that stricter workplace gender equity practices could add $12 trillion the global GDP by 2025 (seven short years from now) with stronger workplace gender equity practices. $12 trillion dollars definitely makes the case for working together to change the status quo. That extra money isn’t just for women. Everyone benefits. Men too.We, yes women and men, need to recognize and acknowledge the gender inequality problem so that we can work together to correct it. Equal pay for equal work is a unifying goal that benefits all of us.

Male Allies Also Subjected to Backlash

However, including men in our efforts to close the gap isn’t as simple as inviting them to a gender-equity event. As HBR reports, these efforts often reveal reluctance, if not palpable anxiety among targeted men. While some research has shown that white men face no penalty for promoting diversity, other studies suggest that there can be a cost to acting as an ally. In fact, men who display willingness to be an ally and behave as mentors, collaborators and other ways identified as feminine work-styles, they can be subjected to the same backlashes as women. It’s called “the wimp penalty.” The HBR reporters sum it up, “Sexism is a system, and while it’s a system that privileges men, it also polices male behavior.”

Diversity and inclusion doesn’t just happen, and while we may have a group of men willing to stand with us, the impact of that system can keep men in their place, just as much as women. Awareness can give us the tools we need to work around it and get men to help us claim our fair share. However, not all male allies are created equally. Diversity consultant Jennifer Brown frames allyship on a continuum ranging from apathetic (no understanding of the issues) to aware (knows basic concepts) to active (well-informed, sharing and seeking diversity) to advocate (committed, routinely and proactively championing inclusion).

Our Male Allies Matter

We need to let our allies know, at all phases of the continuum, how much they matter. HBR reports that gender parity efforts are most effective when men believe they have an important role to play, that their partnership is valued, and that transformation of the workplace is something they can share in. Feeling accepted boosts male allies’ internal motivation to participate and further strengthens gender alliance efforts.

Men are a great and necessary resource in advancing leadership opportunities for women in the workplace. It’s in all our best interests to make our companies as productive and profitable as we can. That’s why we all need to work together to change the status quo and make a real, daily commitment to working together to change the system to one that supports more balanced diverse management and workforce.

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