News

It’s Time to Use Your Voice and Vote

US Vote Pins

White women in America, listen up. Do you know that you represent the largest voting bloc in the United States? That means you have both the most influential feminine voice and you are also the most powerful electorate. There is strength in numbers, and you have an opportunity to push the change that we need in our country right now. But despite your strength in numbers, collectively, political activism, even at a micro-level is not your strong suit.

That needs to change because there’s an important election coming up. Women made a difference in 2016 and they can create phenomenal change this time around too. So it’s time to ask yourself: Are your children well-fed, safe and receiving the education they need? Do you have equal pay and the successful path you expected in your career? How are your extended family members doing? Have you been tested yet? Could you be, if you need to be? Do you have representation that understands your struggles and concerns?

It’s time to face facts. Unless you answered absolutely yes to most of these questions and wouldn’t change a thing about your life today, it’s time to accept your responsibility to yourself, your family and your community. You have an opportunity to push the change that we need in our country right now.

Yet even in the midst of an important election season, an alarming number of you admittedly steer clear of conversations about politics with friends, family and strangers – 74% according to Jenna Arnold, author of Raising Our Hands: How White Women Can Stop Avoiding Hard Conversations, Start Accepting Responsibility, and Find Our Place on the New Frontlines. Nearly three-quarters of you get by with a demurring, “I don’t like politics.” Probably few of us do like politics. It doesn’t bring out the best in people. But it does create our system of checks and balances that keeps us living in a free society. And that means we must participate, use our voices to support what we want and vote.

What keeps you silent? Were you taught to avoid discussions about politics and religion? Do you worry that you don’t know enough and might make the wrong choice? Or perhaps, you’ve been shut down in the past when you’ve raised your political opinion, and hate to be criticized and made to feel small for your beliefs.

Certainly today’s divisive political environment fueled by social media is exacerbating the problem. The toxic brew of fake news, uninformed opinions and polarizing content is wearing people down. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, nearly half of Americans have stopped discussing politics with at least one person in their lives.

Whatever reasons, it remains disturbing that an overwhelming majority of the largest most powerful voting bloc in the country chooses to be silent on issues that impact their lives, their health, their wealth and the well-being of their families, not to mention important issues that support the success of a free society.

Even if you’ve been shy about advocacy, speaking your mind about anything at all for fear of not being liked, the one place you can and should raise your voice is at the ballot box. Your vote is yours and no one else’s. It’s the one place you can speak your mind without criticism and it’s your right and responsibility to use it.

This year has been the ultimate litmus test of the strength of our democracy, the facility of our government, the responsibilities of our leaders and the integrity of our society. By all accounts we are failing. A recent Gallup poll found that across party lines, Americans’ satisfaction with the direction of our country has taken a dramatic nose dive. Overall, satisfaction is down 25% since January, with only 20% of the population feeling that the United States is on the right path.

It’s obvious that we need change. And part of the change we need is more women in elected positions. Women lead best in times of crisis.

Women represent 51% of the U.S. population, yet we make up only:

  • 25% of the U.S. Senate
  • 23% of the U.S. House of Representatives
  • 29% of statewide elected executives
  • 29% of state legislative seats

Yet, more women are running for office now than ever. It’s past time for women to be represented in equal numbers in government. Women leaders back the issues that support our families. The 2020 election is just eight weeks away. It’s time for you to stand with women of color and use your voice and your voting power for the greater good of all women and the issues that are important to us.

If you’re not registered to vote, get registered now. And on November 3, come together with other women, use your voice to vote for the change you want to see in our country at every level of government.

 

 

Don’t Let COVID Stop Women’s Progress-Take Action Now

Women's ProgressWomen’s progress toward equality was moving forward at a moderate pace. 2018 was widely considered to be the “Year of the Woman” marking the biggest wave of women elected to government ever, with 2,133 women sworn into America’s state legislatures, as well as holding 25 seats in the U.S. Senate and 101 seats in the House. In 2019, women ticked past 50% of the workforce in the U.S. for the first time during a non-recessionary period in American history. Riding that wave, world leaders, civil society and the private sector had set the stage for 2020 to be the biggest year yet for the advancement of women’s rights. Until the pandemic that is.

COVID-19 has been hard on women’s progress. McKinsey reports that while most people’s lives and work have been negatively affected by the crisis, their most recent analysis shows that, overall, women’s jobs and livelihoods are more vulnerable to the pandemic. According to the National Women’s Law Center, between February and April, women lost more than 12.1 million jobs, and only a third of those jobs returned in May and June. When comparing the unemployment rate for women versus men, women ages 20 and over have an unemployment rate of 11.2% compared to their male counterparts who have an unemployment rate of 10.1%. The June unemployment rate for women is 1.3 times higher than the highest unemployment rate women faced during the Great Recession and the subsequent recovery years, and 1 in 4 (25%) women working part-time wanted full-time work, but were unable to obtain it for economic reasons, such as their employer not giving them full-time hours. The outlook is even worse for Black and Latina woman as nearly 1 in 7 Black women (14.0%) ages 20 and over were unemployed in June, which is nearly 3 times higher than their pre-pandemic unemployment rate (4.8% in February), and more than 1 in 7 (15.3%) Latinas ages 20 and over were unemployed in June, over three times higher than their unemployment rate in February (4.9%)

A patchwork of back-to-school options is another potential wrench in women’s progress across the country. Boston Consulting Group’s recent study of working parents finds that 60% of parents have not found alternative childcare in the wake of school and daycare closures, and with modified return options available this fall, many additional women are leaving the workforce. Whether by choice or necessity, in terms of workforce and leadership participation, that is an action that could have ramifications for years to come.

We can’t let the events of this year stall our progress. In the study, “COVID-19 and Gender Equality: Countering the Regressive Effects,” McKinsey researchers defined three potential scenarios in the post–COVID-19 world of women at work. “The first is a gender-regressive ’do nothing’ scenario. It assumes that the higher negative impact of COVID-19 on women remains unaddressed, and it compares GDP outcomes in 2030 to the case in which women’s employment growth tracks that of men in the recovery. The second is a ’take action now’ scenario, which would improve parity relative to the gender-regressive one. The third is a ’wait to take action’ scenario continuing until the economic impact of COVID-19 subsides.”

The best option for a substantial increase in economic opportunity is to “take action now.” Policy makers would make decisions, in 2020 and beyond to significantly improve gender equality over the next decade. Researchers estimate that the global value of achieving best-in-region gender-parity improvements by 2030 could lead to $13 trillion of incremental GDP in that year and create 230 million new jobs for women globally.

Employers can also take action now. In fact, many are. One obvious action is to add flexibility to the workplace, for women and men, especially in these unprecedented times. And that doesn’t just mean remote work. It can also mean a four-day work week, or shifting work hours (especially now), and moving forward to better accommodate the difference between office hours and school hours, or the “child-care crisis between 3 and 5 p.m.”

In a community where public-school students are headed back two days a week, one healthcare system was recently quoted as saying that they have surveyed employees to find out their needs and are “aggressively pursuing creative solutions.”

“Our most precious resource is our employees, and we know the most precious thing in their lives is most often their children,” spokesperson Kaitlyn McConnell said. “As area schools release their plans for the start of the school year, CoxHealth knows that many of the system’s employees are anxious about what the next few months will mean for their children, and how the changes will affect their jobs. We also know that it’s important to keep our staff members at work and able to care for the community.”

That creative approach and many others are what’s needed right now. We need to collectively take action and keep women employed and in the pipeline for advancement. And we need to think big-picture and develop plans to regain the steps we may have lost during this crisis. We are all struggling with this continued uncertainty. These are the times when we need to come together to help each other through, not allow it to overwhelm us and remember that our progress is important, not only to women, but to everyone’s recovery. We can emerge from this crisis stronger than ever. The times beg for great leadership, and women are uniquely qualified to lead in these times. Do NOT allow COVID to stop your progress. Think of one action you can take to lift women up and create a new year of the woman now.

What the COVID Crisis Reveals about Women’s Work

Mom and daughter in front of computerInvisible women’s work just became abundantly visible amid the quarantine of the COVID crisis. While sheltered at home, Zoom calls broadcast the juggling act women perform when child-care, home-schooling and working from home all merge into the same time and place. Fluctuating back to school plans are happening as many parents are hitting the burnout stage after struggling to balance remote work and homeschooling for weeks on end. It’s hard to remain responsive to your team and meet the demands of what had previously been a 40 hour per week job and educate, entertain, cook, and care for your children. Video calls have become balancing acts, deadlines a family affair, and advancement? That’s too far down the list to even contemplate – especially as many women are often finding themselves finishing up their workday after the kids are in bed, or in the wee hours of the morning, before their day begins again.

The struggle to get it all done isn’t new, but the pandemic has shone a light on the lopsided division of household labor and highlighted the fact that our current path – even before coronavirus – is not sustainable. Monica Hesse recently wrote in The Washington Post that “we can lobby for equal wages, promoting women, and harassment-free workplaces, but progress toward true equality hinges on chores — the diapers and the dishes and the hundreds of other essential tasks that must be performed, even if we pretend they don’t exist.” She also writes that “We shouldn’t try to return to business-as-usual until we address that “usual” has been pretty sucky for working parents.”

Usually, it’s the women that are bearing the brunt of the increased household labor, and that was true before the pandemic too. There just wasn’t as much of it. Brigid Schulte, author of Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has The Time says that there is a whole body of research around what’s called “the mental load” that women disproportionately bear.

“It’s all of the stuff that you have to keep in your mind. It’s just an explosion of details and logistics and planning and organizing. And it’s not like laundry that you can see when it’s done. You only know when people haven’t done it, if it falls apart or where somebody has an emotional meltdown,” Brigid said. “Part of the mental load is also this emotional labor, taking everybody’s emotional temperature, making sure everybody is feeling heard and getting their needs met. It can be absolutely exhausting. And when people don’t see it and don’t recognize it and don’t value it, it can be very demoralizing.”

The levels of emotional labor during the pandemic have skyrocketed. Employees are always parenting now, and moms are always working. Researchers at the Council on Contemporary Families found that the number of couples who reported sharing housework had grown by 58 percent during the pandemic, from 26 to 41 percent, and while that increase is notable, we’ve still got a way to go. According to Boston Consulting Group, women are tackling 15 hours more of domestic labor per week than their spouses, and a United Nations policy brief on the impact of COVID-19 on women warned that “even the limited gains made in the past decades are at risk of being rolled back.”

To keep things moving forward, we need to look at the opportunities the current state of affairs presents, discover ways we can reshape the workplace to be more supportive, and look at how that will impact families and gender equality. While labor inequalities in the household have been problematic, they’ve also oftentimes started conversations – at home and at work. In a survey recently conducted for Catalyst, 71 percent of working people said they believe COVID-19 will have a positive impact on gender equality in the workplace. In the same survey, 39 percent of people said they see their company “taking steps after the pandemic to enhance gender equity as a priority in the workplace.”

Flexibility should now become a built-in feature of how we work, for women and men, and that doesn’t just mean remote work. Alison Goldman writes in The Lily that flexibility can also mean a four-day work week, or shifting work hours (especially now), and moving forward to better accommodate the difference between office hours and school hours, or the “child-care crisis between 3 and 5 p.m.” She also quoted Manon DeFelice, founder and chief executive of Inkwell as saying, “There’s a whole spectrum of what flexibility can be, and I think it’s up to the company to decide for each role what they’re willing to allow for in terms of flexibility and what those managers are willing to allow for that flexibility.”

Whether at home or in the office, and whether our kids go back to school or not, we need to remember that are connected more than ever before, and navigating these uncharted waters together. We can still support one another in the workplace; we can drop off groceries for a neighbor if we go out, or we can share resources and entertainment ideas for our children with one another. We can lean on one another virtually and should try to use electronic means to connect with another woman every day. Community matters. And most importantly, keep in mind that we are all struggling with this continued uncertainty. These are the times when we need to come together as a community to help each other through. Remember, we’re all in this together.

Together in This Time of Crisis

Together in This Time of Crisis“It starts with self-examination and listening to those whose lives are different from our own. It ends with justice, compassion, and empathy that manifests in our lives and on our streets.” – Michelle Obama

This last week has been difficult. The country is reeling. We’ve seen the anger from racism being ignored for too long spill out into the streets in the form of protest. Right now, it would be easy for us to turn away and ignore the pain and rage that is exploding in our cities. It would be easy for us to feel uncomfortable and overwhelmed by what is happening. But what we need, instead, is to come together in support and unity. We need to stand with our Black and brown sisters and brothers, so that we can make sure we are lifting our country up toward equality and justice.

This goes far deeper than you may imagine. Several doctors’ groups — the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association, and American College of Physicians — are emphasizing that racism is a public health issue and they’re calling for police brutality to stop. The American Psychological Association has also issued a statement calling racism a pandemic.

“We are living in a racism pandemic, which is taking a heavy psychological toll on our African American citizens. The health consequences are dire,” said APA president Sandra Shullman. “Racism is associated with a host of psychological consequences, including depression, anxiety and other serious, sometimes debilitating conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder and substance use disorders. Moreover, the stress caused by racism can contribute to the development of cardiovascular and other physical diseases.”

Gloria Feldt, Co-founder and President of Take The Lead, recognizes that current events lead to high tensions, grief and rage on top of the coronavirus pandemic, but pointed out that Take The Lead stands firmly for equality and parity, and against racism and injustice. Women Connect4Good stands with them. Racism and injustice cannot be tolerated, and discrimination in any form is not okay.

“There’s a special kind of leadership that the world needs now—positive, inclusive, and empathetic leadership that embraces power as the ‘Power TO’ change the world for the better,” Gloria said. “Perhaps this is the moment when together we can lead from the power TO create more justice and more abundance instead of leading from fear—whether fear of losing privilege or fear of losing our lives. We can change the narrative and show the world that there is no finite pie, and when we help each other we all can have more.”

She’s right. When we shift the narrative and help each other, we can use our collective power to move change forward. Hashtags and online discourse aren’t going to cut it anymore. We have to take steps – literally – to change things for the better, and to create a world that is equal on every level.

Dr. Sheila Robinson, Publisher and CEO of Diversity Woman Media, said in Dr. Nancy’s recently released documentary that we need to focus on the things we can learn from and focus on creating more solutions. “I think that what we all want is the same thing – every woman, every race, every culture, every background – we want a safe place where we can work and we can be valued for what we’re worth so that we can share those rewards with our families. We want our children to have great educations. We want safe homes for our families, and we want to be able to support our partners.”

To our Black and brown sisters and brothers, know that we are with you. You matter to us. Your lives matter. You, your family and your friends make our communities better. Together we have the power TO change the world. We stand with you and are working alongside you for change.

 

Building Gender Equality Instead of Returning to Normal

Gender-EqualityWhile 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.

 

 

 

Hey Superwoman, Where’s Your Cape?

Shakespeare turned to poetry when the plague closed the theaters in 1593, and published his popular poem, Venus and Adonis. During another closure in 1606 he churned out King Lear, Macbeth, and Antony and Cleopatra. However, Shakespeare didn’t have children sent home from shuttered schools clamoring for attention, emails stacking up waiting for responses, an employer on Slack needing an update, nor vulnerable, aging parents across town needing a grocery delivery.

If there was ever a time that called for you to marshal all of your superwoman strength, it is now.

“Normal” has been suspended for the next few weeks, yet there are more than likely no less than 10 things at any moment that need your attention, and many of the supports you may have relied on are gone. Your daughter’s dance class is cancelled – taking away an uninterrupted hour, your babysitter is also socially distancing, your corner restaurant with quick and easy takeout is closed AND you’re worried about coronavirus, your kids, your parents, your job, and the overall future of everything.

It’s not just maintaining the status quo that’s the issue. According to a recent report from the United Nations, mothers already do 2.6 times as much unpaid caregiving and domestic work than their partners. The current pandemic will only increase those demands, especially when there may be senior parents to care for as well.

Trust that you possess the skills and experience to step in, step up, and lead.

Millions of women will face expanding roles at home as Covid-19 spreads. The Guardian writes that, “Study after study has shown that even as women have stepped forward in the workforce, in married heterosexual couples, women still shoulder the bulk of household chores. (A Gallup poll from January found women were more than seven times as likely to care for their children on a daily basis as men in heterosexual married or cohabitating couples.) And 80% of single-parent families are headed by single mothers, according to 2019 US Census Bureau data.” 

While things may feel overwhelming, and yes, even scary, now is not the time to panic. It is time to work together and navigate these uncertain times. As Gloria Feldt says, “Realize that uncertainty will always be there, and engage people in moving forward anyway. Taking action is always the best antidote to fear.”

Yes, it is time to take action! As women, we are used to being on the front lines, and today we are perfectly positioned to lead the way. Many of you are now working from home where your children and families, in addition to your colleagues, may be looking to you for guidance, education, and care. In the midst of the chaos, remember to breathe, and trust that you possess the skills and experience to step in, step up, and lead. 

Dust off your cape because your skills are needed.

Make a Plan – If you all of the sudden find yourself homeschooling, or moving your office to your dining room table, you’re going to have to adapt. Remember, “normal” is not happening right now, so take some time to plan, set a routine, and try to adopt a new normal.

Stay Engaged – If you are working at home for the time being, stay responsive and connected to coworkers. Whether via phone, text, email, Zoom, Slack or other assorted software, these are likely unchartered waters and connection is more important now than ever. This is also time to take a proactive approach where you can. Whether solving problems at work, or weighing in on community issues, your engagement and yes, leadership, can have a long-lasting impact.

Lift Women Up – While we all be in our homes, we are connected. We can still support one another in the workplace, we can drop off groceries for a neighbor if we go out, or we can share resources and entertainment ideas for our children with one another. We can lean on one another virtually and should try to use electronic means to connect with another woman every day. Community matters.

Explore Resources – Do you have a pile of personal and professional development books waiting for you to find the time read them? Get started. It’s also the perfect time to catch up on podcasts, online offerings, and social streaming opportunities. There are plenty of hours to fill – make the most of them.

Relax and Enjoy – there are plenty of reasons to smile and celebrate the human spirit. Get online and watch some of the amazing arts and entertainment offerings that are being streamed during the quarantine. It’s also a good time to laugh. Trust me, those giggling babies and crazy cat videos on TikTok and YouTube are worth their weight in gold. Breathe through the anxiety and take this opportunity to catch up on life, read books, take walks, and connect with those you love.

Dust off your cape because your skills are needed. These are the times when we need to come together as a community to help each other through. Always remember, we’re all in this together, even when it’s wiser not to actually BE together. 

Dr. Nancy Honored by National Women’s History Museum

Women Making History AwardsThe National Women’s History Museum (NWHM) announced last week that they will celebrate the accomplishments of outstanding women at the 8th Annual Women Making History Awards on International Women’s Day (Sunday, March 8, 2020). Each year, the event honors a select group of women for their significant contributions to their fields and inspiration to people everywhere. This year, the event will honor actresses and advocates Andie MacDowell and Logan Browning, President and CEO of ECOS® Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks, and our very own inspirational leader Women Connect4Good, Inc. founder and President Dr. Nancy D. O’Reilly.

Annual Women Making History AwardsDr. Nancy was chosen for the honor for her professional success and extensive work in advancing women and gender equity. In her notification letter, National Women’s History Museum President and CEO, Holly Hotchner wrote, “We were so inspired not only by your incredible achievements in a male-dominated industry, but by your commitment to empowering women worldwide. Through your foundation, Women Connect4Good, Inc., you are helping create a culture where women help other women reach their full potential both professionally and personally. You are a true role model and inspiration for women and girls everywhere, and by sharing your story and expressing your support for the Museum’s mission, you will help us achieve our vision to inspire others to experience history and amplify the impactful role of women, past, present, and future.”

Previous honorees include #MeToo Founder Tarana Burke; actresses Kristen Bell, Kerry Washington, Tracee Ellis Ross, Viola Davis, and Rita Moreno; SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell; photographer Annie Leibovitz; the late author and poet Dr. Maya Angelou; former First Lady Laura Bush; and Instagram COO Marne Levine.

“The incredible women we’re honoring at this year’s Women Making History Awards are true trailblazers,” Holly said. “They each have played a pivotal role in working to amplify women’s voices through activism, storytelling, business and philanthropy, and we couldn’t be more excited to recognize and celebrate their important achievements and contributions.”

Founded in 1996, the National Women’s History Museum is the nation’s only women’s history museum and the most recognized institution dedicated to uncovering, interpreting, and celebrating women’s diverse contributions to society.  A renowned leader in women’s history education, the museum brings to life the countless untold stories of women throughout history, and serves as a space for all to inspire, experience, collaborate, and amplify women’s impact. As we enter 2020 and prepare to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, the museum will also focus on its most exciting chapter – working to build a physical home for the museum in Washington D.C., where innovative design will bring to life the countless untold stories of women throughout history and become the first museum to show the full scope and history of its women. For details on the award, click HERE, and to learn more about the museum, go to www.womenshistory.org.

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.

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.

$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?

Scroll to top

© Women Connect4Good, Inc. All Rights Reserved.