Politics

Women Change the Conversation with Vote and Leadership Style

With so much going on in the world today, it’s hard to determine which issue(s) will drive voters in the upcoming midterms, and who they will choose to represent them. Young women (ages 18-29) in battleground states are motivated in large part by women’s rights – namely abortion and the Equal Rights Amendment – and are highly motivated to cast their ballots, supporting initiatives and candidates who reflect their views.

“Despite constant reports in the media on inflation and rising prices as the top issues in this election, abortion and women’s rights are actually the most important for young women as they head to the ballot box,” said Katherine Spillar, executive editor of Ms. 

They’re not alone in their rush to the polls. More women of all ages plan to vote this year, perhaps more than at any time before. AARP reports that an overwhelming majority of women voters aged 50 and over say they are certain to vote this November (94%), and 80% of women voters rate their motivation to vote at a 10, with economic and social issues being top of mind. A new Kaiser Family Foundation poll released in mid-October reports that half of all voters say that they are more motivated to cast a ballot because of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Three-quarters intend to back candidates who support abortion rights, compared to 17% who plan to vote for candidates who want to limit access. In fact, 50% of 1,534 adults KFF polled say they are more eager to vote in the midterms due to the fall of Roe, up from 43% in July and 37% in May. Add to that the fact that 51% of voters in states with abortion bans are more motivated to vote, compared to 32% in states that protect abortion access. These numbers may also account for a number of Republican candidates softening their abortion stances in this election cycle.

It’s important to note that while the fall of Roe may make the current discourse seem like it’s entirely about reproductive freedoms, there’s more to it, a lot more. The Center for Reproductive Rights points out that Roe actually binds together an entire class of personal freedoms, all part of the Constitution’s liberty doctrine. “Roe was a watershed decision, and its place in constitutional doctrine does not begin, or end, with abortion rights. Instead, Roe is one in a line of seminal opinions through which the Supreme Court has developed the liberty doctrine as a source of substantive rights. Those rights encompass abortion, but extend much farther.” In fact, overturning Roe threatens the constitutional foundations for a range of other liberties, and women are alerted to other personal liberties that may be affected and how elected representation might protect those rights.

The Brookings Institute points out that women vote more often than men – in the 2020 presidential election, women constituted 52% of the electorate compared to 48% for men. Brookings also pointed out how in 2020, women cast their ballots for women up and down the ticket, calling it “The Year of the Woman Voter” and wrote that the election was driven by the increasingly overwhelming determination of a significant number of women from every demographic. But as the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University points out, “Women are neither a monolith in their political beliefs, nor a unified voting bloc. Not all women are moved by the same issues and concerns, and cross-cutting identities of race, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation often pull women voters in different directions, particularly in the hyper-partisan context of American politics.”

We Need Women to Lead

One hundred years ago we saw the passage of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing and protecting women’s constitutional right to vote, six years ago we had a woman running for the highest office in the land, and four years later Kamala Harris made history when she became the first woman, the first woman of color, the first Black person and the first South Asian to be elected Vice President of the United States. When she was sworn in, we – at last – had a woman in the second highest office in the land who understands juggling the demands of a career with the needs of a family, why you need to choose your own reproductive journey, the importance of equal pay, and who values affordable healthcare, childcare and workplace protections. We need women who possess that same understanding at every level and who are empowered to help make your voice heard.

Why women? According to RepresentWomen.org, representation is powerful, and is a fundamental pillar of a functioning democracy. Yet here we are, in 2022, and half of our population is underrepresented, not just nationally, but at every level of government. “Leveling the political playing field clearly benefits women candidates, but what does this do for all women? And what about the other half of the population? As it turns out, advancing towards gender parity not only empowers women, but also strengthens our democracy and serves the entire nation.”

Women also lead differently. RepresentWomen.org notes that while we have had anecdotal evidence of women in political office working together and problem solving, there is also new quantitative data to support those claims. “The challenges and life experiences unique to women inform their policies and leadership styles, meaning they tackle issues from different angles than men do. By better representing women’s perspectives, we can revitalize and diversify policymaking.” In addition, American University finds that women legislators “work harder for their constituents.” Women also tend to prioritize minority needs and focus on family and healthcare more than their male counterparts.

Women also have a different approach to power, and legislate with their eyes on those they serve, benefitting their communities and our nation as a whole. As Gloria Feldt writes in her book No Excuses, “Culture has taught women that power means “power over,” a concept that has been drummed into feminine consciousness through traditional, heavy-handed masculine leadership. When women re-think power as the ‘power to’ accomplish their goals, they want to own it and use it in an entirely different way.”

It’s a given that we still have a way to go when it comes to equal representation. However, as the issues become more gender specific, it is important to have women seated at the table, who can represent our voices and keep the issues that impact us, our families, and communities front and center. Remember, women lead differently, and care deeply about those they serve.  Congresswoman Cori Bush summed it up best when she said in her acceptance speech in 2020 that she loves the people who elected her and those she represents, and it is with that love that she will fight for everyone in her district. This is why it’s crucial to get more women serving in public office. That kind of dedication and perspective completely changes how we are governed. It starts in our communities and at the ballot box when we elect women at every level to lead us, to fight for us, and to build a country with a government that works for us all.

#ShePersisted Is Fighting Gendered Disinformation Online

Fighting_Gendered_DisinformationThe midterms are underway, and across the country women are taking center stage and running for everything from local school boards and city councils to the US Senate. However, many of them are finding themselves in the crosshairs of online abusers spreading disinformation–spreading half-truths, exaggerations, and outright lies–to knock them out of their races. According to #ShePersisted, “All over the world, women in politics and journalism experience relentless volumes of online abuse, threats, and gendered disinformation campaigns on social media – and things are even worse for women facing intersectional discrimination and bias on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, and other factors. These campaigns are designed to discredit, devalue, and delegitimize women’s political standing, with the goal of ultimately undermining their ability to participate in civic life.”

Sexism in politics is nothing new. In fact, you don’t have to look any further than the 2020 election cycle to see it at work. While sexism may not have been THE factor that determined the winners, it carried weight. Female candidates had to prove their qualifications more than the men they were up against, they had to deal with increased media scrutiny and gender bias, and they faced greater issues surrounding likeability and voter perception on the campaign trail than their male counterparts. All of which of course, was further amplified via social media.

Senator Elizabeth Warren spoke about it when she suspended her presidential campaign. “Gender in this race — you know, that is the trap question for every woman. If you say, ‘Yeah, there was sexism in this race,’ everyone says, ‘Whiner.’ And if you say, ‘There was no sexism,’ about a bazillion women think, ‘What planet do you live on?’”

Social media is playing a part in this election cycle as it has in others, and the impact is much greater than many could imagine. #ShePersisted reports that “algorithms change behavior by incentivizing fake and sensationalized content – over-supplying it to users in the name of profit. This makes it much easier for gendered disinformation campaigns against women to be organized, amplified, and cheaply financed, reaching millions of people and changing the course of history.”

And many offline conversations have also ceased due today’s divisive political environment. The toxic brew of fake news, uninformed opinions and polarizing content online 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.

This is important. It’s past time for women to be represented in equal numbers in government. Women leaders back the issues that support our families. But continued online abuse and disinformation campaigns are preventing many from getting elected. They are not only thwarting women’s runs for office; they are posing a threat to democratic institutions and women’s rights.

To combat this, #ShePersisted has developed a three-pronged strategy:

Research and Thought Leadership

With original, ground-breaking research, #ShePersisted examines major gendered disinformation campaigns, especially those linked to authoritarianism, and seeks to ensure that this issue is recognized as a dangerous threat to democracy. Through their work, they aim to increase understanding of the real world, personal harm that disinformation causes to female politicians.

Supporting Women Leaders

#ShePersisted designs and implements comprehensive communications strategies for women in politics, including tailored training on how to respond to gendered disinformation and online abuse. They are building on the work of the Women’s Disinformation Defense Project, a unique effort established with several influential women’s political organizations in the U.S. Their advice is based on the latest research and tools available – such as Ultraviolet’s innovative Fairness Media Guide for reporting on sexist and racist disinformation without replicating it.

Advocating for Safer Digital Platforms

Women in politics will not be safe online until social media platforms clean up their act. All too often, attacks on women in politics are unrestrained, unaccountable, and go unchecked. That must change if democracy is to be preserved. That’s why #ShePersisted, together with international and domestic organizations, policymakers, parliaments, and civil society, advocate for the creation of better standards for digital platforms, bringing a much-needed gender lens to conversations on disinformation and platform regulations. In coalition with a broad and diverse range of women’s organizations, #ShePersisted is putting pressure on Big Tech to stop the spread of hate and violence on their platforms and protect users – particularly women.

Their work is crucial. We need fair elections – where women are able to run the same race as their male counterparts. We need women to take their seats at the table and have an equal voice on legislation that is restricting women’s rights to make decisions about their health and families. We need to get representation that understands what it’s like to juggle the demands of a career with the needs of a family, who know that you deserve equal pay, who value affordable healthcare, childcare and workplace protections. Ultimately, we need to elect women who are empowered and who can help you make your voice heard.

To learn more about #ShePersisted and help them in their work – putting an end to gendered disinformation and supporting women’s political equity in government worldwide – go to she-persisted.org.

Kamala Harris Makes History

Kamala_Harris_Makes_HistoryOn Saturday, November 7, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris made history when she became the first woman, the first woman of color, the first Black person and the first South Asian to be elected Vice President of the United States. In a moving victory speech, she recognized the historic, glass-breaking moment and thanked the women who came before her – including her immigrant mother – who paved the path for her to serve in the White House alongside President-Elect Joe Biden.

“I am thinking about her and about the generations of women, Black women, Asian, white, Latina, Native American women, who throughout our nation’s history, have paved the way for this moment tonight, women who fought and sacrificed so much for equality and liberty and justice for all. Including the Black women who are often, too often overlooked but so often proved they are the backbone of our democracy,” said the Vice President Elect. “All the women who have worked to secure and protect the right to vote for over a century 100 years ago with the 19th Amendment, 55 years ago with the Voting Rights Act and now in 2020 with a new generation of women in our country who cast their ballots and continued the fight for their fundamental right to vote and be heard. Tonight, I reflect on their struggle, their determination and the strength of their vision to see what can be unburdened by what has been. And I stand on their shoulders.”

Such powerful words and a very powerful reminder that when we celebrate moments of great advancement like this one, or smaller victories along the way, we need to honor the women who came before us and worked to make their voices heard. As we prepare to watch the first woman in our country’s history be sworn in as Vice President of the United States, it is only fitting to look back on a few of the historical moments that helped make this possible. History shows that progress is not made by one person but the collective as we draw together and pool our strengths to lift each other up.

Here are a few milestones that paved the way for Senator Harris’ rise to Vice President:

1851 – Sojourner Truth delivers “I Ain’t a Woman” speech

1869 – Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton founded the National Woman Suffrage Association

1917 – Jeannette Rankin, suffrage activist, is first woman elected to Congress

1920 – Ratification of the 19th Amendment

1963 – Equal Pay Act signed into law

1965 – The Voting Rights Act – designed to overcome legal barriers at the state and local levels that prevented Black Americans from exercising their right to vote – is passed

1971 – Gloria Steinem, Bella Abzug, and Betty Friedan form the National Women’s Political Caucus

1972 – Title IX signed into law

1981 – Sandra Day O’Connor is first woman appointed to U.S. Supreme Court

1997 – Madeline Albright is sworn in as first female Secretary of State

2007 – Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi becomes first female Speaker of the House

History will be made again on January 20 when Senator Harris is sworn in. We will – at last – have a woman in the second highest office in the land who knows what it’s like to juggle the demands of a career with the needs of a family, a woman who knows that you deserve equal pay, who values affordable healthcare, childcare and workplace protections, and a woman who is empowered and who can help you make your voice heard. As she said on November 7, “While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last. Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities and to the children of our country regardless of your gender, our country has sent you a clear message: Dream with ambition, lead with conviction and see yourselves in a way that others may not simply because they’ve never seen it before.”

Senator Harris’ election shows girls around the world that they CAN do whatever they set their minds to and proves that together we are stronger, and together we can change the world.

 

 

 

Every Vote Counts!

Every Vote CountsBy Friday, October 23, more than 50 million Americans had already cast their ballots in the 2020 election. Those ballots represent 36.5% of all the votes cast in the 2016 presidential election, and election day (in case it’s not marked in RED on your calendar) is November 3. Many of these voters were women, casting their ballots for women up and down the ticket, and many other women plan to join them in the coming days. In fact, the Brookings Institute calls 2020 “The Year of the Woman Voter” and writes that this year’s election is being driven by the increasingly overwhelming determination of a significant number of women from every demographic.

Rebecca Sive, author of Vote Her In: Your Guide to Electing Our First Woman President, writes that the best way to counter the forces of misogyny is through political action. She also states that women’s mobilization to the polls started with the 2017 Women’s March and grew throughout the year as women decided to run for office in historic numbers and to take matters into their own hands, which includes marching again.

“When I attended the 2017 Chicago Women’s March, I experienced a movement that was 250,000 people strong, in which almost every person carried a sign expressing a fervent desire for a different world—a world where women have equal opportunities and are treated equally in every setting. Marchers wanted regime change. They still do,” Rebecca writes. “All you need to do to be a part of this regime change is believe that women deserve the same rights and opportunities as men and support this declaration of independence, of women, by women, and for women, to secure life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all.”

Women do deserve the same rights. We are the supermajority, and on November 3 we have the opportunity to make our voices heard and choose representation that looks like us – female! We can elect women from local offices, like the school board to the second highest office in the land. This is our chance to vote for women like us who know what it’s like to juggle the demands of a career with the needs of a family, women who know that you deserve equal pay, who value affordable healthcare, childcare and workplace protections, and women who are empowered and who can help you make your voice heard.

We need more women in elected positions. As you head to the polls, keep in mind that currently 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

One hundred years ago we saw the passage of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing and protecting women’s constitutional right to vote, and four years ago we had a woman running for the highest office in the land. Every single vote matters—your vote matters! NPR reports that more than a dozen races over the last 20 years have been decided by a single vote. This year we can flex our collective muscle and – with every single vote – elect women at every level to lead us, to fight for us, and to build a country with a government that works for us all.

If you have questions, the League of Women Voters has answers. Their Vote 411 is a one-stop-shop for election-related information. It provides nonpartisan information with both general and state-specific information as well as a polling place locator, which enables users to type in their address and retrieve the poll location for the voting precinct for that address.

Celebrate and Exercise Your Right to Vote!

VOTE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Sexism Blocks Women Candidates

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

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

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

Warren spoke about the gender “trap” Thursday.

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

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

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

Push Her Forward and Vote Her In

Rebecca Sive

Rebecca Sive

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

#VOTEHERIN

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

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

“When A Woman Leads, Everyone Wins.”

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

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

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

 

Supporting Women Who Lead Will Make the World a Better Place

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Lexi Jackson Proves the Future Is Female!

Lexi Jackson Lexi Jackson, a sophomore at Washington University in St. Louis, already knows that the only way to affect change is to engage – and wow – has she engaged! She was recently chosen to participate in a Washington University student panel providing commentary of the State of the Union Address on ABC News. She was poised, articulate, and on message throughout Before the President’s Address began, she shared her concerns on how the tax bill undermines the Affordable Care Act. She hoped President Trump would address the issue and follow up with a plan to navigate the elimination of the tax penalty and how to keep health care premiums down, mitigating costs for families who are impacted.
As if that weren’t impressive enough for the young business strategy/political science student, ABC News followed up the next day saying that the executive producers were impressed and invited Lexi to write a SOTU response column for their website the day after the address. “I considered it a blessing from God, to have the opportunity to share my remarks on a national forum and transparently discuss my family’s story,” she said.
Her commitment to keeping health care costs affordable isn’t just an issue for Lexi, it’s personal. As she wrote, “Five years ago, I awoke to the news that my father had been in a severe car accident. He had experienced significant physical injuries and nerve damage. Ultimately, the accident would render him disabled, eligible for disability payments and Medicare coverage. My family’s journey since that day has been filled with more unpredictability and change than we could have ever imagined. Life sped up significantly and we began to understand the importance of immediacy and efficiency — both in the context of my father’s care and in the government processes in which we were now compulsory participants. Ultimately, we realized that there are some things for which you have absolutely no time to wait.”
Her recognition that time is of the essence goes far beyond her father’s story, and Lexi sees a number of issues in the world today that also need to be addressed NOW. That’s in part why she stays so busy. On campus, Lexi is the Director of the Olin School of Business’ first Diversity and Inclusion Summit, the Incoming Director of the student-run strategy firm Bear Studios, and an orientation leader. She’s passionate about the intersectionality of business and politics and the social impact that can be generated from strengthening principal-agent relationships whether they occur between legislators and constituents or companies and customers.Lexi with co-sophomores
The Diversity and Inclusion Summit, which happened on February 9, was quite an impressive undertaking, especially as it was the University’s first. She, along with two other sophomores, realized that the issues of diversity and inclusion hadn’t been thoroughly addressed in a summit setting, and they set their sights on creating an incredible event. With a keynote panel including Arvetta Powell, Director of Diversity and Associate Experience from Build-A-Bear Workshop; Emily Pitts, Principal of Inclusion and Diversity, Edward Jones; Susan Stith, Vice President of Express Scripts; Adita Akbani, Senior Principal Scientist, Pfizer; and Kim Hawkins, Multicultural Talent Acquisition Recruiter, US Bank, attendees were able to learn a lot about issues in the workplace from the best and brightest in the industry.
The keynote panel was followed by break-out sessions, and “Navigating Microagressions in the Workplace” was led by Keisha Mabry, Adjunct Lecturer at Washington University and “Friendworking” Expert. The “Women in Tech” session was led by Kelly Lee, Business Program Manager on the Infastructure Team at Facebook, and Kirsten Miller, Compliance Manager with Uber.
Women in Tech“These issues really spoke to me, and to the two other students I planned the summit with,” Lexi said. “To me this isn’t political, this is a business and a human issue. I’m so glad we tackled this and had these discussions at Wash U.”
Lexi brings a fresh perspective to her work and her studies at Washington University, and stays involved to include that perspective in the overall narrative. “If you are passive about an issue or disaffected by your current situation, then you will never be able to change things. If you are holding out and waiting to get involved until you feel 100% equipped to do so, you will never be able to make an impact.”
“I’m engaged and keep myself busy. I think I’ve always seen each stage of my life as an opportunity to be involved,” Lexi said. “I feel that you should always take the resources available and see what you can do to assist others and actively make the decision to affect change and get involved.”
Lexi has always been surrounded by strong women, and they have admittedly served as an inspiration to her. Her grandmother, Dianne Elizabeth Osis, founded “Springfield Business Journal” at a time when the field was considered a boy’s club and women weren’t necessarily welcomed. Her mother, Jennifer Jackson, followed in her mother’s footsteps, and has not only continued the work her mother started, but successfully navigated the publication through a changing media landscape and grew the company in the digital realm. Since taking over, she also started a communications company.
“I didn’t realize how much my grandmother had done until her retirement party. She accomplished so much while raising her children as a single mother. Her story is so empowering and made me realize that I can be successful in business and politics,” Lexi said. “And then there’s my mom, who took SBJ in a different direction, integrated a digital platform, and started a new company while dealing with the financial and emotional strain from my dad’s car accident. I’ve never been more amazed by someone handling all of that than I am by my mom.”
With the groundswell of women of every generation speaking, and working together to bring about change, Lexi has great hope for her generation, and the mark they will leave. “I think my generation will elect the first woman president, and that is not an inherent women’s issue, but it is a symbolic gesture that will solve some of the disparities we see today.”
“I also think we are going to see a massive shift in corporate culture,” Lexi added. “Family leave will be normalized, because we’re seeing innovators in that space – in all sectors – and these innovators are developing maternity and paternity leave. I think that will lead to more gender equality in the workplace, and that people will realize that women can be mothers and have successful careers.”
As Lexi wrote on Facebook, she responded to the State of the Union Address in hopes that one day she’ll give a State of the Union address of her own. Today, looking at the unique pressures that her generation faces, Lexi feels it is more important than ever to engage. “I think that it’s important to make a difference no matter who or where you are. If there weren’t challenges, there wouldn’t be the incentive to speak out.  I have a voice, and I plan to use it.”
We look forward to listening. Watching Lexi take her first steps as a strong woman to impact change is inspiring. Women who make a difference are driven by passion and Lexi is already demonstrating that she has what it takes to change history and maybe even one day, deliver her own State of the Union Address.

Closing the Pay Gap

Equal PayWomen are making their voices heard in 2018 and sharing their stories with #MeToo and #TimesUp. They are taking to the streets around the world and mobilizing to vote their values in the U.S. midterm elections in November. With all of this forward momentum, women are on track to effect serious change, and some indicators show that closing the gender pay gap could also become one of this year’s accomplishments.
On the world stage, Iceland takes the lead, becoming the first country in the world to make it illegal to pay men more than women for doing the same job. The new rules stipulate that all companies and government agencies employing at least 25 people will have to obtain government certification of their equal-pay policies. Employers will face fines if they are found to be in violation. The current gender pay gap in Iceland is about 14% to 18%, which the government reportedly plans to eradicate by 2022.
In the U.S. the private sector and many state agencies are starting to step up. Amazon is aligning its policies with those of Google, Facebook, and Cisco, who are now legally banned from asking prospective hires in California about their salary histories, thanks to a new law that took effect on January 1. The law currently applies only to employees in California, but most of the companies have proactively applied the law to all of their U.S. hires. Massachusetts, Oregon, Philadelphia, New York City, and San Francisco have passed similar laws over the past couple of years as well. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy just signed an executive order banning state agencies—though not private companies—from asking about salary histories. (The rule takes effect on Feb. 1). New York, Delaware, New Orleans, Pittsburg, and Albany already have similar laws in effect.
This is good news for women, because the goal of removing salary history from the application process is to make compensation more equitable. When an employer knows how much an applicant is currently making, it’s easier to figure out the lowest possible offer he or she is likely to accept. While it’s technically illegal to pay women less than a man for doing the same job, the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year that it’s perfectly fine if the reason for paying a woman less is a low pay rate at her last job.
Eliminating this question from the equation is a definite step towards closing the pay gap. Andrea Johnson, senior counsel for state policy at the National Women’s Law Center, says the salary history question “forces women to carry pay discrimination with them from job to job.”
Citigroup is also taking steps, announcing in January that it will raise pay for women and minorities to close the gap with men and whites. The bank’s head of human resources, Michael Murray, said Citigroup Inc. conducted a survey in the U.S., the U.K. and Germany, and is dedicated to pay equity to attract top talent.
All of these are important steps towards closing the pay gap. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research’s state-by-state research found that a girl born in the United States in 2017 has a life expectancy of 87 years. At the current pace of change, when that girl turns 65 in 2082 a wage gap will still remain in 13 states.
However, that’s only if we continue down our current path, so as my Leading Women co-author Gloria Feldt writes, let’s not. “Changing policy can help and every nation should follow Iceland’s lead, but we also have to change the culture by knowing our value and insisting upon getting paid fairly for it. All that programming that taught us not to ask for certain things, really just taught us to value ourselves less than we value others. The remedy – the one and only thing that ultimately can close the pay gap – is right under our noses, in our mouths and informed by our hearts: the courage to speak up.”
The fact we are still discussing the gender pay gap and celebrating these small, and not so small steps, is both good and bad. Good in the sense that it is creating top-of-mind awareness, and bad that it is still an issue at all. Women have momentum right now, and as we work towards equality in all sectors, equal pay needs to be a priority. We need to point out the injustices, ask for what we want, make our case for why we deserve equal pay, and settle for nothing less.

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