Women’s Equality Day? Not At All!

Featured in Huffington Post – click here for the original article. 

Every August 26, we celebrate Women’s Equality Day. Women’s Equality Day, created in 1971 by the United States Congress, is designated as the date for the observance of the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution granting women the right to vote. If we want to be truthful, we should call it the “Women Were Given the Right to Vote” day because the current name is a misnomer. Women are still not treated as equal.

Women’s inequality is a multi-faceted problem. It crosses every geographic boundary, age, race, religion, political affiliation, education level and profession. It can be found in the healthcare sector, judicial system, welfare system, in every occupation and industry, at colleges and universities, in the entertainment sector, in sports, in the media and in our military.

Discussions about equality seem to be reduced to two topics; the first being equal pay or its real name — unequal pay. Rather than have an in-depth discussion about the systemic underpaying of women since before WWII, the conversation is reduced to the simple statement of women earning 77 or 78 cents to a man’s $1.00. It’s misrepresentative to show cases where women earn more than men as a sign that pay inequality is changing for the better. We are still talking about breaking the glass ceiling, how many women serve as CEOs or Board Members of Fortune 500 companies, when the reality is that 50% of working women felt that their career has been affected in some way by discrimination.

The second discussion topic about equality is the use of the word “feminist/feminism.” The simple definition of the word feminism is, “advocating social, political, legal and economic rights for women equal to those of men.” There is no part of the definition that says anything about hating men. Calling oneself a feminist based on this definition is a good thing. What’s not good is allowing anyone to charge the word with negative and hateful emotion. In our quest for equality, we need to be less concerned with labels or definitions. It sidetracks us from our goal.

Inequality is endemic in women’s healthcare. In 1993, the FDA published guidelines to evaluate gender differences in drug trials. Last year, in 2103, the FDA reduced the recommended dosage of a popular drug because of the harmful effects for women taking a man’s dosage. This drug has been on the market since 1993 without acknowledging gender discrepancies. One of the most glaring oversights in medicine was the study of aspirin’s efficacy conducted on 10,000 men and ZERO women! These examples should be of concern to women, given that many drugs lack information about side effects and gender. Attacks on women’s healthcare under the guise of abortion prevention hurt women for breast cancer, ovarian cancer, cervical cancer and more. In 2012 even a well-known breast cancer organization allowed politics to interfere in their funding of breast health care for poor women.

The most dangerous form of inequality exists in our justice system. According to the Justice Department, 2.1 Million women are assaulted by men every year. On average, three women are murdered every day by a husband or boyfriend. Seventy-six percent of intimate (female) murder victims had been stalked by their partners; 54 % of those women had reached out to police for help before they were killed. Wouldn’t it be interesting to know the number of police officers under their own domestic violence restraining orders, responding to help these women in extreme danger? The cost to our economy, yearly, for domestic violence is over $5 billion.

The change in how rape is viewed is even more disconcerting. In the media, in the words and actions of politicians and in local communities, rape has been diminished and negated. The “try the victim” mentality that we have fought so very hard against has rebounded with incredible force. Sexual assault in the military and at colleges and universities is barely acknowledged and minimally addressed. Over 20% of college women will be raped — more than half will tell no one. By dismissing rape’s severity, it minimizes the victim and desensitizes us to the gravity of the situation. The message being sent by backlogged rape kits (estimates say over 400,000), is that rape is not that important.

Welfare is a favorite punching bag to talk about how people take advantage of the system. However, the severity of poverty’s threat to women cannot be allowed to get lost. Of women who head families, 40% live in poverty. Seven million more women than men are in poverty or deep poverty in the United States. The U.S. poverty level for a family is $15,750 for two people; deep poverty is 50% of that. Because of the constant political diatribe on “takers,” the survival of these families goes by the wayside.

In every industry and in every occupation, women have been affected by inequality through lower pay increases, skipped promotions, less valued project assignments, sexual harassment and more. Corporations need to develop a risk-averse, no tolerance policy for any behavior that does not see women employees as vital, important members of their economy. Inequality’s cost to corporate reputation, bottom line and future earnings needs to become a wake-up calls. And women need to learn how to vote with their wallet.

When will women achieve equality?

  • When we no longer allow every conversation about women’s health to get derailed or shut down by the mention of abortion.
  • When women decide if they want to be feminists based on what the word really means and not a negative, politically-charged, inaccurate redefinition.
  • When equality becomes so important that what we call ourselves is irrelevant.
  • When we fight back against inappropriate behavior and statements in the media and by politicians by calling and writing and voting!
  • When we realize that our buying power and voting power has influence and can create real change.
  • When we assure that rape/sexual assault is taken as a brutal violation and these actions in our military, colleges and universities and small towns across the U.S. have consequences.
  • When our elected officials put aside their political differences and realize that enacting real protection for women in the work force and their homes is good economic sense. And, to show their commitment to preventing the politicization of women’s safety, health or economic opportunity, move forward and enact a Constitutional Equality Amendment.

And most importantly, when women see that achieving equality will only come from realizing that our greatest value is in our commonality as women. The subcategories we have created only serve to divide us. Women’s equality is a team sport — time to play ball.

Posted in Change in our Lifetime

The Real Art of Mentoring

ID-10088178Being a mentor is a practiced and educated art form.  So many times we think that mentoring is imparting our knowledge, sharing how we have performed a task or completed a project. Mentoring is really guiding, allowing your mentee the ability to discover more about themselves, the process they have undertaken and the path and skills they need to develop to complete and create a final product.


The following skills can help you create successful mentoring experience.

1)    Practice ego diminishment.  The experience isn’t about showing how smart you are or how much you have accomplished.  It is about allowing someone to blossom and grow with your gentle tending.  Being overly boasting can be intimidating to someone who has not accomplished much yet and will severely limit your ability to have a mutually rewarding experience.

2)    Pay undivided attention when your mentee is speaking to you.  Let them finish what they are saying without interrupting and negating, hear what they are trying to communicate. Really listen to what they are saying – not what you think they are saying. Ask questions to clarify understanding.

3)    Find the most positive way to say something negative. Positive reinforcement is very important in helping to build confidence.  As important as is positive reinforcement, constructive criticism is also vital to a successful mentoring experience.  Offer positive feedback on what worked and then offer suggestions on how to try some different way of heading towards the goal.  Again, avoid using the words I or me to explain.

4)    Being successful at accomplishing the project is only one aspect of the process. Sometimes, failure is the best and only way to learn how not to do something. While it will be difficult to not step in and fix everything, many of us will agree that some of the best lessons we learn are through failing.

5)    Explain the big picture.  By sharing the overall project, you make the mentee feel part of the effort. Being a team player will create a sense of belonging and increased self-confidence and self-worth that comes from understanding how their participation is an integral part of the process.

6)    Be absolutely open to and even encourage hearing feedback. Participate in an honest dialogue about the pros and cons of the experience for both.  Keep your feelings out of the conversation and receive feedback with an openness towards learning.  You will be amazed at how much you can receive if you are willing to listen without judgement.  It is hard to do, but the rewards are plentiful.

Mentoring is a huge gift you give yourself. Even more so if you are able to guide and encourage someone to step outside of themselves and try something different and new.

Posted in Change in our Lifetime

Women’s Equality Day

votes-for-womenHello everyone from Change In Our Lifetime!  We have taken a brief break to work on our infrastructure, and we have created the bones of a long-term organization with a few staff people who are talented and committed to what we are trying to accomplish. We are back better than ever!

Yesterday was Women’s Equality Day, a celebration of the day women were granted the right to vote and the 19th amendment went into effect.  It should really be called Women’s Get the Right To Vote Day. We have not achieved equality. Names like this allow us to rest on our laurels, allow us to sound like we are equal when we are not. Recently, I was having a conversation and when I mentioned what is CIOL, the person said  “We have come so far – isn’t that enough”?  I thought about it for a split second – if that, and I said “No, not really”.

Watching events unfold in the last few months, I am struck by history repeating itself. Women’s freedoms continue to be under attack. Sexual harassment is still front page news. And to me, it seems kind of quiet out there. Not enough outrage, not enough participating, not enough sustained action.

If women want their legislators to listen to them, they need to get in the game. Elected officials these days seem to have forgotten that they have been elected and are supposed to listen to their constituents. Allowing our elected officials, on any level, to behave in a way that is counter to what is right for women is not acceptable. Fighting back at the time legislation is to be passed or after the fact is too late. Not speaking up about inappropriate behavior at work hurts not only ourselves but also other women – I know, personally. Action is the only thing that speaks loudly.

Women need to run for office. Women need to speak up and speak out. It needs to matter that we are not moving ahead fast enough and in some cases at all. Women need to economically effect change by voting with their dollars – supporting candidates who support them, shopping with companies who support them, and being unwilling to accept inappropriate behavior and language.

We need to act like we really want Change. Most importantly, we need to decide if we really want change. That equality is not just a buzz word – a topic of conversation for lunch and then put aside for another day. It matters how we act, what we say and anytime we allow the impression that we are equal it is like taking two steps back.

Let’s celebrate Happy We Got The Right To Vote Day – On August 26.

Posted in Change in our Lifetime

How would you answer?

iStock_000009905754XSmallI was surprised at the response to Miss Utah’s fumbling the pay equity question during the Miss USA pageant Saturday night. The glee at which the media went after her is another sign to me of the inequitable world in which women live.

I am curious as to how many women can really answer the question about inequity in pay and provide concrete solutions.  I mean the every day woman not involved women’s equality or women’s social justice issues.

The media, politicians and pundits have created an atmosphere where any discussion about women’s equality is met with the rallying cry Abortion or Feminism! (Feminism is defined as political, social and economic equality of the sexes – simply). The conversation is killed and few are comfortable pushing against the tide of anti-woman vitriol. These conversation killers limit education about how far reaching is women’s equality or lack thereof. When states have to legislate the time a mother is allowed to stay in the hospital after childbirth to protect the mother, it’s an issue of equality, not just cost. Reproduction is becomes devalued. When cities fail to clear up the backlogs of rape kits or women can’t gain traction with the police or courts to enforce restraining orders, it is an issue of equality and of safety.

The recent study about women led households earners being in the majority of all household earners brought out the old adage that working women are bad for families. “Studies” are sited as being the corroborating evidence neglecting the issue that this is the status quo. Hand wringing is best utilized in trying to understand why women continue to be undervalued as participants in society, the work force, politics and academia.

One simple answer is that it is up to every woman to understand our story.  Just a little more than 100 years ago our foremothers fought and suffered to give women the right to vote. We are still fighting for parity, respect, safety. Equality is tender, young and fragile. It must be nurtured, loved and developed.

Women’s equality is not political, it doesn’t belong to one party or one network. Equality does not belong to one group of women but to all women.  It has been said that women need to partner with men to achieve equality.  I believe that we need to get our house in order first.

So back to the question – how many can really talk about pay equity?

Posted in Change in our Lifetime

And we begin

bootsOne of Change In Our Lifetime, Inc’s core beliefs is that issues of gender equality transect everything. Someone once said to me that “Everything isn’t about gender equality.” I would disagree. Issues of inequality undermine women’s participation in military service, receiving adequate and equal access to healthcare (and we are not talking about abortion), being treated with respect and being protected by the police, parity with respect to jobs and pay in the workforce, position in the poverty state and more. We aren’t saying that we should not be proud of accomplishments that have been made, but if you look at the progress women have made, it’s just the beginning of the climb. Tighten those hiking books, grab a sip of water and let’s get started. Slow and steady – but always moving forward. Our story is very young. The next chapters we write are up to us.

Posted in Change in our Lifetime

Welcome!

Welcome to Change In Our Lifetime, Inc! Our 501 c (3) is all about gender equality.  We have been planning, pondering and creating a path for this new non-profit that aims to change the way we look at, define and fight for gender equality.

Change In Our Lifetime, Inc. wants to look beyond what we currently say and do in our quest for gender equality and challenge women to see more, to collaborate more, to act more.  We all have one primary goal  – that goal is gender equality.

But do all women understand what is gender equality? Are we only feminist or equalists or no descriptive word – ists?   One of our primary goals is to redirect the gender equality dialogue away from rigid definitions and beliefs, to refocus on what is important and how we can actually achieve gender equality. We want to educate and reeducate women about the prize we will achieve – today.

We are definitely full of high hopes and aspirations, but we are also hard working people who agree that we all want Change in Our Lifetime.

Join us in our journey – watch as we unfold.  Read our blog, post on our facebook page, share with us your ideas about where we are going – together.

It’s going to be one hell of a ride!

Posted in Change in our Lifetime

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