Are We Still Invisible?

Are We Still Invisible?

This is an interesting question to ask in the midst of so many women coming forward with stories of sexual harassment in the workplace. Sexual harassment and sexual assault is a huge problem in our society, and it is interconnected with so many other instances of degradation, dismissive behavior and deeply ingrained attitudes about women who seek equal opportunity and power. I started to write this particular blog post before the #MeToo movement – I planned on simply recounting a recent situation where I was among a few women in a group full of more than 70 male leaders. A very prominent male business leader made a presentation to the group, and afterwards opened the room up for questions. The first hand raised was that of a woman. The presenter proceeded to call on 4 men, all of whom had their hands up after the woman. Finally, when prompted by a woman who was with him, the presenter finally called on the woman who had first raised her hand.

Unfortunately, this is not an unusual story, but it reminded me how often women are still invisible. Yes, it is not as serious as experiencing sexual harassment, but it is never-the-less a symptom of women not being seen as powerful as men. I had a conversation with my step-daughter about this topic and her perspective was that it’s all behavior that falls on the same continuum. It may not be sexual harassment, but to the women in the room, including me, it still felt demoralizing and degrading.

I knew after the meeting that I needed to say something. I pointed out the behavior to the facilitator and reminded him that he needs to be aware of the dynamic in the room. He had not noticed, and was thankful that I had made him aware of the situation. As women, we need to come forward to point out behavior that creates the dynamic that positions women as invisible.

Women will strike on March 8 for “A Day Without a Woman”

Women will strike on March 8 for “A Day Without a Woman”

Amy Bell Hou is a writer, early childhood educator and mother living in Oakland. She is a co-founder of Drop Leaf Press, a women-operated poetry press based in San Francisco.

March 8 is International Women’s Day.

It’s also a day that multiple organizations for the advancement of women are calling for a women’s general labor strike. They’re calling it “A Day Without a Woman.”

The purpose of the strike is to shine a spotlight on “the enormous value that women of all backgrounds add to our socio-economic system–while receiving lower wages and experiencing greater inequities, vulnerability to discrimination, sexual harassment, and job insecurity.”

Women are a vital, often undervalued sector of the labor force in the world. At our paid jobs, women typically earn less than men in the same roles and suffer career setbacks if they decide to have children. Women also typically take the lion’s share of domestic work, like cooking, cleaning, and child care. Such unpaid labor is vital to a functioning economy and ought to be recognized as such, yet motherhood remains the number one predictor of poverty.

At Heels of Success, we endeavor to support all women as they balance careers, partnerships, children, and their own growth as individuals. We hope our posts can help bring more women into positions of leadership, because we believe the goal of widespread gender parity in the American workplace — nothing less than a major cultural shift — is only going to come when women have an equal number of seats at the table where decisions are made.

As such, we stand in solidarity with women, trans people and their allies for A Day Without a Woman.

While many women, particularly those in the fields of healthcare, childcare, and elderly care may not be able to strike, there are still ways for women and their partners to show solidarity.

The Women’s March organizers have set up a good FAQ and resources page, which will guide you through ways to show your support. Read the full International Women’s Strike platform here.

Summary:

  • Avoid shopping on that day, unless the business is local or women-owned.
  • Can’t strike? Wear red to show your support.
  • Men can participate by bringing up equal pay and paid family leave with decision-makers at work, leaning into housework and care work for children, and reflecting on their own expectations of women co-workers.

We’d love to hear your thoughts.

The Female Future: Part 2

The Female Future: Part 2

This is the second of a two-part guest blog post by Heels of Success collaborator, Kaitlin Cleary. She interviewed young professional women asking the following questions:

  1. Are you optimistic about the next generation of female leaders?
  2. Where do you get your motivation and drive to succeed?
  3. What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Amy Bell Hou is a 32-year-old writer, preschool teacher and mother living in Oakland, CA. She co-founded an independent poetry press in 2014. She is a collaborator on this blog.  

  1. I am optimistic. Women have come too far to go backwards, and I think we will prove ourselves as one great element of the resistance against greed, autocracy and division that the incoming president represents. But we also have to remember that 53% of white women voted for Trump. Female internalization of longstanding patriarchal values is real and needs to be addressed in our support networks and peer interactions. As women gain managerial and financial responsibilities within their organizations, we can’t forget what it felt like to be powerless. Someone has to speak for the people who are struggling under our current system; I have hope that our generation is up to the task.
  2. My motivation comes from families. I work in Early Child Development, a profession which has struggled to gain respect from policy makers but that is absolutely vital to healthy, successful, educated communities. Most families are struggling to pay for childcare; a huge portion of their income goes to centers and daycares whose staff are underpaid and struggling themselves. Creating a better landscape of care for young children and communicating their unique developmental challenges to the wider public is my goal.
  3. I’m most proud of my daughter. She’s not even two but I can still say that, right? I’m proud of the self-reflective emotional work I’ve done to be able to care for her and for the children in my classroom well. Having my daughter taught me what caregiving actually means. It is a not a series of selfless acts for another person; rather, it is a process of recognizing another’s individuality in equal measure with one’s own. It is being able to support that individuality for no other purpose than to allow that person to grow.

Kristen Knese is a 31-year-old Senior Marketing Manager at OLIN, a global landscape architecture and urban design studio. She lives in Philadelphia with her fiancé and two insane cats. 

  1. This generation of women has already overcome graduating into a recession and coming of age in a time of war. We’re the generation that elected our first Black President, we helped advocate for huge gains in LGBTQ rights, and, despite the electoral outcome, we secured the popular vote victory for the first woman presidential candidate of a major political party. We’ve proven that we have the grit to persevere and to fight for a better future.
  2. I was raised in a blended family with two brothers, a stepfather with military roots, a mother who worked full-time to rise from a nurse to hospital administrator, a father with a jet-setting career, and many other amazing role models, male and female. As a kid, I never thought there was anything I couldn’t do because I was female. In our house, there was no excuse not to give 110% on everything you set your mind to.
  3. In my first performance review at OLIN I wrote in my five-year plan that I would be head of the marketing department. My boss at the time snickered at that – that I, at 24 years old, would rise through the ranks so fast. But in 2014, at age 29, I was asked to step into the role of Senior Marketing Manger, leading our department. So I’ll say to every woman – every person – out there: writing down your goals works!

Sarah Bellamy is 32-years-old with a background in fashion retail and sales, and is an avid traveler and adventure seeker. She lives in Fishtown, Philadelphia. 

  1. The sense of support I’ve seen among females in my generation (especially after this election) has been amazingly awe-inspiring and I am hopeful for the tiny ladies that get to grow up with these powerful examples of what it means to be a woman today!
  2. My motivation comes from a sense of adventure and my desire to be a “YES” woman. I try to say yes to everything I can and love to experience new things. If it’s something that could potentially lead me to interesting people and new experiences – count me in!
  3. I’m most proud of moving to a new city alone. I really had to dig within myself and be brave to find my place in a sometimes harsh city. I had to build a support group and a new group of friends. I was able to put myself out there to meet people despite my anxieties. Stepping out of my comfort zone and trying new things on my own, has given me a sense of pride and accomplishment

Lauren Moreno is 31 years old and is Co-Founder of Team 624 Communications, LLC a Social Media and Digital Branding agency in Philadelphia. She lives in South Philadelphia with her boyfriend and their dog, Duke.

  1. I do feel like recent events have shown us that we as women are not quite as far along as we may think. I feel a personal responsibility to be a better feminist and to support other women in their professional and personal journeys. So yes, I’m optimistic of the future of female leaders because I’ve been forced to re-examine the kind of leader I am and where I need to fight harder.
  2. I’ve always known myself and what I want. I think it’s important to accept that you’re not always going to be liked or fit in. I’ve learned that it’s okay to be uncomfortable, and to trust myself and block out voices and messages that are not helpful in achieving my goals. I’ve also always somehow ended up working for women who inspired me, even in high school.
  3. I’m most proud of starting my own business. I’ve wanted to be my own boss for a long time, and it’s easy to be held back from making that kind of leap. There’s always a reason not to, so ignoring those reasons and by trusting that I can be successful and help other be successful through my work makes me feel like I’m being true to myself.

Kate Dooley is 30 years old, lives in Philadelphia, and is a Marketing Manager at Offit Kurman, a law firm in downtown Philadelphia.

  1. Generation after generation, women continue to persevere through hardships, achieve the unachievable and attain the impossible. In a time when we expected to break through the ultimate glass ceiling, and subsequently did not, it is more important than ever to be optimistic and confident in the next generation of female leaders to continue the path of growth, equality, success, and greatness.
  2. What really motivates me is camaraderie and a little friendly competition. When the people I respect most achieve great success it truly inspires me and ignites my own motivation to succeed. Luckily I have always surrounded myself with pretty remarkable people.
  3. Obtaining a Master of Arts in Communication while starting and thriving in a new full-time position has been my greatest accomplishment to date. As I finished grad school class by class, credit by credit, project by project, I thought to myself “that wasn’t that hard.” As I started a new job in marketing and learned my role, and made my value to the firm known I thought “that also wasn’t that hard.” When I finished my degree and soon after received a promotion at work, I thought to myself, “you know what, that was that hard and I am damn proud of myself.”

Kristen Miller is 29-year-old music and food lover that lives in Fishtown, Philadelphia. She is a Senior Tax Associate at Savran Benson, LLP and an MBA student at Temple University. 

  1. Even though our society has a long way to go in overcoming gender inequality, especially in the workplace, I am optimistic. So many women I know are either excelling in leadership positions, are filled with the courage to start their own business and are parents to the most terrific children.
  2. My peers are my role models. The strong women around me – family members, friends, colleagues, classmates, clients, members of my yoga studio and community – are a constant source of empowerment for me to continuously force myself out of my comfort zone in work, school, travel, and life.
  3. I am very proud to be financially independent enough to have purchased my first home this year. I’m also proud of my recent decision to go to grad school while working full time, which has (really!) forced myself out of my comfort zone. In my first semester, I’ve achieved a 4.0 and conquered my fear of public speaking.
The Female Future: Guest Blog by Kaitlin Cleary

The Female Future: Guest Blog by Kaitlin Cleary

Kaitlin Cleary is Co-Founder of Team 624 Communications, a Digital Branding & Social Media Agency. She is 31 years old & lives in Philadelphia with her husband Michael and their dog, Chooch.

It’s an interesting time to be a 30-something woman. This election has left me, like many others, worried over the progress we’ve made in terms of gender equality (equality in general, really). I was raised to be a feminist, though I don’t think the word was ever used to describe it. Instead, my parents led by example; showing me that mom always had 50% of the decision-making power and dad was expected to (more than that, he WANTED) a 50% role in child-rearing and household duties. In graduate school, my consciousness around issues like power structures, patriarchy and symbolism evolved and I felt a new calling to try and spread that awareness. As I’ve navigated a career path, I’ve often turned to Madeline Bell, my CEO mother-in-law, for mentorship and perspective on female experience in the workplace. Through collaborating on her blog I’ve felt both frustration and motivation; frustration at recognizing the scenarios that still exist for so many of us (I own my own business but am still greeted by some male CEO’s as “kid”), and motivation through her never-ending quest to rise higher and bring other women along with her.

So where does that leave us? I have found within my network of female friends, there is a supportiveness, a level of consciousness and ambition that doesn’t leave much room for anything other than optimism about the future. My greatest source of motivation and inspiration are my female peers that are fearless in their pursuit of success and equality. I decided to ask some of them 3 questions, in hopes that what you’ll read below will spread the optimism I so strongly feel. This will be a 2-part series, with the rest coming next week.

Are you optimistic about the next generation of female leaders?

Where do you get your motivation and drive to succeed?

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

 

Jessica McCarthy is a Senior Project Manager at David Stark Design and Production. She is 31 years old and lives in Brooklyn, NY.

  1. Yes, but I think generational divides are less important today. I’m optimistic for women of all ages, ethnicities and nationalities. Through technology we can seek amazing change with access to one another’s shared struggles, dreams, and successes that would have been impossible less than 30 years ago. I have hope that this ability to share will empower women in unprecedented ways and that we’ll be strongest and loudest together.
  2. My ambition comes from a desire to be at peace with myself, knowing that if I’ve given 110% and enjoyed the journey, I think (and hope) I will be satisfied with any outcome in work, and in life.
  3. I’m most proud of paving my own way, by rules I had to make up as I went along. My choice to pursue work in the events industry was surprising to my family and friends. I had always said I wanted to be a lawyer or work in foreign service, but I took a chance on doing something that inspired and excited me. My mother always said to do what you love to do, be the best you can be at it and success will find you. I believe her!

Christine Davison is 35 years old and is the Associate Director for Human Subjects Protection at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA.  She holds a Master of Bioethics degree from the University of Pennsylvania and is a Certified IRB Professional (CIP).

  1. I’m optimistic about the next generation of female leaders, but I’m pessimistic about society. The structural inequalities and societal expectations that have prevented many women from reaching the highest levels of leadership continue to exist. Without concrete laws and policies in place to keep women from being discriminated against in the workplace, I fear that it will be difficult for women to reach their full potential as leaders. I’m hopeful that as more and more women obtain leadership roles at their companies and institutions (including in government), these obstacles will begin to break down.
  2. I think my drive comes from my desire for continuous improvement, whether I’m improving my own skill set or making a process at the office more efficient. It’s very difficult for me to accept the status quo (no matter what the setting) when it can always be improved upon.
  3. In October I completed an Ironman triathlon, which I’m very proud of, but I’m even more proud of learning how to swim. Although it’s a physical challenge to complete an Ironman, the mental challenge of training was the most difficult part, particularly when it came to swimming. It’s a total cliché, but it really wasn’t about the race for me, but the hours and hours of training time I’d put in to gain the endurance (physical and mental) necessary to complete the race. I’m already signed up for another Ironman race next year!

KC Sledd is 30 years old and is a Senior Manager of Strategy at Atlantic Media Strategies, the digital consultancy of The Atlantic. She holds a Master’s degree in PR & Corporate Communications from Georgetown University. She lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband and two cats.

  1. It’s sometimes so tough to feel optimistic about gender parity in the workforce when you see the statistics of women in senior-level positions. But I look around at the women I work with, went to school with and who I am friends with, and I think that there is absolutely zero chance of stopping them from achieving their goals. It’s when it gets personal that I know we can defy the statistics that say “you can’t.”
  2. Even with a few crushing moments of doubt, I’ve never questioned that I can succeed. I’m a Capricorn, and I’ve internalized that I will keep climbing to the top of whatever challenge I’m looking to overcome. If you tell yourself you can’t fail enough times, you will make it your inner dialogue and it will come true. Fake it ’til you make it is so real.
  3. In one day this summer I interviewed Diane von Furstenberg in the morning and won the Washington Women in Public Relations’ Emerging Leaders Award that night. It’s going to be hard to top that.

Caitlin Campbell is 26 years old and a Senior Marketing Communications Coordinator at EMC Outdoor. She currently lives in Philadelphia, PA.

  1. I am very optimistic about the next generation of females. I believe that women encouraging other women to achieve their dreams is more prevalent than ever. Books, podcasts, blogs, peer-to-peer mentoring are all instances where I see women leaders providing a support system to foster the upcoming generations of women in almost all industries.
  2. My mother is the root of my ambition, drive and motivation to succeed. She is one of the most brilliant, hardworking, capable, strategic, caring, driven, resourceful and determined people I have ever met. She not only reached the top of her company, but did it while caring for two daughters and making it to every single extracurricular activity. I also believe my choice to attend an all-women’s college played a large role in my desire to succeed. I attended Stephens College in the heart of Missouri. In my freshman year I joined Kappa Delta Sorority and had a senior tell me she thought I would be wonderful for a VP role in the next election. It was just what I needed! I ran and became a member of Council as freshman. Success and encouragement in this role led to me earning the role of President the following year. With just a few words from a woman I respected, my outlook on what I could achieve changed dramatically.
  3. I am most proud of a very recent accomplishment at work, where I was asked to join the Operations Leadership Team; a group of forward-thinking, strategic individuals who meet to discuss how to make our company better. I’m proud that my opinion is respected enough to make top-line decisions that will steer our company toward a brighter future.

Rhea Woods is 31 years old, lives in Brooklyn, NY and is the Director of Talent Procurement at Thuzio.

  1. Yes, now more than ever women have the role models and support systems in place to dream big and achieve big as well.
  2. My mom runs a small business (a law firm) and I think having a mother who has run a successful business for her entire adult life had a huge impression on me. I’ve always known I would be self-sufficient and work hard to create the life I want through pushing myself towards success.
  3. I’m incredibly proud of a charitable event I worked on back in 2014. It all came together in three weeks and I was tasked with procuring multiple big name celebrities to attend/perform – what a crazy, amazing experience. More recently, I promised myself that in 2016 I would book a celebrity for a major commercial and I’m glad to say it’s filming today, just 3 weeks shy of my self-imposed year-end deadline.

Cassie Corey is a 32-year​-​old teacher at Mastery Charter School in South Philadelphia and ​mother ​to ​a tremendous and ferocious one-year-old daughter. 

  1. I look at my daughter and feel incredibly optimistic. I know my child will encounter obstacles because of her gender, but she’ll have much more language with which to combat it than we did and I bet she’ll have the courage to make waves. These things don’t change rapidly, but I’ve seen a difference in our time, and that’s very exciting.
  2. M​oney, status​ and ​power are non-motivators for me. Love has always propelled my biggest life choices. You don’t need to look far to find people who are marginalized and those are the people who get me out of bed each day, either to help them outright, or to raise a child who will one day be solving problems.
  3. I am most proud of my years teaching. I cared ceaselessly, and my students knew it. Our kids take anonymous surveys in which they are asked to honestly answer questions about how much they believe their individual teachers care about them. ​ My results were consistently stellar​, and that always made me damn proud. ​

 

Mentally Preparing to be the Only Woman in the Room

Mentally Preparing to be the Only Woman in the Room

[Photo courtesy of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia]

I’m on a train heading from Philadelphia to New York City for a meeting with a group of high-powered people in the healthcare industry. As usual, I’m taking time to review the attendee list and go over notes on their collective backgrounds. I just realized that I’ll be the only woman in the meeting.

Now I’m giving myself a mental pep talk,

“How do I position myself in the room, how will I get a word in edgewise with this group, will they simply dismiss me? Should I practice my power poses in the restroom to increase my testosterone? Remember, keep your voice directed, loud and low.”

Wow, it takes a lot of energy to do this. I’m sure the male attendees are not going through this exercise before entering the meeting.

I’ve always been drawn to the phrase, “chance favors the prepared,” and I’ve advised women many times on how to prepare for meetings such as this. Unfortunately, often times that means more than just doing the background work. For me I know it’s true, being a woman means spending a lot more of my energy on mental preparation for meetings.  Who has felt the same way? What have you done to combat this imposter syndrome? 

Why Are Business Women Still Called “Girls?”

Why Are Business Women Still Called “Girls?”

I often observe things in a business setting that remind me how far we still have to go. Most times, they are subconscious behaviors or comments made without negative intentions. Nevertheless, they catch my attention. A couple of weeks ago, I attended a meeting held outside of the hospital where I work. I was with a group of colleagues and we were meeting with a team of people – three women and a man, representing 4 separate companies. At the end of the business discussion, each person was asked to tell my colleagues and I a bit about their company.

The three women presented first. The third was relatively young and began by blushing and stating that her colleague who missed the meeting usually presented this information. She continued with a number of self-deprecating statements. I sat there willing her to stop criticizing herself and simply do what I believed she could do – present an overview of her company. She finally did and once she got going, her nerves settled and she was fine. Finally, the last to present was the man. He began by saying, “as you heard the girls just tell you.” I cringed and watched as the young woman who finally found the confidence to speak lowered her head and looked at the floor. Frankly, the man’s comment made me feel like I did not want to do business with him. It was a small statement but very impactful to me. Especially just after having witnessed a young woman work up the courage to participate in a meeting, only to be referred to as a “girl.” After the meeting, another man who had also observed the comment said to me, “do people really still call women girls?” Apparently they do!

Would you have spoken up? How do you think is the best way to respond if you are referred to as a “girl” in a business setting? I can only hope that as more women take leadership positions, more men will realize the defeating nature of a simple label like “girls.” I’d like to see us reach the point when women in the workplace will simply be known as colleagues.