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Me Too. And You. And Her. And Him.

Every woman and some of the men I know has been posting to Facebook with “me too” – an acknowledgment of the sheer scae of harassment in our culture.

What strikes me is the discussions that come out of the posts. The harassment that we consider “acceptable” vs “unacceptable.” The harassment that started as friendly, and crossed a line because one of the people involved had never before been told no, and didn’t think he needed to ask. The harassment that comes in the form of “just a joke” – which might be a joke if one of the people involved didn’t have to be on the alert that jokes can lead to assault.

Now what?

Many allies are responding “I believe you.” That’s good, but I want more.

Many of the victimized are frustrated, saying “I shouldn’t need to tell you ‘me too.’” Of course they’re right, but since we’ve started this, what can we do now?

While I don’t agree with all of them, here’s a list of 20 things to consider.

Mostly, I think we can be compassionate, and actionable. Vet politicians based on their views toward women and women’s rights. Seek out women when you interview for jobs (yes, it’s a bit of Affirmative Action to avoid the cycle of fewer women in these roles because there are fewer role models and fewer mentors). Don’t let this be a trend, a meme, a just-today.

 

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Why I March

On Saturday I marched at the Women’s March in downtown Boston. Several people have asked me what the point of it was, so I want to share why I marched.

I didn’t march to protest the inauguration, or the US Constitution, or democracy. I didn’t march to try to pass specific legislation or to convince my senator to support women’s rights – I’m pretty sure Elizabeth Warren and Mark Montigny are already on that.

I marched because in her one-woman show Everyday Rapture, Sheri Renee Scott talked about the impact a YouTube video can have on a lost, alone kid in a midwest state where no one understands him. I marched because of the women I see on Pantsuit Nation, sharing stories of life outside the Northeast urban bubble where I live. I marched to show them they have support, and they are not alone, and they are right to demand equal rights and equal opportunities.

I marched for the same reason I write here, and the same reason I work with healthcare organizations. Not because I can change everything, but because I can help someone.

Women deserve equal rights. We demand equal rights. We won’t stop marching. This is just the beginning.

march

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Women in Business in the News

There’s been a lot in the new lately around women in the workforce. Here are a few articles I’ve found that summarize where we stand today in the quest for workforce equality. I think we’re at a plateau, with “Having It All” becoming a buzz word (buzz phrase?), and yet the solutions are still to come.

  • Liz Prueitt is a baker, an entrepreneur, and a mother. She was interviewed about the struggles and benefits in her life, and what it means to “have it all.” Working Mom: Liz Prueitt
  • Ayanna Pressley is an At-Large member of Boston’s city council, Beth Monaghan is the CEO of InkHouse PR, and Jesse Mermell is the Executive Director of the Alliance for Business Leadership. They wrote a guest post on the League of Women in Government about the policies we need to have in place for equality in the workforce. Guest Blogger: Ayanna Pressley on Redefining “Having it All”
  • NYMag wrote about a new study showing the health and stress impacts on women who work and have a home life. The Quest to ‘Have it All’ is Making Women Feel Sick
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What Does it Mean to Work “Sustainably?”

Is this the right work/life balance for you?

Photo Credit: Giorgio Montersino via Compfight cc

One of my favorite principles of agile development is #8: Agile processes promote sustainable development. It’s one of those statements that is all at once completely obvious, and yet incredibly difficult to follow. For every business that promises a “work/life balance,” there is a project that begs the exception, and requires employees to work late “just this once.” I have no problem with the exception. What I see as problematic is that often “just this once” turns into “just once a week” and then evolves into “passionate, dedicated people.”

Here’s the big secret. “We’re looking for passionate, dedicated people” is code for “don’t expect to get home for dinner.” Continue Reading

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Why Not Both?

Last May, I asked my boyfriend if he would rather we spend our vacation in Barcelona visiting my family, or traveling around Ireland with friends. His response was to quote a meme: “Why not both?”

It was the beginning of a new world for us. Every either/or decision became an either/or/both decision. Should we spend the weekend at home, or out? Why not both?! Should I buy a small laptop case for conferences, or a larger one to double as an airplane carry on? Why not both?! And so on and so forth. In many cases, I still choose one or the other, but the phrase “why not both” is now a gentle reminder to me to “think outside the box” and consider other, less binary alternatives. Continue Reading

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Breaking Out of the Bias

Geneva: “You’re racially biased.”
Peter: “I am? What do you mean by that?”
Geneva: “You have fired 5 African Americans, and promoted 2 Caucasians. That’s racial bias.”
Peter: “Well, that was purely coincidence.”
Geneva: ”…Cary Agos was not ready to be promoted to Deputy. Matan Brody was. I was. Together we had 2 decades more experience, but you promoted Cary because you liked him. You fired Wendy Scott Carr, you demoted Dana Lodge – there might have been reasons; there are always reasons. But you didn’t listen to their reasons for staying. It’s about who you listen to. That’s the key.”
Peter: ”Well, let’s say you’re right. What should I do?”
Geneva: “Rethink. Review all promotions, return to a strict meritocracy.”

Last night I watched an episode* of The Good Wife** and was rewarded with perhaps the best explanation of workplace bias I’ve ever heard. Whether it’s bias based on race or gender or something else, it is about who managers choose to listen to. . Some researchers put it down to the Racial Empathy Gap, others to cognitive bias. Overall, while it’s unsurprising to learn that the people we are most comfortable listening to are, (more often than not the people who remind us of our family), it is unfortunate, and it does impact the workplace. Continue Reading

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Lessons Learned from One Year of Freelance

awardApril 1st marked one full year of supporting myself on nothing but freelance content strategy work. It has been a year of huge changes, and I am incredibly grateful for all that I have learned. I consider it a hugely successful year on every level. For anyone considering a freelance career, particularly in content strategy, here are some of the lessons I’ve learned and I’m happy to pass along:

  1. It’s not what you know; it’s who you know. With that in mind, as a one-woman company, networking is far more important than refining a resume.
  2. Continue Reading

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Can Business Women find Mentors?

Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In is perhaps the best book I’ve read all year. It’s certainly the best non-fiction book I’ve read in many years. The primary reason Lean In has impacted me so greatly is simple: Since I work in technology, I work with similar male/female ratios to Sandberg. Her suggestions of how to stop treating myself as second best rang extraordinarily true, and I have already begun implementing many of her ideas.

But one chapter particularly struck me. Chapter 3, “Are you my mentor?” discussed how mentoring relationships are valuable, or even necessary, for anyone hoping to move up within a company. She says that men are far more likely to be chosen as mentees than women, and details some of the reasons why – predominantly, that women wait to be asked for help, where men tend to push forward. Adding to the challenge for women, those who do push forward are often seen as “aggressive” or unlikable, where their male counterparts are viewed positively, as strong, or “taking charge.” Continue Reading