Tag Archives: gender

A Woman’s Work on Economic Equality is Never Done

This blog is part of the #HERvotes blog carnival!

A divorced janitor, a 27-year employee and the mother of a seventeen-year old son with the mental capacity of an 18-month old, fails to report for mandatory overtime one Saturday when her son’s caregiver could not work because of a sick child. She calls twice and leaves a message for her manager. She gets fired.

As I read about this woman in Reshaping the Work-Family Debate: Why Men and Class Matter by Joan Williams, I wondered what this mother’s take would be on Jonah Goldberg’s proclamation in the Los Angeles Times this spring that “Feminism as a ‘movement’ in America is largely played out. Continue reading

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Filed under Assumptions about Mothers, Current News & Events, Economy, Gender Issues, Money, Motherhood, Remodeling Motherhood, stereotypes, Work-Life Fit, Workplace and Employment

Equal Pay Day: The Wage Gap between Mothers and Everyone Else

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I’m frustrated by Equal Pay Day.

Yes, I think it’s important to point out the wage gap between men and women still exists, and that a significant chunk of it is unexplained – likely sex discrimination.

Yes, I think using a day in April to symbolize how far into 2010 a woman has to work to match what the average man made in 2009 is a nifty way to get the message across.

But Equal Pay Day targets an outdated version of the problem and obscures one of the primary factors behind the remaining gap.

Today, the big wage gap is between mothers and everyone else. Continue reading

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Filed under Economy, Gender Issues, Money, Motherhood, News & Commentary, Workplace and Employment

Power of a Purse: Mothers and Money

So many reasons to talk about money and mothers this month.

  • April is Financial Literacy Month
  • April 20 is Equal Pay Day which symbolizes how far into 2010 women must work in order to earn as much as a man did in 2009.
  • Financial reform on Wall Street is the hot topic in the news.
  • Every day struggles of families on Main Street are the dominating topic in every day conversations.

And one you may not have heard about, but April is also the ramp up to the Mothers & More Power of Purse Campaign culminating on Mother’s Day May 9. While so many are struggling financially today, the reality is that mothers remain some of the most financially vulnerable among us. Across the country, Mothers & More chapters are raising “awareness of mothers’ economic issues through the act of collecting new or gently used purses for mothers in need. The purse symbolizes a woman’s economic power, something we wish for all women, especially mothers in need.”

I highlight many of those economic issues in my book, “This is Not How I Thought It Would Be: Remodeling Motherhood to Get the Lives We Want Today,” and much of my own education on the topic came through my involvement with Mothers & More.

What are some of those issues? Continue reading

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Filed under Economy, Gender Issues, Money, Motherhood, Remodeling Motherhood

Gloria Steinem with Patt Morrison

Love this Patt Morrison interview with Gloria Steinem in today’s LA Times, Gloria Steinem: The Founder. Agree or disagree, she’s honest and doesn’t have rose-colored glasses on when it comes to the status of women in this country.

Favorite quote, “The big step for this coming generation is to get to a place where men raise children as much as women do.”

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Filed under Articles, Assumptions about Mothers, Fatherhood, Gender Issues, Motherhood, News & Commentary

The Day I Was Miffed That No One Thought I Was a Boy

Caster Semenya from Times OnlineOver breakfast yesterday and again today, I read in the LA Times about Caster Semenya, the South African runner accused of being a man, Runner Caster Semenya has heard the gender comments all her life. And even in the midst of our family morning rush, I have to admit to being more than a little emotional about the story, and with good reason.

Just a few weeks ago, I was back home in Minnesota for my youngest sister’s wedding. After the reception, I stayed up late into the night with a few of my friends, my middle sister and my parents and we found ourselves reminiscing about our days of playing fastpitch softball all summer with my dad coaching. My friends and I marveled at my father’s memory of it all. He could tell us things like who we were playing, the name of the other team’s pitcher, where we were, and what the score and count was when my best friend hit the homer that won the game that won that tournament that year.

We didn’t remember all that. But one memory that was vivid for all of us and replayed together that night came flooding back once again these past two days as I read about Caster. One summer, playing in a national softball tournament, a team we beat accused of us of being boys because we were too good.

It was 1984. We were 14 and 15 year old nobodies from a small town in Minnesota in our first national tournament in Salt Lake City, Utah. The other team was powerhouse from Kansas, a regular in the tournament, with sharp uniforms and looking like they belonged there. But we were winning.

We were good, really good. Looking back, I’m still amazed at how much talent we had in our small town at that particular point in time. Our catcher and third baseperson in particular had been playing ball together for years. Together they were wicked good, and as the other team’s runners tried to take their standard lead off third base after each pitch, they would pick them off.  So fast no one could see it coming.

Much to the other team’s surprise and dismay, we won the game.

After the game, there was some commotion, but I don’t remember much until someone told us the other coach was accusing us of cheating, that some of our players were too good to be girls and must be boys. He didn’t like losing. Kept saying we all had boy’s names and looked like boys. Well, we did have a lot of nicknames like Pete and Kenny and hardly anyone was called by their first names on the field, and yes most of us had short hair. And while my daughter today plays softball with ribbons in her hair, you wouldn’t have caught any of us dead playing softball with ribbons in our hair back then.

There were rumors of having a nurse examine some of our players. The next thing I remember is standing with our whole team in a dank concrete room in the back of the center stadium building. Several of my teammates were visibly upset. At 14, the idea that we might have to “strip” in front of a stranger to prove we were girls was pretty scary. I can guarantee you we all remember those few moments of anxiety when we didn’t know what was going to happen next. I was miffed, but for different reasons. I was pretty sure I wasn’t on their list of suspects because I wasn’t good enough.

It was like the opposite of being told “You throw like a girl.” Especially in 1984, it was sort of a back-handed compliment to be accused of “throwing like a boy.” So for all of us I think, we were a bundle of conflicted feelings – secretly proud at being so good, horrified to think we might have to submit to an exam, hurt deeply that someone was questioning who we were – our identity as a girl.

My dad, an attorney, wouldn’t let them single any of us out. We would all be in the room to hear the accusation. And all of us remember watching as my dad took them to task, verbally outmaneuvering them at every turn. Just like Caster’s supporters, my dad and our parents were “outraged by the questions and request for testing.” We all had submitted birth certificates as part of the registration. My dad told them in no uncertain terms that they had no good reason to question us, short hair and superior softball skills weren’t evidence of gender. No one would be singled out, he made clear. If there were to be any exams at all, then every girl would have an exam, and if that happened then they could count on a lawsuit as well. We watched in awe as my dad defended us, defended our right to be that good at softball and be girls at the same time. The tournament commissioner apologized, there were no exams, and we were back on the field for another game thirty minutes later.

That one experience contained lessons in so many things it is still hard to unpack them all even years later.

It was a lesson in standing up for yourself, for each other, and for what’s right and fair.

It was a lesson in bouncing back, we had to play again right away. But we lost, and who knows how much of that loss can be attributed to being rattled by it all.

It was a reminder that much of what we learn from playing sports has nothing to do with the sport itself.

And it was a hard lesson in how deep-rooted and combustible the assumptions about girls and boys, men and women are. Gender is still something people want to be black and white. Anything gray, any behavior or appearance just outside the prescribed lines, is tinder waiting for a spark.

This morning, Caster Semenya’s story flashed a spark on the tinder of my own bottled up emotions. Plus, her story is overlaid with the issue of race too. Some claiming that it is also “another example of demeaning Western attitudes toward black Africans, particularly women.”

So to Caster and her family and friends, I share your outrage regardless of the details, I hope your story gives us another chance to challenge everyone’s assumptions about gender and race and make some progress, and I have one piece of advice…

you might want to hire my dad.

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Filed under Gender Issues, News & Commentary

Killing Two Stereotypes with One Stone

stereotypesA front page LA Times article, titled Testing Obama’s effect on racial attitudes, explores the impact that President Obama may be having on subconscious anti-black bias in America. It’s a fascinating read and highlights the IAT or Implicit Association Test that I mention in my new book, This Is Not How I Thought It Would Be: Remodeling Motherhood to Get the Lives We Want Today (coming out October 15th). The IAT is used by social scientists to try to identify the degree of subconscious bias people have a about a variety of people such as blacks, the disabled, and women.

It’s a simple exercise you can do online right now in just a few minutes by going to the IAT Demo site. I recommend taking both the test on race and the test on gender and career associations. Humbling to say the least for any of us to find that despite our conscious and truthful statements that we believe the races are equal and that women can be  successful in careers and men can be great with family, underneath most of us carry subconscious biases to the contrary.

The good news is, as the article points out, that it is possible to shift these implicit biases. In Obama’s case, the theory is that such a prominent, visible example of a black man who contradicts the stereotypes is shifting even subconscious attitudes. The analogy for mothers and fathers is that the more people see mothers visibly succeeding in the workplace and fathers visibly taking an active role with family, perhaps over time the subconscious associations that reinforce more traditional family roles will start to fade away. So on that front, the more actively Obama talks about his involvement with his children, he can help us knock out two stereotypes at once!

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Filed under Fatherhood, News & Commentary, stereotypes