Most of our talk about women’s career advancement seems to focus on elite colleges and high profile professions such as corporate leadership. Yet there are many jobs open to women who want to try less obvious routes to career success.
AAUW has long been a leader in workplace advancement and pay equity for women.
Their recent research into the higher student loan debt burden women experience due to the gender pay gap found that many women – more than 4 million – view community college as their best, and most affordable, option after high school.
Dana Kaplan’s story of how she succeeded in a typically all-male field is a fascinating example of how community colleges can help women change careers or to gain the skills they need to advance in any chosen profession.
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
Like a lot of recent graduates, Kaplan had trouble getting work in her chosen field — philosophy — after college. She realized she needed a change when she found herself stuck “9 to 5 in a cubicle. I couldn’t stand it.”Or, if you’re an auto mechanic and 2011–12 AAUW Career Development Grantee Dana Kaplan, try something completely different!
I asked Kaplan how she made the jump from one career to the next. “I always knew I wanted to work with my hands,” she said. For a while she considered going into construction, to which people generally responded, “You’re too smart; you’re too pretty [for a job like that].”
This Women’s History Month, I want to pay special attention to women leaders who are making history today. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor is one woman who is not only making history; she is consciously and deliberately doing so—and telling the story.
In January, Justice Sotomayor released her memoir, “My Beloved World,” which provided an honest look at the life of an American leader. While her role in the government is often sanitized, and many people have no idea what the life of a Supreme Court justice is like, Sotomayor reminds her readers that she, too, is a human being.
Sotomayor comes from humble beginnings. As a young girl from the Bronx, she had to administer her own insulin injections. Both of her parents emigrated to the United States from Puerto Rico, and she lost her father at nine years old. At Princeton, she advocated for Latinos by setting up an action group for Puerto Ricans on campus and by lobbying for Latino professors to join the Ivy League’s ranks.
Even though her job requires her to remain dispassionate about her work, Sotomayor comes off a bit more emotionally in-tune than her colleagues. As the third woman and first Hispanic to join the Supreme Court, her individuality in the courtroom sets a positive example. Understanding her own significance allows her to advocate for the progress of other women and other Latinas who need someone of high authority to be in the public scope, to be visible—to be a role model who can inspire others to achieve as she has done.
The UN Commission on the Status of Women has New York hopping with powerful and, yes, ambitious female leaders from around the world this week. Each is making women’s history in her own way.
Today, I share just a few images of events I’m attending.
Are you attending? If so, please share your impressions.
Television anchor and entrepreneur Joya Dass and I celebrated the launch of IMPACT 21 Leadership with its founder Janet Salazar. Joy and I both participated in a lively panel discussion of women’s emerging power globally and locally.
Hillary Clinton’s star turn as Secretary of State exemplifies an important leadership lesson.
Sometimes, you win when you lose. And by putting yourself forward toward a big goal, even if you don’t reach it, you usually accomplish much more than if you had aimed toward a lower goal and achieved it instead. And what a legacy!
Ambassador Swanee Hunt wrote this marvelous analysis. But Clinton summed it up well herself, in this memo sent by the White House shortly after the baton was passed to now former Senator John Kerry.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesperson
For Immediate Release
January 31, 2013
STATEMENT BY SECRETARY CLINTON
Presidential Memorandum on Promoting Gender Equality and
I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.
But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.
In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
My definition of leadership is someone who gets something done. Read on for the inspiring story of Ashley Riley who saw something that needed to get done and did it in her Silicon Valley community. And watch, I think Fit Kids will be coming to a schoolyard near you soon-maybe because you’ll be the leader to make it happen.
As we all prepare to overeat those Thanksgiving goodies, what better time to promote kids’ fitness?
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I thought it would be appropriate to pay homage and give thanks to Ashley Riley, one woman, a busy mom of four children under 11(!), who is “doing it” – that is, creating a movement to bring health and fitness through active play to all kids.
I met Ashley in late August of this year. It was kismet – my good fortune. I had decided to look for part-time “community organizer” work, and she was looking for someone to help with her 5th child, her precious baby, Fit Kids.
Ashley founded Fit Kids in January of 2011 based on a simple premise that healthy activity and food should not just be for the affluent kids on the west side of the Peninsula but a right of all kids – regardless of ethnicity and socioeconomic or immigration status.
“Why?” Ashley pondered, “should a child born on this side of Highway 101 have different access to healthy activity and nutrition than their brothers and sisters in East Palo Alto and East Menlo Park (aka Belle Haven)?
Raise your hand if you were a Girl Scout. Give the Girl Scout Sign if you ever sold Girl Scout cookies. Say “Yum!” if you have ever eaten a Girl Scout cookie.
Many of us have fond memories of Scouting, and I recall the year my father chaired the local cookie drive and stuffed our freezer with twelve dozen boxes. But I’ll bet every one of you said “Yum!” And you have your favorite. I love to curl up with a box of shortbreads, a cup of tea, and a good book.
But who knew these delicious morsels carried within them an unexpected ingredient: death to one of the most adorable animals on Earth, orangutans? Until these two courageous young women, Rhiannon Tomtishen and Madison Vorva, took the issue of unsustainably harvested palm oil head on. Read their inspiring story:
Gloria Feldt: When did you know you had the power to_____? Describe the moment or series of events that let you know you had the power to_____. What did it feel like?
Madison: I knew that I had the power to change Girl Scouts USA’s palm oil policy as soon as I made the connection that unsustainable palm oil which results in deforestation, the endangerment of thousands of species and human rights abuses was an ingredient in the Girl Scout cookies I had sold since childhood. At eleven years old, I didn’t know how I would accomplish this goal, but my passion and conviction led to unrelenting action.
I met Juliet Asante through a most remarkable friend, Eva Haller. Eva can always be counted on to be surrounded by people who are doing amazing, significant things for others in this world, and Juliet is no exception. So I was thrilled when this media entrepreneur and activist, the founder of Eagle Productions Ltd, (an events and communications company; developing and aggregating content for multiple platforms; with operations in a number of African countries), agreed to answer a few questions.
I think you’ll be inspired and agree that Juliet is definitely a woman who is Doing It!
Gloria Feldt:When did you know you had the power to_____?
Juliet Asante: I knew I had the power to change my world and make a difference when I, (as an African girl, at a time when not many people dared) was able to raise money to start my first television show; having started out with only a cell phone and absolutely no money or guidance.
GF:Describe the moment or series of events that let you know you had the power to:
JA: My first major event on my path was getting the part in an HBO movie that starred Omar Epps. “Deadly Voyage,” a true story based in Africa, was auditioned for by the ‘best’ in the industry… and I got the role I auditioned for. This gave me the confirmation and credibility I needed at the time to explore my talents.
The second event I remember, was winning the writing competition to produce a road show for a product to Unilever, and producing this while in my final year of University in another city. I commuted for 8 hours between two cities in every 24 hours for my entire final year at school.
I felt powerful. I felt my mental limitations drop away. I remember feeling like I could do it and I could see the world opening up to me. I also felt that my path was going to be a one of resistance, as I had already begun to see that in many ways, but I knew I’d find the strength to move on. I just knew….
GF: Tell a little about your background, your family and how you grew up, and what led you to your current work.
“Before I got pregnant, I was full-steam ahead in life,” said Carolina Pichardo, cofounder with Mary Targia of the educational and inspirational New York-based organization and website YUM (Young Urban Moms).
“I’d received a partial scholarship to New York University, after traveling abroad and interning at the New York City Public Advocate’s Office and Tor Books Publishing.”
But when she found out she was pregnant, the resulting harsh remarks and judgmental looks threw the slim, stately Harlem-born Pichardo off her track—for a while: “I just became angry. I didn’t know what to do with that anger, so I simply worked hard to prove those around me wrong.”
With some of the same rebel instincts that had propelled her parents to immigrate to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic—where her mother was a teacher and her father a doctor—she stayed in school through most of her pregnancy. She took a semester off after her daughter Lyanna (known as Lulu), now age 11, was born. Then she returned to earn her bachelor’s degree in communications from NYU “with leaky boob stories galore.”
Today I was feeling frustrated. I’d been working hard on a project but it wasn’t moving forward. I thought of a quote from the humorist Will Rogers, one I’ve often used when speaking about strategic planning or leadership. He said, “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”
How often do you find that a great quote can inspire you, inform you, give you just the kick of encouragement you need at a particular moment?
Happens to me all the time.
I’ve long collected quotes that speak to me in various files and electronic folders. I turn to them for inspiration and I often share them in writings and speeches. People tell me they look forward to these morsels of wisdom, encouragement, and power. In fact one friend told me she was addicted to the quotes I post on Facebook and twitter.