Think Women Can’t Have It All? She Means Business Aims for More

There’s big buzz about Anne-Marie Slaughter’s article in The Atlantic rehashing the tired trope that women “can’t have it all.”

Personally, I think, most people, male and female, would love to have this high-powered woman’s problems (She was the first female director of policy planning at the U. S. State Department and is currently a Princeton University professor, author, and public speaker with a professor husband who shares child raising responsibilities).

All of life is about making choices. Everyone struggles. So I wish Slaughter, and others who lay the responsibility on women for difficulties we didn’t create, would quit whining already and tackle the real problems like pay inequity, implicit gender biases, and the need for structural change in the workplace so everyone can have a life and earn a living.

That’s why I’m impressed with an extraordinary group of women venture investors and entrepreneurs at She Means Business. They’ve launched a new campaign that when funded will do far more to create new solutions than Slaughter’s public angst about her personal life choices.

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Flourish Over 50: Gloria and Susan Tolles Talk Texas Pasts and Flourishing Futures

Mitt Romney recently described contraception coverage and abortion rights as “shiny objects” used by Democrats to distract voters from “more important” issues. At a moment in which women’s reproductive rights are being dismissed by America’s Republican presidential hopeful, it is important for us to know our history! For me, the advent of the birth control pill accompanied a defining moment in which I realized my “power to.”

I discuss my life journey—from Texas to working with Kathleen Turner on a memoir to why 2012 may finally again be the year of the woman—with writer Susan Tolles for this interview. The article originally appeared on Susan’s website Flourish Over 50.

SUSAN TOLLES: Welcome to Flourish Over 50. I’m just so excited that you’re here, and I want to talk about your lifelong passion for really empowering women.

GLORIA FELDT: I first had to empower myself. I didn’t start out knowing much about this power stuff. I grew up in small towns in Texas in the 1940-50s, where girls were not encouraged to get an education, have a career, or have real aspirations for themselves. I mean, my family actually did expect me to get educated, but only in order to be a better mother, a better mate, etc. So I really didn’t start out thinking that I had power and agency myself; I grew thinking that the agency was outside of myself. I had to learn by trial-and-error along the way, and I am still learning it.

SUSAN TOLLES: Right, we all are. It’s always a work in progress.

GLORIA FELDT: It is a work in progress. So I’ll give you the real quick rundown of what happened: I was a teen mom; I got pregnant, married my high school sweetheart when I was 15. I had three children, bing-bing-bing, and then I was 20 years old. I think it was the combination of maturity and the advent of the birth control pill where I just woke up. That was one defining moment.

I realized two things: Firstly, I had three children, and although I had a husband who was earning a salary, I kept thinking, “What if I have to support these children?” I had no employable skills whatsoever. Secondly, I was starting to get a little bored and I realized that this life was not as much fun as I thought it was going to be. I, in fact, had a brain and I was eager to go to school.

And so, I finished high school by correspondence, and then the birth control pill came along. It was that defining moment that allowed me to see that I could create a life for myself. I could plan. If I wanted to have more children, I could have them by my own choice at whatever time I wanted to. But if I didn’t want to have more, then I had that option, and it meant I could go to college. I would say that was the first big defining moment for me. There were a series of other moments.

So I often ask people when I speak, “When did you know you had the power to _______?”

SUSAN TOLLES: Hmm, great question.

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She’s Doing It: Chicke Fitzgerald Has Solutionz

One of the best things about writing a book about women’s relationship with power is that I get to talk with so many interesting people about it. And since it seems that everyone is using my No Excuses Power Tool #8 – “Employ Every Medium” – by being the media these days, I have the opportunity to appear on many web-based radio shows, emanating from anywhere, and available for listening, often along with an accompanying blog post, at any time of the day or night. Media that simply could not have existed in years past.

One example of that trend is an interview I did with Chicke Fitzgerald, founder of the business development consulting firm Solutionz and the Executive Girlfriends’ Group (EGG).

EGG is a platform for executive women (both corporate and entrepreneurial). And it’s a ‘real world’ connection, not an electronic one, hosting a by invitation only conference call weekly, on Fridays from 4pm ET to 5:30pm ET. The website provides support to the group and allows the members to connect one on one, ask and answer questions, and to benefit from one another’s expertise.

I caught up with Chicke for our interview on her cell phone.

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Claudia Chan’s Vision: Number One Leadership Attribute

Last summer just about this time, I received an e-mail out of the blue asking me to be interviewed by someone I’d never heard of for a women’s lifestyle website that hadn’t yet been created.

And by the way, would I have lunch with Claudia Chan—who described herself as a women’s lifestyle expert and entrepreneur and former co-owner of a Shecky’s Girlfriend events company I’d never heard of—to learn more about this chimera?

How could I refuse after I read Claudia’s vision, included in the e-mail?

By profiling influential women and sharing their experiences and advice, my mission is to ignite today’s generation of women to thrive both personally and professionally by creating mission-driven lives they love—as well as inspire their necessary participation in, or contribution to the global advancement of women and girls. There are so many amazing causes, nonprofits & companies doing great work for women (domestic and abroad) so we’re targeting many interviewees with these affiliations & passions. They set the example for our next generation that women must help women.

I was hooked.

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She’s Done It for 40 Years: Ms. Magazine Honored for Auspicious Anniversary

When did you first see Ms. Magazine?

I can’t recall exactly the first time I saw it, but I do remember subscribing to it soon after it launched in 1972. I lived in Odessa TX, not exactly the bastion of feminism. But within the pages of Ms., I found women from all over the country saying what I’d been thinking. And I realized I wasn’t alone in feeling that something was terribly unfair about the way women were treated in society.

I also learned about the National Organization for Women from Ms. I joined as an at-large member and located the other five or six at-large members within a 100-mile radius.

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Women’s Leadership Fund of Orange and Duchess Counties

Keynote Speaking Event

Women’s Leadership Fund of Orange and Duchess Counties

I presented a No Excuses keynote speech during the luncheon to hundreds of business women and men.

June 12, 2012 – Women’s Leadership Fund of Orange and Duchess Counties in New York. Luncheon event sponsored by Chambers of Commerce and other groups. Held at Anthony’s Pier 9, New Windsor, NY.

(Click here to read event details)


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Tips on Boosting Women’s Wages

I’m looking forward to speaking tomorrow to the Orange County (NY) Chamber of Commerce Women in Business lunch. I never know which of the No Excuses Power Tools I’ll include in my presentation till I get there. But I always know there will be a lively conversation when I have the privilege of sharing ideas and tips with hundreds of women in business.

Most people would not pass up $500,000.

But many women do exactly that when they start their careers, said Gloria Feldt, an author and former Planned Parenthood CEO. Feldt is speaking at the Orange County Chamber of Commerce’s Women in Business lunch June 12.

Women leave a significant chunk of change on the table by not negotiating as aggressively for their salaries as men do in their entry level job, Feldt said. Being shortchanged from the get-go adds up over time and might mean a smaller retirement nest egg or less Social Security, Feldt said.

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She’s Doing It: Jane Fonda Rocks the Power of Grandmothers at Women’s Media Center Event

“Making women visible and powerful in the media,” the mission of the nonprofit New york and D.C. based Women’s Media Center http://www.womensmediacenter.com/, was on full display Monday night June 4. The evening’s centerpiece was the premiere of “Peace, Love, and Misunderstanding,” starring the incomparable Jane Fonda as a marijuana-growing and selling, tie-dye-wearing, sexuality-embracing, moon-howling grandmother who never left the 1960′s.

The incomparable gossip columnist Liz Smith

Jane Fonda, Amy Litzenberger, Christy Smith

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They’re Doing It: AAUW and NASPA Honor 5

Ever work so hard that you forget to take time to celebrate what you’ve accomplished? I do it all the time.

So today, here’s a shout out to the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and the National Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA) who on May 31 will take time to celebrate six outstanding women.

Women who are clearly doing it for themselves and other women.

These women are innovators in media, advocacy, politics, and business, and they will be honored at the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL).

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Emily’s List Keynote

Keynote Speaking Event

Emily’s List Majority Council Regional Conference

Fairmont Chicago, Chicago, IL., Thursday, May 24, 2012, 9:00 AM Conference · 12:30 PM Luncheon

EMILY’s List is dedicated to electing pro-choice Democratic women to office. EMILY’s List looks for viable political opportunities and recruits strong pro-choice Democratic women candidates to run. Then connects their community of women with the candidates and motivates women to vote. When Women Vote, Women Win!

(Click here to read event details)


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