Women’s History Month:
Stories from Jessica Dumitru, Rita Waller, Aubrey Williams, America Henry
POP QUIZ: What elite body of the world’s most democratic government still has a conspicuous scarcity of women in today’s modern era?
ANSWER: The United States Senate, of course, which is one of the most traditionally male dominated workplaces in American history.
The Senate has an unflattering age-old reputation of being a “Good ‘Ole Boys Club” comprised mainly of privileged rich white men. In fact, women’s representation in the Senate has been dismally low for over 200 long years — even though women now comprise half of the U.S. labor force and earn more college degrees than men, according to government data.
Yet there’s one female former senator who has been an unsung hero and trailblazer for women’s rights inside and outside the U.S. Capitol for decades. She recently resigned from the 114 Congress after becoming the longest-serving woman in Congressional history (House and Senate combined).
Nevertheless, few Americans outside of the Washington-DC area know her name — much less her groundbreaking achievements for women in a legislative body dominated by men for 228 years and counting.
My interview with Deborah Levine is the second in the series inspired by the response to my article, 2018 Challenges for Women Entrepreneurs and How to Overcome Them. Around the world, women entrepreneurs face major challenges, but many inspire us to establish the Golden Era of Women Entrepreneurship. My interviews with these women leaders are truly amazing moments as they “Pass the Baton” on to aspiring entrepreneurs.
March is Women’s History Month.
I had that in mind when I started writing on the significance of that recognition. That is until I came across an eye opening piece, “The boys are not right,” in the February 21 issue of The New York Times by Michael Black. He wrote it in part in response to the recent shootings in Florida where 17 students lost their lives. The shooter –as is the case with the majority of mass shootings in America – was a young man.
Men feel isolated, confused and conflicted about their natures. Many feel that the very qualities that used to define them — their strength, aggression and competitiveness — are no longer wanted or needed; many others never felt strong or aggressive or competitive to begin with. We don’t know how to be, and we’re terrified.
You have an idea, you have something that you want to do, a business that you want to start up. How do you go about doing it?’
Self-Confidence, Motivation, and Inspiration help you develop and grow as an Entrepreneur. It’s about recognizing opportunity, looking around you, and thinking of something that could be done differently. It might be a new product or a new service but it’s about spotting an opportunity in the marketplace. Something out of the box. Out of the ordinary. Often, it’s the most simplest of ideas that really take off.
Inspired by the response to my article, 2018 Challenges for Women Entrepreneurs and How to Overcome Them, I initiated this series called How to grow as an entrepreneur. I am talking to leading and inspiring women entrepreneurs all over the world and welcome men who support Women Entrepreneurship as well. This is about raising awareness. Women need to take the entrepreneur baton in their hands.
Women Entrepreneurs around the world face major challenges but many are inspiring us to shape the future of global business. They show the value of extending a helping hand to others. They support fellow women to rise together rather than looking at them as rivals. They are instrumental in building positivity and in establishing the Golden Era of Women Entrepreneurship.
“Oh, oh…traveling alone on business…with her!”
Another day, another sexual harassment complaint against a high profile man. Will all this result in a chilling effect on the organization in which some men in power will be reluctant to hire or promote women? Will women and men – men in particular – find themselves now reluctant to travel on business with women? With these questions in mind, I decided to repost an article I wrote a while back about questions from one of my listening tours:
“Terry, tell me what concerns many men the most when traveling alone with a single woman on company business. How do men of Muslim or Pakistani or Saudi backgrounds deal with this issue from a cultural or religious perspective? What advice would you offer women and men who may have concerns about this?”
I puzzled over her questions then decided to seek answers from a cross section of people in my global network, male and female.
Here’s what they shared:
“Terry, my only concern is that when I travel alone with a woman, which I do often, do I sometimes come across as patronizing or over-protective of her, particularly in some parts of the world where women may be viewed as less equal, or in some cases where safety may be an issue?”
“I recall a situation where I traveled overseas with a male colleague. We were both married. I heard from others that he would avoid having lunch with just a female colleague on a work day, so I knew he would be sensitive about the issue. We both took extra care to avoid any situation that may be misconstrued or misinterpreted by ourselves or by others. I can be a touchy feely person sometimes with friends, but I made sure to keep an extra distance between us to avoid making us both uncomfortable. I believe he did as well. It was a successful trip despite his initial discomfort with traveling with a woman. I think awareness of the issue comes first and taking steps to put the other person at ease is next.”
“With my Pakistani background, I totally understand the dilemma Muslim men might face and do agree that there are measures you can take that will ensure that the integrity of your relationship is maintained. Many Muslim men and women do not shake hands with the opposite sex. I do not hold this too strongly. I respect women who choose not to shake hands with me.”
“Traveling with a woman depends on whether you are a single man and not in a committed relationship. It also depends on the other person and how secure they are. I know we are talking about business, but I have yet to see someone totally separate the business and social when traveling together. We are relational and emotional beings by nature, but experience and maturity helps us manage both. In case some didn’t know, men are just as emotional as women. We were trained from an early age to manage and manifest our emotions differently. Nothing wrong with that.
At some point during the trip the conversation won’t be all just about business. However, most men are not equipped to handle conversations that venture beyond “How about them Cowboys”. Let’s be real. We men like sometimes sharing a cab, breakfast, lunch and dinner with someone. I can say the same for some women as well. Men are stimulated by what we see, touch, feel, taste, etc. That is why most of us like sports and other interactive activities.
I will also share that most men and women in a secure relationship are not as bothered by traveling with a single person of the opposite sex. The relationship you have with the person before the trip can make a difference in comfort level as well. The more you know about each other helps create a more plutonic relationship.
Lastly, from a religious perspective, as in a Christian perspective, men and women are advised to avoid the appearance of mis-conduct. Unfortunately, we live in a time when chaste behavior in not the norm, thus, for most people of faith, your putting yourself in a position that appears to be compromising is a big deal. Many on-lookers assume the worst before the best. “
“A lot of this depends on corporate culture and effectively navigating situations given your own boundaries as well as the expected norms of the corporate culture. For example, at my company we tend to be a very touchy feely culture and hug a lot. If the culture is more congenial, it helps to be absolutely clear on what your boundaries are because women and men are programmed differently.
“One thing not addressed is the “fear of” factors. Today I do believe women are more willing to stand up to an inappropriate comment, gesture or innuendo; however, there may be times in a person’s career (man or women) where they feel pressured from a career standpoint to “go along.” If you don’t feel strong enough to say something we head down the pathway with warning signs. I believe it’s possible that men and women can, with the best of intentions, end up here out of one of two emotions – fear for their career progression or desire to achieve in their career.
As a long time HR practitioner, I’ve seen both. The other issue, especially for men, is the litigious fear factor – fear of something they say or do being misinterpreted or misrepresented in a complaint about their behavior, or of being sued and having their name and reputation destroyed. Most of this comes down to not knowing how to have open and real conversations at work. I am a subscriber to “when in doubt, don’t” as it relates to subjects like these.”
Some tips for consideration:
Kim is a key member of the Wayans clan that created TV’s In Living Color. The ten Wayans siblings grew up poor in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood. Elvira, Kim’s mother, was a homemaker and social worker who took the kids everywhere, no nannies, and no babysitter. Their father was a supermarket manager and the Jehovah’s Witness in the family. With no background in the entertainment business and little money, the Wayans’ success is an unlikely story.
Long before The New York Times had its first woman Executive Editor, Ruth Holmberg was the Editor of The Chattanooga Times. Holmberg is a member of the family that founded both newspapers and she has shared her compelling life story as friends and admirers gathered to hear her speak. Holmberg is a former director of The Associated Press and of The New York Times Company, a former president of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce and of the Southern Newspaper Publisher Association and a member of the Board of Directors of the Public Education Network (PEN). The petite, soft-voiced woman is also a member of one of the nation’s most prominent publishing families.
Editor’s note: Publishing icon and Chattanooga civic leader Ruth Holmberg passed away at age 96. In her honor, here is the ADR interview with Ms. Holmberg several years ago.