WCW: Ida B. Wells

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In honor of Women’s Equality Day, today’s WCW is:

IDA B. WELLS, 1862-1931

Ida B. Wells, born in Mississippi in 1862, is perhaps best known for her work as a crusading journalist and anti-lynching activist. While working as a schoolteacher in Memphis, Wells wrote for the city’s black newspaper, The Free Speech. Her writings exposed and condemned the inequalities and injustices that were so common in the Jim Crow South: disfranchisement, segregation, lack of educational and economic opportunity for African-Americans, and especially the arbitrary violence that white racists used to intimidate and control their black neighbors.

Wells’s insistence on publicizing the evils of lynching, in particular, won her many enemies in the South, and in 1892 she left Memphis for good when an angry mob wrecked the offices of The Free Speech and warned that they would kill her if she ever came back. Wells moved north but kept writing about racist violence in the former Confederacy, campaigning for federal anti-lynching laws (which were never passed) and organizing on behalf of many civil rights causes, including woman suffrage.

In March 1913, as Wells prepared to join the suffrage parade through President Woodrow Wilson’s inaugural celebration, organizers asked her to stay out of the procession: Some of the white suffragists, it seemed, refused to march alongside blacks. (Early suffrage activists had generally supported racial equality–in fact, most had been abolitionists before they were feminists–but by the beginning of the 20th century, that was rarely the case. In fact, many middle-class white people embraced the suffragists’ cause because they believed that the enfranchisement of “their” women would guarantee white supremacy by neutralizing the black vote.) Wells joined the march anyway, but her experience showed that to many white suffragists, “equality” did not apply to everyone.

Wells continued to fight for civil rights for all until she died in 1931.

http://www.history.com/topics/womens-history/women-who-fought-for-the-vote

diary of an escapist: Dear Mom, I don’t like chocolate chip cookies, anyway.

diary of an escapist: Dear Mom, I don’t like chocolate chip cookies, anyway..

It’s obviously not Mother’s Day, but I read this post on a friend on mine’s blog.  It brought goosebumps to my skin and made me think of my own amazing mother, who resembles this Mom, in someways.  Here’s to all of the amazing Mom’s out there.  It doesn’t need to be Mother’s Day to celebrate!

Poll: How does your company do at representing gender equality?

Off the heels of my recent post, I would love to hear your experiences.

Visbility Matters: Gender Observations at a Recent Conference

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I have worked in my industry for almost 10 years now.  I am passionate about my profession and am proud of what I have achieved in my career.  I have experienced the “glass ceiling” a few times with different companies.  When that happened I simply moved to a different company, or location, and the problem solved itself.  Currently, I enjoy the corporation I work for, and ultimately believe in their vision and values.

From time to time, a few of my colleagues and I have talked about feeling like our workplace can be a “Boy’s Club”.  I have always thought that was something I felt solely based on the location I work at and that my concerns were not a company wide problem. Additionally, I have recently heard more and more about our company’s initiatives to better diversify and have more female leaders in key positions. This excites me!  The thought that my career could be fast-tracked to help diversify our North America leaders is promising and something I am very excited about.

Recently, I spent a week at a National convention for my corporation.  There were approximately 800 attendees in key positions from all over North America.  While the overall message of the conference was a good one, I felt baffled and frustrated throughout the week.  I have noted my observations below:

  • Presenters:
    • Total # of key speakers: 12
      • Total # of women on that list: 2
    • Total # of talks I listened to: 32
      • Total # of times a woman spoke: 7

Within the first few hours of the conference I was disappointed by the lack of representation of women on the stage.  How is that we could have a captive audience of 800 people and only 7 women presenting?

Throughout the week I thought a lot about the term “visibility”.  While I think it is great that companies have programs to support women, visibility matters.  If you want your company to be diverse, and for women to feel there is equal opportunity,  make space for them.  Make sure that you have women presenting and speaking at meetings.  It is that simple, if you want to be more diverse, then be more diverse.  Make a conscious effort to have equality in presenters and information.  Appeal to both the women and the men.  Strive for balance beyond one or two token women.

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