As I walk through toy aisles…

I have a few weeks off from work and I am loving spending my days with my son.  We plan little adventures every day but also make sure to take time, slow down and spend one on one time doing art and reading books.


Today we took a trip to … Toys R’ Us…and oh my…SENSORY OVERLOAD.  We don’t frequent toy stores and I try to keep the stuff in our house to a minimum.  I have always believed in owning fewer quality toys as opposed to loads and loads of inexpensive toys.  Thankfully, we have also been blessed with hand me downs and haven’t had the need to do much shopping.

With that being said I was totally overwhelmed with trying to shop in Toys R’ Us with C.  Holy cow, there is so much junk!  We walked through the store and it was hard to navigate the isles.  I was also shocked by the amount of plastic.  Everything was plastic, it was difficult to find any wooden toys.

Of course, I couldn’t resit taking a stroll down the gender aisles.  Everything was as expected, overly feminine dolls, babies, and dress up clothes and hyper masculine action figures, cars, and sports for boys.  I was interested to see that the majority of the toddler and infant toys were fairly gender neutral; kitchens, learning toys, stackers, blocks, etc… there wasn’t a lot of pink and blue designated toys.  It was the older kids toys that really started the separation.  I made a point to walk C down both the boy and girl isles.  Honestly I think he was so overwhelmed by everything around him that he couldn’t take it all in.

We won’t be taking a trip back anytime soon.  I only wish I had thought to take photos!

Visbility Matters: Gender Observations at a Recent Conference


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.


When my son wears pink

One of my favorite shirts that C owns is a bright pink Ralph Lauren polo.  The shirt itself has sentimental meaning to me as it is a gift from a close friend.


Throughout his life, thus far, C has been mistaken for a girl only 4 times.  All of those times were the days in which he was wearing his pink polo.  Now I know that everyone’s child is mistaken for the opposite sex, at some point.  I also don’t have a problem with people thinking my son is a girl.   With that being said, it is interesting to me how people respond when they seem C in pink:

  • A little girl on the playground came up and asked me if C was a boy or a girl.  I told her that he is a boy and she said “but he’s wearing PINK.”  I love the mind of a child because the next question she asked was “Why is he wearing pink if he is a boy?”  I told her that he was wearing pink because it is a pretty color and he likes to wear pretty colors.
  • I had a woman in her 80’s stop me in the store to tell me that I had a beautiful daughter.  I thanked her for the compliment and let her know that “he” was actually my son.  Similar to the little girl, she said “Wearing pink?” and shook her head and walked away.
  • There was one woman who asked how old my daughter was and when I told her that “he” was 18 months.  She looked at me with a disappointed gaze and told me that he shouldn’t be wearing pink if he was a boy.

It is interesting to me how we have such strong associations of what boys and girls wear.  I am not surprised by it; but my spouse and I have made a conscious effort to raise our child in a gender neutral environment.  We want C to be able to run and play in the dirt, love trucks and sports; but also to be in touch with his emotions, play with dolls, and express himself through art. Most importantly we want him to make his own choices and follow his passions without limitations.  It concerns me from time to time that our approach to parenting will cause C to feel negative consequences to the choices he makes.  If we allow him to wear a skirt to school, or become attached to a special doll, what happens to him out when he is out in the world?  I don’t want my son to be teased, harassed, or forced to conform to the gender expectations of a “boy”.  But I am left feeling discouraged after just a few outings in a shirt that is pink in color.

My observations have left me wondering when society became so gendered in toys, dress, and colors.  I can distinctly remember in history books seeing boys in dresses and I know it isn’t possible that boys and girls have always conformed to the gender identities that are the norm in today’s modern society.  I did a little research and here is what I found…

4142bea448bd8464b60c9c6a0d59eb4d Mid 18th century: An oil painting with a boy in a blue frock pink-and-blue-Franklin-Roosevelt-2.jpg__600x0_q85_upscale1884: Franklin Delano Roosevelt as a young boy pink-and-blue-Baby-Bobby-3.jpg__600x0_q85_upscale 1920: Paperdoll of a boy with pastel and lacy clothing08d321c15d60c05b9c76d759ee6079391970: Sewing patterns with unisex clothing

All of these images are courtesy of a Pinterest board that is dedicated to celebrating Jo Paoletti’s book, Pink and Blue: Telling the Boys from the Girls in America.  Jo Paoletti is the Associate Professor of American Studies at the University of Maryland. Her book discusses “the decline of the white dress for boys and girls, the introduction of rompers in the early 20th century, the gendering of pink and blue, the resurgence of unisex fashions, and the origins of today’s highly gender-specific baby clothing.”  She makes many interesting points and shows the flip flopping of what is common for boy and girl dress throughout the centuries.  She also talks about the rise of highly gendered clothing.  She attributes society’s fascination with gendering our babies with pink and blue to the beginning of the medical advances that allowed us to determine the sex of our children prior to birth.  Jo Paoletti writes an intriguing and thorough account of our social norms and constructions around boy and girl clothes.  Over all a great read and some wonderful historical insights. A summary of Ms. Paoletti’s findings can be found here: When Did Girls Start Wearing Pink? | Arts & Culture | Smithsonian.

Until the days in which our gender norms change once again, I am excited to continue to allow my son to make choices to dress himself in the ways he choses. I can only hope that our choices as a family will contribute to a more conscious and open society.

Donald Trump just gave a master class on how to get away with sexism

Donald Trump just gave a master class on how to get away with sexism – Vox.

After hearing and watching the behavior that Donald Trump displayed on the GOP debate this week, I was utterly disgusted in this man and his behavior.  I found a great article on that talks about about how Donald Trump’s behavior is a classic case of dismissing mistreatment of women and ultimately trying to make himself the victim.  Watch the clip, see what you think, the article below the clip brings up some great points.

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace- Not Cool!

I have taken a few days off from posting as I needed some time and perspective to collect my thoughts.  I have been debating back and forth whether or not to publish this post…but here goes…

Last week I was leading a meeting at work.  There were two men in the meeting and myself (as a side note: I was the most senior in position in the room).  Towards the end of our meeting one of the men made a sexual and degrading joke about me.  I was surprised and taken a back by his comment; but felt more frustrated and angry that when I called him out about about the situation, he shushed me and dismissed the event entirely as if it wasn’t a big deal.

Thankfully this is the first time that I have been in a situation like this but I was left feeling vulnerable and disappointed by his actions.  I went through a roller coaster of emotions; I was angry, frustrated, humiliated, and at one point thought perhaps I was being overly sensitive.  It is interesting to me to reflect back on all that I felt during that day.  It truly surprised me that as a strong, secure, and confident female Leader in my company, I felt so shaken by what he said.

On a larger scale this interaction has left me wondering, how often does this happen?  As more women enter the workplace and more and more women earn positions of Leadership, it is concerning that these types of comments and conversations happen in what should be a safe and professional environment.

I found an interesting study that was recently done that answered some of my questions.  I was disappointed to see that, in this survey, 1 in 3 women in the workplace are sexually harassed and only 29% of those women report the incident.  These statistics need to change and I hope that by sharing my story I can encourage more conversations where women talk about this and speak out against harassment.






Gender Roles in our Library

I LOVE LOVE LOVE children’s books.  Some of my favorite memories growing up include listening to stories before I went to bed, and reading books aloud to my Mom and Sister on road trips.  When I was pregnant I could barely wait to start a library of our own and pass on my love of stories and children’s books to my son.

I began reading to C from the day he was born.  We would sit in front of the fire, in his room, or on the couch looking at pictures and starting to formulate words and stories.  Now we have days where it seems that he would be perfectly content to spend the entire day on my lap reading his books.


Recently I started to notice how many representations there are of mothers and their children in his books.  As we read stories together I have become more and more aware of just how many books are about Moms and how frequently a 2nd parent is left out.

This got me thinking… so… tonight we pulled down all of his books.  I wanted to look and see the percentage of mother figures that there are in his books as compared to father figures, or entire family units.


  • Total # of children’s books we own: 77
  • Total # of books that include a parent or family unit: 31
    • Total # that  represent only the Mother/Child relationship: 22 (71%)
    • Total # that represent another parent or the entire family: 9 (29%)

While it wasn’t surprising to me that 71% of our stories, with some form of parental representation, are about the mother, I find myself wanting more diversity in our library.

I think that the maternal relationship is an amazing thing to celebrate and can attest to the beautiful bond that exists between a mother and her child.  However I have also been so touched by the interactions that I observe between my spouse and our son.  Seeing the relationship that they have is beautiful and I wish that we had more books that equally celebrated the strength and power of that bond.

When I think about gender equality, it is important to look at all representations of gender on both a macro and micro scale.  Something as simple as the stories we read to our children can make an impact on the roles that they will one day feel the need to fulfill.  I hope that we can diversify the books we share with our kids and find ways to show them, in the everyday stories we tell, many different representations of parental relationships and families.  Stories in which fathers can be nurturers and deep and meaningful bonds can exist between both parents and their children.

Moving forward, I plan to be more discerning about the books I buy and authors I support.  I am also eager to have an excuse this weekend head to the bookstore to see what I can find to diversify our reading material.

Lean In Circles- Connect with Other Women

lean in sandbergHappy Sunday!  In addition to me sharing observations of gender discrepancies in the world around us, it is also my goal to provide resources and empowering articles for women.  I want to share a favorite website of mine and a little bit about Lean In Circles.

A few years back I was pregnant with my son. I was feeling excited, but also emotional about the changes in life I was going through.  I wanted to be the best Mom I possibly could and I wasn’t sure whether or not staying at work was something that I could handle.  My sister sent me a book in the mail one day, Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg.  I will be honest I didn’t touch it for over a month, thinking to myself, I don’t read self-help and inspirational books.  After hearing my sister talk about the book over a few phone calls, I figured I might as well see what all the fuss was about.

I didn’t realize the power that Sheryl’s stories and research would have over me in such a transitional time in my life.  I found myself feeling excited about balancing career and family, pushing myself harder at work, and feeling more empowered to speak up and “take a seat” at the table.  Without Lean In, I cannot imagine myself feeling as comfortable and successful at being a Mom and business woman.  (The book also talks about a variety of different topics and stories that apply to working women who don’t have children, significant others, etc…) 

circleAfter reading Lean In, I wanted more.  I didn’t want the dialogue and inspiration to stop there.  I was presented the opportunity to start a Lean In Circle through work.  A Circle is a group of women  who get together to discuss their careers and lives.  We met every 6 weeks or so to share stories, discuss different topics, and challenge each other to push our comfort zones at work.  When I look back on where each of us was in our careers when we started the group, it is amazing to see how we are in such different places today.  Since we started meeting, several of us have earned promotions, raises, changed jobs, and one decided to stay home with her children.  We have been there for each other to lift up and support one another.  I know that we helped each other grow.

I highly encourage you to consider starting a Circle with a small group (6-10) women.  We didn’t know each other well when we started but we grew so quickly as a Circle.  It is a great way to talk about women’s issues and professional growth.  Curriculums, videos, and dialogue guides are all available through  When you have a moment check it out.  Even if you don’t have a Circle, this is a great site to visit with wonderful material!


A riddle…

Recently this riddle was shared with me. Hopefully it doesn’t stump you too much!

“A father and son are in a horrible car crash that kills the dad. The son is rushed to the hospital; just as he’s about to go under the knife, the surgeon says, “I can’t operate—that boy is my son!”

I tried this on a few of my female friends who are definitely feminists and activists for women’s rights.  Some of them were stumped but all of them paused for a minute and had to think it through.  While this is only a small grouping of friends, there have been several studies done with similar results.  Gender bias is engrained in us from such a young age and it is hard to re-write the story.

7 seconds and 7%

Did you know that people make a 1st impression about you when you walk into a room or meet them for the first time, within 7 seconds.  Just think about that… 7 seconds.  The next time you walk in a room and have a moment count out 7 seconds, it goes quick! 

Did you also know that only 7% of the message that you communicate is the words that you use.  7%!  So when you are giving an important presentation, leading a meeting, interviewing for a job, etc…  only 7% of what people are understanding pertains to the carefully crafted words you have thought through.  The rest of the message is body language, vocal tone, and non verbal cues.

With these concepts in mind think about your physical presence and what it says about you.  How do you carry yourself, how to you enter a room, what do you do when you are sitting in meetings, interviewing for jobs, etc…

I am part of a Lean In Circle (which is a group of women that meet to discuss our professional lives, I will share more about this group in a later post) and we looked at these very concepts.  When talking about Power and Influence we watched a very helpful video about the concept of body language and power.  If you have 16 minutes, the excerpt below is well worth your time.  It is part of a lecture from Deborah H. Gruenfeld who is a Professor of Leadership & Organizational Behavior at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and also Co-director of the Executive Program for Women Leaders.

After watching this I realized that I was very good at playing high in certain situations but often I would also play low at work.  When I thought about it a couple of things I noticed I used to do in various work situations were: play with my hair, touch my neck, slouch and not sit up straight, avert eye contact when uncomfortable, occupy little space, and doodle on my paper.  I realize that none of these subtle non verbal cues would ultimately prevent me from getting where I wanted to go in my career, but they communicated a message that was different from who I wanted to be.

After some self refelction I made a conscious effort to make a change.  Moving forward I made sure I was walking into a room confidently, sitting up straight, holding my head still, making eye contact, occupying physical space in my chair, and keeping my hands at my sides or on the table.  Through these subtle changes I realized I was commanding much more of a strong and influential presence.  I made it my New Year’s resolution in 2014 to make these adjustments in my non verbal communication and have noticed a change not only in the way I interact with people, but also in the way they perceive me.  I have felt more confident, capable and comfortable.  I have felt more powerful and ready to take on new challenges.  And ultimately I have had more professional opportunities in the past year and a half than I have at any other time in my career.

I hope that this is something you can try.  The next time you are in a situation at work do a self check.  How are you sitting? What are you doing? Are you commanding power positions and playing high or are you more comfortable playing low? What do those behaviors look like for you?  Doing a self check and taking some notes might help you to make subtle adjustments that can ultimately make a big impact.  Good luck!

Mamas with Careers

Recently I had a discussion with a dear friend of mine who is considering starting a family soon.  We sat and talked about the joys and struggles of being a mom and balancing a career.  When we broached the topic of maternity leave, finances, and daycare costs, I found myself leaving the conversation feeling frustrated and angry at the ways in which our nation is behind in helping women feel comfortable with the idea of having a child while maintaining a career.

The first year of my son’s life was both challenging and rewarding.  I have wanted to be a mother, perhaps more than I have ever wanted anything.  I fell in love with my son from the moment I saw him.  Hours after he was born, I was walking through the corridors of the hospital with him.  I was overcome with a fear and sadness that we only had 3 months together before I returned to work.  C and I had an amazing few months and I genuinely enjoyed every moment.  With that being said taking 3 months off of work, unpaid, with a nominal stipend for FMLA left me more stressed about money than I can ever remember.

After returning to work, I found myself thinking of C all the time.  The weekends couldn’t come soon enough and there were never enough hours in the day.  There were times where I cried the whole way to, or from work, and just couldn’t bear the thought of leaving my son.  C usually wanted to go to bed at night between 6 and 7 pm which gave us anywhere between 15 minutes to an hour during weekdays to see one another.  Additionally, I had committed to breastfeeding C for a year and I didn’t want to give up on that important goal of mine.  However the commitment to pumping before work, 3 times during work, and then again before bed to have enough supply was exhausting and a challenge every day.  I was constantly worried about producing enough milk, and dedicated so much time to making food for my son.  I should also mention that C didn’t like to sleep much.  He woke frequently throughout the night and didn’t sleep through the night until after he turned one.  Almost every night was a challenge for us.  There were several days I went into work having slept 2, 3, or 4 hours at most.  With C being in daycare, my spouse and I experienced the adjustment that comes with daycare costs and the added bonus of the amount of germs C was around.  C was sick fairly frequently and we were shuffling schedules to see who could stay home with him.  As a parent who feels vaccinations are important, it was so hard for me to send C to school for 3 months knowing that his full rounds of vaccines wouldn’t be completed until he was 6 months of age.

I don’t write any of this to complain or to minimize the experiences of other mother’s.  I cannot begin to imagine parenting on one income, working multiple jobs, or the myriad of other situations that families are in.  With that being said, speaking from my own experience, I can remember, all too well, the distinct feeling that this is B.S.  In the grand scheme of things the expectation of mother’s and the time in which they are given to have a baby, transition them into the world, and then return to their careers feels impossible at times.  It feels as though we aren’t set up for success.  I have always wanted to maintain a career and have a family but have never understood why we make it so hard?  When we talk about promoting women, equality and keeping women in the workforce this is a huge gap in our system.

When I have had had conversations about this with other mother’s, and women, in my life I constantly hear mention of other countries, their policies, and how far behind we are in the U.S.  In order to demystify this very concept I wanted to share what other countries offer with regards to paid parental leave, either maternal or paternal. I am staggered by what I see below.  How are we the only developed country to have this problem? 

Thank you for taking the time to read through my experience.  I would love to hear your story and invite you to share your comments with me.  I also would love to hear from anyone with suggestions on how our voices can be heard and what we women can do today to make a difference for the generations of women behind us… I don’t want them to face the same struggle…

P.S.- For those of you who don’t know me, I promise I am an optimist and generally positive person.  While this will not be the most uplifting excerpt I will ever write, I post this in hopes of opening dialogue, giving a voice to other mother’s and perhaps providing perspective on the experience of one mama out there.