I recently heard journalist Caroline Criado Perez interviewed on the podcast 99% Invisible. It just so happens that the podcast is aptly named for this episode which dives into Perez’s latest book: Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men. The book explores the data gap in research and design—how so many of our systems and the products we use each day fail to consider women in their basic design. Designing for men is often the default and the range of outcomes can vary from lost time to lost lives.
Earlier this year we were invited to develop and facilitate a women’s leadership speaking series for Midwest Communications– specifically their Southern Indiana division of Midwest Radio. Midwest Radio owns and operates the premier radio stations of the Southern Indiana Region, and play an integral role in growing and fostering community in Evansville, Indiana and the surrounding areas. Specifically, Midwest Radio is dedicated to elevating their female community, who play a valuable role for their stations.
A few months ago, we started working with Stacy Kessler, a consultant who helps entrepreneurs find clarity in their business strategy. After a lot of whiteboarding, deep discussion and tweaking, we developed four elements to drive Gild Collective in its fifth year (!)—our vision, mission, purpose and core values.
Last month I wrote about the invisible workload that women carry and how I personally try to counteract it, which prompted a slew of messages from friends sharing their stories and perspectives. One of these friends, a great friend of mine from high school and new mom of a perfect baby boy, sent me a recommendation to check out a book she was reading: Jancee Dunn’s How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids. While I can confidently say that I have never hated my husband, my baby is only 18 months– there is still plenty of time for resentment to fester. In the spirit of research, I dove right in, and I’m glad that I did.
We continued our work with the Emergency Medicine Department at the University of Cincinnati with a session for the department’s women’s initiative. Our workshop topic was Developing Solutions for Gender Issues and during the session we worked through the topics that rose to the top for participants in a pre-sessions survey. The topics we covered were on work / life balance or integration, advocating for others, and building confidence.
We know that women are underrepresented in leadership across the board in this country. In the 2018 Women in the Workplace study our suspicions were confirmed when we learned that across industries progress toward gender equity in leadership has stalled nationwide. The chart below shows that women make up only 22% of the “C-Suite” level positions in this country, with women of color drastically less represented than that at only 4%.
My simplest description of emotional labor is to call it “invisible work”: The work that goes into managing households and relationships to make them run smoothly. It was first introduced and has been studied for many years as a workplace issue in sociology as the process of managing feelings and expressions to fulfill the emotional requirements of a job. Of course the idea of managing feelings and expressions and fulfilling emotional requirements applies to the “jobs” we do at home as well, and the “invisible work” I described of managing households and relationships applies to the workplace. These two definitions complement and intertwine with one another and bleed into almost all aspects of life for many women. I can, of course, speak to emotional labor best from my personal worldview, which is that of a white, middle-class, heterosexual wife, mother, and business owner. Women of color, trans women, female immigrants, lesbian women, bisexual women, and impoverished women must navigate the complexities of marginalization (often several layers of it at once) along with their emotional labor. I cannot begin to understand the level of exhaustion that must bring.
In recognition of Women’s History Month, AAR Corporation in Chicago’s women’s resource group “X Network” invited us to host a program for all employees. Our focus for the program was building confidence,
In order to get specific about goal setting, we must look realistically at our plans and evaluate what we are willing to – or in some cases, excited to – give up in order to achieve our goals. We must firmly say “no” to many things in order to have maximum focus on what we want to say “yes” to.