3 Things I learned this week (and one sneak preview)

Did you know that only 2% of women’s businesses crack the $1,000,000 revenue mark?

I learned that this week when I had the pleasure of speaking at Kristi Hall’s 2% club mastermind group.

While it’s not easy for any entrepreneur to build a business, according to a study by EY, businesses owned by men are 3.5 times as likely to reach that million-dollar threshold.

Kristi, founder of Conscious Connections, an 8000-member strong network of “business-savvy women who lead first with heart, consciousness and the unwavering belief that everyone is destined to find and profitably do their right work,” had invited me to share some tips with the group of women who have been meeting together for two years to support and learn from one another.

Because I know entrepreneurs have to be scrappy innovators, the Power Tool I chose to share with them was #3: Use what you’ve got. The resources you need are almost always there if you have the wisdom to see them and the power to use them.

Here’s one of the exercises we did — try it out and get deep into appreciating your own points of power.

I learned this week that the gentlemen in Congress finally realized that they had better not mess with Mother Nature, and especially not with human mothers in their midst. In a rare bipartisan general consent vote, newborns under one year are allowed on the U. S. Senate floor AND can be breastfed there.

Michele Weldon, Take The Lead’s Editorial Director, has written this piece for our newsletter next week — Power of New Working Moms: Beyonce, Pulitzer Winners, Political Leaders Shine — and I want to share it with you in advance because the title is everything. From New Zealand to Coachella and to the Senate floor, women are taking on a new power to get things done. Michele points out how that while women in the spotlight can afford things like childcare, these activist moms are “are also shedding light on the need for paid parental leave policies and adequate, affordable child care so that all working mothers can achieve their goals and fulfill their creative and professional ambitions.”

Can I love this hashtag via Elisa Kreisinger’s Pop Culture Pirate newsletter any more? (And you should totally subscribe.)

#RealBabiesBeforeManBabies

As CNN reported:

llinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth, who gave birth this month to her second child, becoming the first US Senator to do so while in office, spearheaded the push for the rule change and applauded her fellow lawmakers who she says helped to “bring the Senate into the 21st Century by recognizing that sometimes new parents also have responsibilities at work.”

Um hum. And perhaps we should ask: what would our institutions look like if women had created them? It’s not like having babies is anything new. We would have figured out how to manage childcare and work a long time ago.

I couldn’t resist tweeting this only slightly snarky response to another example of women figuring it out.

This week I relearned the power of the cohort to capture imaginations and move women farther faster to leadership parity.

I met with Take The Lead AZ’s Leadership Council and briefed them on the progress of our #50WomenCan Change the World programs for women in nonprofits and Media and Entertainment, plus the equally exciting ones upcoming for women in healthcare leadership, Human Resources, finance, childcare policy, and tech.

(If you are an AZ friend and want to know more about our one and only local chapter Take The Lead AZ, tweet me @GloriaFeldt and I’ll connect you. )

Wow, we were immediately off and running with ideas to do them for women in education, entrepreneurship, executives across sectors, and on and on.

Leadership parity moment is now and making it happen is just my cup of tea. (This photo courtesy of my lovely daughters and sister who took me for a birthday tea at the iconic AZ Biltmore.)

I hope it’s your cup of tea too because my sneak preview is to get ready for Tiffany Shlain’s 50/50 Day. I’ll be sharing from their feeds all day and Take The Lead is proud to be among the many sponsors and partners. You can learn more and join up here.

Till next week, power TO you!

“You had the power all along, my dear” — Glinda the good witch to Dorothy in The Wizard of OZ.

But as Dr. Susan Wilder, founder of Lifescape medical practice said at the mastermind, “You have to believe you deserve to commit. “

GLORIA FELDT is the New York Times bestselling author of several books including No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power, a sought-after speaker and frequent contributor to major news outlets, and the Co-Founder and President of Take The LeadPeople has called her “the voice of experience,” and among the many honors she has been given, Vanity Fair called her one of America’s “Top 200 Women Legends, Leaders, and Trailblazers,” and Glamour chose her as a “Woman of the Year.”

As co-founder and president of Take The Lead, a leading women’s leadership nonprofit, her mission is to achieve gender parity by 2025 through innovative training programs, workshops, a groundbreaking 50 Women Can Change The World immersive, online courses, a free weekly newsletter, and events including a monthly Virtual Happy Hour program and a Take The Lead Day symposium that reached over 400,000 women globally in 2017.

The Problematic of Work Life Balance Part 3: To Be or not to Be Gender Differences

Debjani Chakravarty

This is the third and last (for now at least) of Debjani Chakravarty’s series exploring work life balance through the lens of economic and political culture. in this post, she asks the question of whether work life balance can or should be gender neutral. Debjani is a graduate student and artist, currently pursuing a PhD in the Women and Gender Studies Program at Arizona State University. She has worked as a journalist and social worker in India.

Rebecca is a grad student, and she works part time at Starbucks. She is getting a degree in social work, hopeful of pursuing a career she’s passionate about. She also works as an editor and ghost writer on the side. When I ask Rebecca about work life balance, she says, “Strange I never think about it. My parents never went to college and they never left their little Ohio town where I grew up. For them, my life’s a dream come true, and they are hopeful that someday I’ll be able to do all those things that they only planned about, travel, work a respectable job, buy a big house. Work life balance, let’s see. For me it’s about taking the occasional Adderall, so that I can keep working. My life’s on hold right now, work is all that matters.”

Smithson and Stokoe (2005) contend that “work-life balance” represents a kind of gender blind organizational term that over generalizes women’s experience. It is often about a woman who’s in an un-gendered workplace, with enough resources to make life altering choices.[1] She has equal opportunities, equal access and the privilege to enter and leave the workforce at will. Work-life balance, in the context of corporate management becomes a de-gendered term that does not “in practice change the widespread assumption within organizations by managers and employees, both women and men, that these issues are strongly linked to women.” Instead, the authors argue that organizations should find ways to allow for gender differences, so that women do not feel compelled to perform “macho maternity.” Motherhood and maternity are not “personal” issues, and they need to be viewed as such.

The Swedish approach of a long period of paid parental leave, of which two months has to be taken by each parent, or be lost, demonstrates an attempt to de-gender parenthood and caring responsibilities, in contrast to the UK system of six months’ paid maternity leave but a minimal (two weeks) paid leave available to fathers (Nyberg, 2003). Some UK organizations have implemented unpaid leave and flexible working opportunities policies available for all employees, although in practice patterns of leave-taking remain highly gendered (Smithson et al. 2004). It is likely that in a context where many more men do take part in flexible working schemes such as parental leave agreements, a backlash becomes less of a deterrent as flexible working is normalized (165).”

In a similar vein, Caproni argues that the language of work life balance is the kind of language that is used to create bureaucratic organizations. This language is rampant in the boardrooms of fortune 500 companies, strategy lesson in MBA classrooms, as it is in women’s lives. The work life balance discourse reflects individualism, goal focus, achievement orientation and instrumental rationality devoid of emotion that is fundamental to modern bureaucratic thought. Such language begins to govern our lives, and colonize our lifeworlds. Discourses focused on the individual detract attention away from the complex power relations that shape and restrict the individual. [2]

Therefore, not only is the Cosmo (or Oprah, or Good Housekeeping or Women’s Health) take on work life balance heterosexist, narrow, consumerist and privileged, erasing complex realities of racial, sexual, aged, class based and numerous other identities, it is also a part of the post feminist project of the ‘self.’ There is nothing inherently wrong in taking quizzes to find out what one’s role juggling coefficient is, or how one can prioritize, remember to breathe or invest in technology and a balanced diet, what is problematic is the pressing individualism of these discourses that allows policy makers to conveniently wash their hands off collective responsibilities and shroud their failings in a language of individual responsibility. A positive attitude is as important to successful work life balance as family friendly workplace policies that do not view women’s work as optional.


[1]Smithson, Janet & Stokoe, Elizabeth H.(2005) Discourses of Work–Life Balance: Negotiating ‘Genderblind’ Terms in Organizations. Gender, Work and Organization. Vol. 12 No. 2 March 2005

[2] Caproni, P. J (2004) Work/Life Balance: You Can’t Get There From Here. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science; Jun 2004; 40, 2;

The Daddy Shift: Men of Tomorrow

Everything is politics.

Certainly within the family the issue of who takes care of the kids is highly charged and highly staked for all concerned. It seems to me that the next wave of feminism must be for men and women together to take on changing the workplace so both can have a life while earning a living and making sure their children are in fact well cared for.

That’s why this Washington Post article, “Get Ready to Step up, Dad” caught my eye. Here’s an excerpt”

There’s a good bit of chatter these days about what some are calling “The Coming American Matriarchy.” National Journal columnist Jonathan Rauch, drawing on census data, suggests that American women will soon outnumber men in top professions and enjoy increased earning power. This is largely because they will have had more years of formal education, a trend already established among Americans in their mid-20s to mid-30s.

This raises the question: Who will take care of their children? Will women continue to run themselves ragged trying to be boss at work, full-time caregiver at home and on call for either obligation day and night? Or will they look to their mates, who, should projections hold, may not be putting in as many hours at work as they?

If the latter, some things are going to have to change, not the least of which are women’s attitudes toward their men as parents…

My own father figured large in my childhood. He was affectionate and affirmed me often in a sort of mixed message way by telling me I could do “anything your pretty little head desires.” But fix dinner? Change a diaper or give a bath? Ha! My son, in contrast, has been intimately involved in every aspect of his sons’ lives since conception. He’s even made clear that he would forego career advancement if it means he can’t put his family’s wellbeing first.

The women’s movement has changed men as profoundly as it has changed women. Now it is up to both to apply the principles of movement organizing to get the companies they work for to establish policies that enable them to live up to their parenting responsibilities equally.

After all, in the politics of the personal, doesn’t everybody benefit from that?

GLORIA FELDT is the New York Times bestselling author of several books including No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power, a sought-after speaker and frequent contributor to major news outlets, and the Co-Founder and President of Take The LeadPeople has called her “the voice of experience,” and among the many honors she has been given, Vanity Fair called her one of America’s “Top 200 Women Legends, Leaders, and Trailblazers,” and Glamour chose her as a “Woman of the Year.”

As co-founder and president of Take The Lead, a leading women’s leadership nonprofit, her mission is to achieve gender parity by 2025 through innovative training programs, workshops, a groundbreaking 50 Women Can Change The World immersive, online courses, a free weekly newsletter, and events including a monthly Virtual Happy Hour program and a Take The Lead Day symposium that reached over 400,000 women globally in 2017.