The Sum Volume #5: Move

“The first responsibility of leadership is the creation of meaning.”—Warren Bennis.

Welcome to the Sum, where I share my take on the meaning of sum of the week’s parts. I want your voice too. Leave comments here or @GloriaFeldt.

The word of the week is MOVE.

As in a movement has to move to be successful. (Grab your iced tea or mint julep—this Sum will be longer than usual.)

From Suffrage to Full Equality: What’s Next for Women’s Rights?

Barbara Williams, Executive Director,
NY State Women’s Suffrage Commission

Have you seen the new Wonder Woman movie? If so, you probably noticed the reference to suffragists. William Moulton Marston, Wonder Woman’s creator, was inspired by the suffragists.  So on this weekend leading up to the long July 4th weekend celebrating all that America aspires to be, let’s raise our glasses to celebrate the women who fought for our being part of that vision.

Continue reading “The Sum Volume #5: Move”


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

The Sum Volume #3: Don’t Shhhh Me!

“The first responsibility of leadership is the creation of meaning.”—Warren Bennis. Welcome to the Sum, where I share my take on the meaning of sum of the week’s parts. I want your voice too. Leave comments here or @GloriaFeldt.

The Sum of this week is voice.

To put a positive spin on it, we’ve had many examples of the power of a woman’s voice.

It started last Sunday during the Tony Awards, when best actress in a musical, Bette Midler, kept speaking her piece long after the escalating music signaled she should get off the stage. She took her time, thanked the women who came before her, and imperiously waved the orchestra off, declaring she had the floor. The way she took her time and space to make her voice heard felt outrageous and liberating at the same time. Her assertive presence must have made Amy Cuddy proud.

We’re accustomed to seeing women engage not by such screeching vehicular feats of daring, but equally intense though too often silent tests of their personal agency. Cultural norms die hard. May this one rest in peace.

Continue reading “The Sum Volume #3: Don’t Shhhh Me!”


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

How Did Women Advance in the Oughties?

Katha Pollitt, The Nation columnist and author of a new book of poetry, The Mind Body Problem asked a great question today on a media listserv we’re both on. She wanted to know what we thought were the places where women and/or feminism made advances, went backward, or were treading water.

How do you think women advanced during the last decade? (We can deal with the backward steps in another post…at the beginning of a new year and new decade, let’s start with a nod to the advances.)

Here are my two top-of-mind, unfiltered answers that I sent to Katha, mostly to the positive.

1. The rise of social media has given women the opportunity for a much bigger voice individually and collectively. The asynchronous, information-rich technology and the ability to create “rooms of one’s own” appeal to women who have for so long been overtalked by louder male voices. As a result women are over 50% of bloggers and 57% of the people on Facebook and Twitter. Social media offer a way to connect, share, find support systems, and organize. Women tend to isolate and think they have to solve their problems–often problems caused by systemic barriers–alone. But with social media, they can find answers to their questions and if they choose they can organize to solve problems whether in the private sector or politically. Having been recognized by advertisers as the purchasers of  over 80% of all consumer goods, women could also use their online and social media presence to reshape the consumer economy.

The bad news is that this power remains largely in the potential category because women have not used it strategically to mass their voices.  Power unused is power useless. This is the name of a chapter in the book I’m writing now and I am sad to say I have all too many examples.

2. Reproductive health advanced despite George W. Bush. A few of my personal fave highlights:

a) Mifepristone, the early abortion pill, was approved by the FDA in 2000 just before Bush was sworn in. This was an important political victory as well as giving women an option for very early pregnancy termination without surgery. Ostensibly Mifepristone would make abortion access more widespread, and it probably has but it definitely has not been the panacea some people assumed it would be. For the most part, it is only administered by doctors who were already performing abortions because its medical protocol requires that surgical abortion be available as a backup in case of an incomplete abortion via Mifepristone. Of course, anti-choice harassment and intimidation of doctors has also played a part in limiting access.

b) Plan B emergency contraception was FDA approved for over-the-counter use for women 18 and over in 2006. Increasing public knowledge about EC and easier access to it have been instrumental in lowering the rate of unintended pregnancy and abortion. Restrictions on over-the-counter EC for teens 17 and under are unnecessary, according to medical experts including the FDA’s own scientific advisory committees.

c) there have been a number of additions to the variety of birth control methods available to women and tweaks to older methods aimed at making them more palatable or effective.

d) Following on initiatives started in 1998 to get insurance plans to cover contraception, during the early “oughties”, the number of states requiring such coverage rose to 27. With that, plus the requirement that Federal employees’ insurance plans cover contraception starting in 1998 and several successful lawsuits challenging exceptions to contraceptive coverage within large self-insured company plans, contraceptive coverage went from rare to routine.

OK, your turn. Let’s talk about what you think the advances have been.


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

Citizen Jane Tells Us How to Clean Up

Last night’s presidential debate on CNN was some of the best theater I’ve seen (watch clips). It had everything–a room packed with celebrities there to see our hottest political performers, snappy scripts well delivered, a spectacle much like top flight tennis players volleying at the height of their game, lights-camera-action.

Finally! Wolf Blitzer opened with the question that I’ve been giving the answer to since the campaign begain when he observed that  Obama and Clinton look like the American dream team. It wouldn’t have been too seemly to ask who’d be on top, but the implication was obvious. They both gave the only answers they could, which was to say how much they respected one another and “here’s why I should be president”.

Obama is better with facile phrasemaking and people love that; nevertheless, Clinton  got the best line–and biggest laugh–of the evening when asked whether the Bush-Clinton sequence should continue, she said “It might take a Clinton to clean up after a Bush again.”

Talk about finding her voice! That was the kind of remark only a mother and a woman who’s had to clean up after all kinds of messes personal and political could have uttered so convincingly. Clinton’s candidacy has changed everything for women in political life; no matter where they stand on the party spectrum, women are becoming more engaged in politics as a result.

Which brings me to the “So what” for today: an example of a woman who thought women should be more engaged in politics and decided to speak up about it.

What’s more, I ran across her dandy website called Citizen Jane Politics while reading a newsletter from EmergeCalifornia, which is an amazing organization dedicated to recruiting and advancing pro-choice Democratic women for political office all up and down the ticket in their state, and now has sister affiliates burgeoning around the country.

Patricia Murphy, Citizen Jane’s 36-year-old founder and former communications director for Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga., launched the site in November to add a new voice to online political reporting. She’s not pushing any candidate or party – just involvement.

“I wanted to see something not only fun and engaging, but aimed at women,” she said. “I didn’t see it, so I started it,” she told Media General News Service in an article called “Women Seeking Women–for Politics”.

Hillary didn’t grow up thinking she might be president. In her young adulthood, she was a pretty ordinary Citizen Jane, doing comunity service work but with an active interest in politics that has obviously grown over time until finally she began to see herself as a presidential candidate.

My fondest hope is to see exponentially more Citizen Janes getting involved, speaking up, running, and winning in the years to come. Now that would be the most dramatic event of all in American politics.


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.