“Well behaved women rarely make history” ~ Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
I often wear a t-shirt bearing historian Ulrich’s advice because people react with a chuckle and it starts conversations. Conversations we need because women’s history is rarely given its due.
March is Women’s History Month, so designated because history has largely been framed through the male lens, recorded by male pens, and thus not surprisingly showcases men as the protagonists and the leaders; women, if noticed at all, play supporting roles (unless of course they take “male” personas, such as generals).
Yet women were everywhere, giving birth to everyone, among many other accomplishments. I’ve often wondered whether, if women had been documenting history for the last millennium, keeping peace and making things rather than making war and destroying things would be the central organizing narrative.
Then, once history is made, it seems so normal that it can easily be taken for granted. When I asked my grandson if he would vote for a woman for president, he responded “Yeaaah” in that drawn out way that made it sound as though I had three heads to ask such a dumb question.
And Sunday’s New York Times front page boasted a photo of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde—with little comment about what a power shift those two symbolize. Yet, as Lagarde said at the recent Women in the World conference, the global financial meltdown might not have occurred if Lehman Brothers had been Lehman Sisters—or at least Lehman Brothers and Sisters. History has consequences for the future.
Women’s History: A Revolutionary ShiftRead More
You can now find me on ForbesWoman.com. My first post will tell you why it took me so long to get started. And now that I’ve jumped into the deep end of the pool, I want to share what I think is the Next Great Leap for women. I’d love to know what your thoughts are. Victoria Pynchon has already weighed in with an amazing piece about sponsorship.
Because my book, No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power, came out officially in paperback on Leap Day—a perfect day for a book about women’s relationship with power, no?—I’ve been thinking hard about what the next great leap forward for women should be. So I thought I’d better check out the history of the every-fourth-year calendar adjustment that gives us February 29.
Leap Day inspired a leap of vision and blazing hope for women in 5th Century Ireland when St. Bridget persuaded St. Patrick to declare a woman could do the unthinkable: ask a man to marry her.
At a time when a woman was, for all practical purposes, owned first by her father and then by her husband, marriage meant not love but economic survival for her and her children. No doubt many seized their one chance to override gendered power norms and choose their own fates.
The tradition continued, with merry belittlements to remind women how little power they had the rest of the time. Men had to pay a fine or give a silk dress if they refused marriage proposals. Women on the prowl for husbands sported red petticoats as warning so poor beleaguered men could dash in the other direction. Haha.
You may be laughing because Leap Day privilege now seems an amusing anachronism. Not only do the majority of men and women think it’s perfectly fine for a female to propose marriage, the End of Men has been proclaimed, Women’s Nation declared, and New York Times columnist Nick Kristof dubs women “Mistresses of the Universe.”
But such puffery masks how far women have yet to go to achieve genuine parity. The next norm-changing leap must be women creating and earning wealth that places the female 51 percent of the population into power balance with their male counterparts.Read More
It’s been quite a week between the lawmakers in Washington taking the debt-ceiling deal to the 11th hour and yesterday being one of the worst days in the financial markets since 2008. Yet despite all the chaos, this Friday’s Round Up is going deploy Power Tool #5 ‘Carpe the Chaos’ and keep marching forward to highlight some of the good, not just the bad and the ugly – we’ve had quite enough of that…Read More
Known to rip apart magazines to write in the white space, I’m constantly thinking about what to write next. I write about my own observations at my blog From the Gen Y Perspective. In addition to questioning the various perspectives different from my own and those of my generation, I am passionate about filling my time with ways to connect with the world.
Women’s History Month always gets me thinking about role models. It’s been argued that finding women who are role models for our future female leaders can be a little tricky. When reports include the fact that women still make up only 3% of Fortune 500 CEOs, I see what the proverbial they are saying. Most of us look to our mothers, teachers, and community leaders if we feel like it’s hard to find someone else in the limelight who really is a role model.
I realized about a year ago, however, the women who are my role models are leaders because of their expertise and what they do with it.
Most of my role models are female journalists and writers. While they are successful at reporting, I’m really attracted to their proficiency and passion. These women take all the education and wisdom they’ve learned from being on the leading edge of news or research, and they share it with us in the telling of stories.Read More