gloria-talkingAfi Ofori of Zars Media invited me to write about my career journey and kindly let me repost it here for you.

Hi everyone, I’m Gloria Feldt, co-founder and president of Take The Lead, a new nonprofit organization whose mission is to prepare, develop, inspire and propel women to take their fair and equal share of leadership positions across all sectors by 2025. I’m also an author and public speaker, and former president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

I got into this role out of my passion for equality for all, and in particular for women to get a fair shake. That passion has taken several forms. Take The Lead is the most recent incarnation. It began in 2008, when I discovered while researching an article on women in politics for Elle Magazine that the barriers to women in leadership — whether in the workplace, in civic life and politics, or in personal life — now have as much to do with our own ambivalence toward power as with external barriers.

I know from my own life that this can be a painful issue, so I wanted to inspire, not blame women, and to give them practical tools and tips to help them on their journey forward.

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A few days ago, I went to the best funeral I’ve ever attended.

It’s unusual to say that about an occasion normally considered sad and somber. But the memorial service for Muriel “Mickie” Siebert, a well-known finance executive in the U.S. and the first woman to own a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, goes down in my book as a perfectly delightful send off.

Mickie founded her brokerage firm, Muriel Siebert & Co, Inc. which became part of Siebert Financial and went public in 1996. She also served as New York State’s Superintendent of Banking (referring to herself in her 2008 autobiography Changing the Rules as the S.O.B.). Mickie’s career has lessons for all women, no matter their occupation:

  • Have a dream and go for it.
  • Start your own game if those in power won’t let you into theirs — or even if they will but you prefer your vision of how things should be.
  • No matter how high you climb, help other women rise and keep them close to support you.
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It was all over the news for days. Every pundit, every political talk show, every newspaper march-on-washington-widerunning big retrospective spreads. Op eds galore, and reminiscences of what it was like to march together toward equality.

Today, August 26 is Women’s Equality Day, the day that commemorates passage of the 19th amendment to the US constitution, giving women the right to vote after a struggle that lasted over 70 years. A big deal, right?

Right. But that’s not what all the news was about. In fact, though President Obama issued a proclamation and a few columnists like the New York Times’ Gail Collins gave it a nod, hardly anyone is talking about Women’s Equality Day. At least not in consciousness-saturating ways that garner major media’s attention, as Saturday’s March on Washington commemorating the 50th anniversary of a similar Civil Rights march.

Yet the two anniversaries are rooted in common values about equality and justice for all. They share common adversaries and aspirations. Racism and sexism are joined at the head.

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Do you feel stuck in your career? Need a boost of inspiration and some practical tools to set and reach your next goal? Join us for an exciting interactive webinar Gloria Feldt’s 9 Practical Leadership Power Tools to Advance Your Career led by Gloria Feldt, co-founder of Take The Lead, whose mission is to prepare and propel women…

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Most of our talk about women’s career advancement seems to focus on elite colleges and high profile professions such as corporate leadership. Yet there are many jobs open to women who want to try less obvious routes to career success.
AAUW has long been a leader in workplace advancement and pay equity for women.

Their recent research into the higher student loan debt burden women experience due to the gender pay gap found that many women – more than 4 million – view community college as their best, and most affordable, option after high school.

Dana Kaplan’s story of how she succeeded in a typically all-male field is a fascinating example of how community colleges can help women change careers or to gain the skills they need to advance in any chosen profession.

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If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

Like a lot of recent graduates, Kaplan had trouble getting work in her chosen field — philosophy — after college. She realized she needed a change when she found herself stuck “9 to 5 in a cubicle. I couldn’t stand it.”Or, if you’re an auto mechanic and 2011–12 AAUW Career Development Grantee Dana Kaplan, try something completely different!

I asked Kaplan how she made the jump from one career to the next. “I always knew I wanted to work with my hands,” she said. For a while she considered going into construction, to which people generally responded, “You’re too smart; you’re too pretty [for a job like that].”

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If you, like me, have come to look forward to Maegan Vazquez’s “Young Politica” columns on Heartfeldt, you are going to miss her interesting take on the world through the students’ lens. During the past two semesters that she has interned for me, it has been my pleasure to see her grow and her writing develop.

Enjoy her last column here.  I told her I predict we’ll be reading her in the Washington Post in a few years.

Today, airsoft rifles closely resembling AK-47s were found in the dorm room of a New York University student, according to the New York Post. The psychology student, Bernard Goal, 20, allegedly assembled and sold them for up to $500 each. collegecrime

The story may not have been at the top of my radar (nor on the radar of the New York Post a few weeks ago, but in a post-Boston Marathon and post-MIT shootout world, I have become hyperaware of all things ammunition on campus—especially when that campus is my own.

As a member of the media, it would be naive of me to cite this as a reason for stricter gun laws on campus. Even I know that when in search for stories, a journalist often writes about what is most concerning to their audience at that moment in time. Right now, almost anything guns is a-go.

Up until recent events, campus gun laws were not an issue I was concerned with; mainly because my college doesn’t have a real campus. Rather, students take classes in buildings scattered across lower-Manhattan.

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Monday night I attended the bipartisan Women’s Campaign Fund’s annual “Parties of Your Choice“.

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As always, they begin with a raucous reception at Christie’s for several hundred guests, after which we all scatter around town for intimate dinners in beautiful homes. At each party, there are several WCF-endorsed candidates or elected officials who tell their tales and make their pitches.

Here are a few photos I took during the evening, which was peppered with chants of “Change the players. Change the game.”

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Consider this your Women’s History Month bonus post. In the heated contemporary debate about whether Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s exhortation to women to Lean In will help women in less elevated positions, Ruth Nemzoff, Resident Scholar at Brandeis Women’s Studies Research Center and author of Don’t Roll Your Eyes: Making In-Laws Into Family reminds us that this dispute is hardly new. You could substitute “Sandberg” for “Friedan” in most of Nemzoff’s article. And the takeaway lessons for women remain the same too.friedan-collage

Let’s not waste our time denigrating Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique because it focused only on the problems of affluent women, rather, let us praise her for starting a revolution.

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