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Wednesday
Oct172012

Presidential Debate and Working Women

I am not particularly political.  As a registered Independent, I struggle with the way the American Political Machine works.  There may not be a better solution out there in the world, but the rhetoric and name-calling really does not afford me the opportunity to be proud of either candidate and say "Yes, I want that person to be my representative to the world."  That said, I am unwaveringly grateful to the men and women who have and continue to sacrifice to protect the American way of life.  Thank you to all of you who serve.  You ensure my right to have this opinion.

In last night's debate, the fourth question of the night came from a polished young woman who asked what the candidates would do about gender inequalities in the workplace.

Obama spoke about his mother and grandmother and their struggles to be seen as equal to their male colleagues.

"I was raised by a single mom who had put herself through school while looking after two kids, and she worked hard and made a lot of sacrifices to make sure we had everything we needed," he said. "My grandmother ... hit the glass ceiling: she trained people who would end up becoming her bosses during the course of her career. She didn’t complain, that’s not what you did in that generation. And this is one of the reason that the first bill I signed was something called the Lily Ledbetter bill."

Here is the part I don't understand....

"We fixed that -- and that's an example of the kind of advocacy we need because women are increasingly the breadwinners in the family," Obama said. "This is not just a women’s issue, this is a family issue, a middle-class issue and that’s why we've got to fight for it."

When have gender inequality in the workplace and equal wages have been achieved?  How did I miss that revolution?  Great so the National Women's Law Center (champions of laws and policies that work for women and families) can close up shop and we can forget about that silly Paycheck Fairness Act?  I don't think so.

I spend a great deal of my personal time advocating for working women.  I am fortunate to work for a company that understands and supports this passion.  I am a Sr. Director of Competitive Intelligence and have been afforded great opportunity to "sit at the table" with key decision makers. In these meetings, especially in the past few years, I have never had the experience of feeling like a woman at the table.  I am just a participant.

EMC invests heavily in college hire programs and I can see that the population coming into the company is a healthy mix of intelligent minds of many races and both genders.  I delighted that am able to be a part of nurturing some of those minds in my day to day job.  It is one of my favorite things about working in a technology company. 

EMC sponsors many conferences such as the Simmons Women's Leadership Conference in Boston, MA and is a member of National Center for Women in Technology.

I am sorry to break it to both candidates that the work on fair pay and gender equality in the country is NOT done.

There is a meme about Governor Romney's "binders full of women."  To me, that was not the most offensive part of his comments.  When asked about equal pay he talked about allowing flexible work schedules for his female staff.  Thanks Governor Romney, because only women have families.....

Despite the way this quote played out in the media "binders full of women"; I do applaud his actions to staff with diversity.

"I had the chance to pull together a cabinet and all the applications seemed to be from men ... and I said gosh, can't we find some women who are also qualified?" he said, talking about reaching out to women's groups to find qualified women for the posts, citing a study that found his administration had the most high-ranking women of all 50 states."

There is no doubt that we have all suffered in the poor economy, this statistic is about women

"In the last four years, women have lost 580,000 jobs. ... 3.5 million more women [are] now in poverty than four years ago," he said. "What we can do to help young women and women of all ages is to have an economy so strong that employers are looking for more employees."

 

No matter which candidate you support, please continue to drive home the importance of diversity and equality for all.

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