The place was packed tonight and the woman in the bright red jacket at the podium exhorted us to take advantage of this moment in history when women can rise to any height. And why, she asked, are there not more women pushing through those broken boundaries and ceilings? Gloria Feldt's newly published book is titled "No Excuses, 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power." I bought it and I will read it.
I like Gloria. I met her last summer in New York at the BlogHer Conference where she was part of a three woman panel called "How to Use Your Voice, Your Platform and Your Power" that included Marie Wilson, former president of the MS. Foundation and Simran Sethi, associate professor at University of Kansas School of Journalism. They were rousing.
Gloria was introduced to me by Cynthia Samuels, whom I'd met at the very first BlogHer Conference I attended four summers ago and whom I see at every BlogHer Conference I attend. I digress, but this world is filled with wonderful women. And that is another topic. Or perhaps it is the topic.
There are tens of thousands of wonderful, smart, funny, intelligent, savvy women in this country. There are more women college graduates than men graduates. Women make up half our population, 50% of the total workforce and 60% of the voters. So why do we only hold 17% of elected offices and why do we still receive lesser salaries than men? Why, when we won those major victories in the 1970s and it became routine for young women to go on to medical school, backpack the world, climb corporate ladders, put off pregnancy with a pill or end an unplanned pregnancy legally - WHY aren't more and more and more and more women continuing to rush through those barriers broken decades ago?
I believe are many answers to that question. One thing that did occur to me as I listened to Gloria Feldt is the difference in the economies of families today when compared to families of the 1970s. I thought of a talk given by Elizabeth Warren at UC Berkeley that I watched on You Tube. Warren compared a family of 4 in 197o to a family of 4 in 2005. She suggested that families today need two incomes to survive in the middle class. I think of my own daughters and their families and how the times are not at all the same as when I raised them. I did not have a paying job and took time for consciousness raising, political volunteering and social justice work.
Today, my daughters are holding jobs, raising kids and keeping house. I do know their hearts and minds are in the right place. I raised them well. But do they also have time these days to run for the school board, a city council seat, time to write op-ed pieces or get on a fast track job with real money? Apparently not. They are really busy keeping all the pieces of their lives together.
They have the energy and passion to speak out on Facebook and Twitter and at their jobs and in their children's schools. But I suggest that the 1960s and 1970s were more perfect economic and political times for women to break big boundaries. I also suggest, after listening to Gloria this evening, that 2011+ might also be another kind of perfect time to take stands, speak out and organize women voters for the very dollars-and-cents causes that continue to affect our equality and opportunity.