Friday, March 6, 2015

International Women's Day Celebration

International Women's Day, traditionally celebrated on March 8th each year, marks the economic, political and social achievements of women around the globe. Since 1911, when the first IWD celebration was held, thousands of events have been hosted to honor the brave, motivated women throughout our history who led women's rights change, as well as those who are currently working to achieve full equality today. It is a day full of inspiration and appreciation. 

This year, Simmons College hosted the 18th Annual Boston-Area International Women's Day Celebration. Speakers included Sheila Dallas Katzman, Chair of the UN-CSW Cities for CEDAW/New York City, Lydia Edwards, Attorney and Equal Justice Works Fellow of the Greater Boston Legal Services, and Anjali Sakaria, Legislative Director for the Office of Senate Chair, MA Committee on Labor and Workforce Development. These powerful women framed the event around this year's theme: Making Women's Rights Real. Today, the conversation centered on workplace rights for women in every aspect from paid sick leave, to maternity leave and equal pay. 

Here are a few of our favorite quotes from the twitter-sphere that used the hashtag #BOSIWD:

"Women will have equality in the workforce when men have equality in the home."
"Sick leave is a low wage issue, and a low wage issue is an issue for women."
- Anjali Sakaria

"We must fight for the work that makes all work possible." 
"You have feminist solidarity with your coworkers, but do you have solidarity with your nanny?"
-Lydia Edwards on domestic workers' rights

To learn more about International Women's Day visit:

Friday, February 27, 2015

Women In Power: The Impact of Critical Mass

A week ago, Harvard University's Institute of Politics held a JFK forum on Women in Power: The Impact of Critical Mass, moderated by TIME magazine's highly accomplished Washington correspondent Jay Newton-Small. The panelists, including Jeanne Shaheen, US Senator from New Hampshire, Fernande R.V. Duffy, Associate Justice on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, and Amy W. Schulman, Senior Lecturer at Harvard Business School, gathered to discuss the impacts of women in leadership roles across all sectors.

The discussion was framed around the topic of "critical mass," which moderator Newton-Small defined as the tipping point between male and female representation in any forum; in order to make a measurable impact on outcomes, women need at least 20% - 30% representation, and more critically, in senior positions that allow them to influence change . She noted that women do not often achieve critical mass, whether in Congress, on executive boards, in corporate meeting rooms or on supreme courts. All three panelists agreed that reaching a point of critical mass within their respective sectors is integral to enacting change on a national level.

One of the most interesting topics brought up throughout the discussion was the difference between women's roles in the private sector vs the public sector, i.e.. women's roles in the "corporate world" vs the federal government. Women currently represent 20% of Congress and 35% of federal courts, but in corporations, women have been consistently stuck at 17%. Amy Schulman speaks from a business perspective on the different dynamics of women's leadership in the corporation world:

"In the corporate world, if you are seen as the emblem of a point of view, thats actually going to hinder your ultimate chances for advancement…I think that dynamic of critical mass is what allows for authenticity because instead as being seen as that epiphenomenon, you are actually free to express your range of views that you may have and it is harder to marginalize you." 

Jeanne Shaheen also shared many of her experiences as one of 20 females in the Senate, starting with her efforts to re-open the government during its shutdown in 2013. An informal bipartisan group, primarily comprised of women, met on its own to find a compromise to the shutdown issue. This was a great example of the power of critical mass for women; what little did get done during that Congressional session was done by women.

"It was our efforts that pressured the leadership on both sides of the aisle to come to some agreement...It was that relationship that the women in the Senate had; that we trusted each other, we knew each other and we were able to say, 'we can find a way out of this, we can find a compromise.'" 

To listen to the full forum discussion and audience questions visit:“critical-mass”

Pictured below: MWPC Intern, Kaitlyn Maloney, at the JFK Forum with NH Senator Jeanne Shaheen.

Academy Awards Recap

This years Academy Awards was more than just recognition for artistic talent, it also was an opportunity to voice pressuring gender and racial issues.

As usual, the start of the Oscars included a warm welcome and a fashion show down on the red carpet. For many years prior, celebrities have decked themselves out with stylish gowns, jewelry and suits. However, Reese Witherspoon started a social media movement called #AskHerMore: a campaign that urges reporters to ask female celebrities more substantial questions rather than fashion and gossip.

The typical question a female celebrity is asked is who are you wearing tonight? unlike male celebrities, who are asked the same question but are also asked about their experiences, roles, accomplishments, or talents in the industry. The #AskHerMore was created by the Representation Project to have reporters focus less on an actressappearance and more on her accomplishments.

This campaign created arguments such as, #AskHerMore seems to me to be the celebrity version of having it all - another manifesto of the pressure on women to be everything at all times. Critics of the movement are calling it anti-feministbecause it pressures the female community to not only be pretty, but to be smart as well. Events such as the Oscars are already known to be frivolous and materialistic, so why frown upon the question who are you wearing tonight? Also, many designers and talented people were not able to be recognized by their talents because of this movement. Usually, designers get recognition through these kinds of events, yet their names were not mentioned that night.

The highlight of the night was Patricia Arquettes acceptance speech as she won Best Supporting Actress for her role in Boyhood. As she thanked the producers, cast, and the public, she ended her speech with a powerful statement. To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody elses equal rights. Its out time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.

Arquette gives light to the issue of unequal pay in the labor force. Studies have shown that on average, women get paid 73% of their males counterpart salary.

She also continued her speech at the pressroom conference where she says:

Its time for women. Equal means equal. The truth is the older women get, the less money they make. The highest percentage of children living in poverty are in female-headed households. Its inexcusable that we go around the world and we talk about equal rights for women in other countries and we dont. Its time for all the women in American, and all the meant that love women and all the gay people and all the people of color that weve all fought for to fight for us now.


Although she gave light to a pressuring issue in the United States, Arquette received a lot of critiques from the LGBT community and the people of color. Her statement suggested that the gay community and the people of color achieved equality while women have not. Criticism such as Feminism being a movement for white womens rights, not all womens rights aroused, which made LGBT community and the people of color hesitant to join the movement fearing exclusion.

Nevertheless, we should not focus so much on how the message was delivered, but that it WAS delivered. Women in the labor force do not get the same pay as men. Women and men are still not treated equally in the workforce and, despite numerous advances, women face different, and unequal working conditions. The message that Arquette tries to deliver is that all women do not have the same level of treatment and recognition for the same work in the same profession. It is harder for a woman to get hired at high level positions, it is harder for women to get hired and get maternity leave, and it is harder for women to secure a job in the future once she starts a family

All in all, the Oscars is one the most popular awards ceremony that is watched on a global level. Every year, millions of people gather around to watch as their favorite celebrities and movies get the recognition they deserve. It is great to know that these kinds of high profile events are giving attention to pressuring social issues, such as gender equality.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Congratulations, Ayanna Pressley!

We are excited to share that former MWPC board member and MWPC endorsed candidate, Ayanna Pressley has been awarded this year's "EMILY's list Rising Star Award"! The Rising Star Award recognizes exceptional women in state or local office with a commitment to community, women and families. As Boston City Councilwoman At-Large, Ayanna Pressley has shown her dedication to improving the lives of women and girls in our community. She will be sworn in on March 3rd at the EMILY's list 30th anniversary gala. Former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, will also be awarded at the gala with the organization's "We Are EMILY" award. Congratulations, Ayanna and thank you for the work that you do in our community!

Here are some interesting facts to know about Ayanna:
  • She is the first woman of color to be elected into the council in it's 100 year history.
  • After her election, Pressley formed a new committee, the Committee on Women & Healthy Communities.
  • Out of 15 candidates in the 2009 election, she was the only female candidate. She was elected with nearly 42,000 votes.
  • Before running for election, she served as John Kerry's Political Director after having worked on his campaign as a senior aide for years.
  • She is a "Big Sister" with the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston.

To learn more about Ayanna, read her biography on the official website of the city of Boston:

Leaders Talk Strategy: Our Top 5 Favorite Quotes

The World Economic Forum currently predicts that it will take another 80 years to achieve true leadership parity between males and females. That's certainly not soon enough for co-founders Gloria Feldt and Amy Litzenberger of the women's non-profit, Take the Lead. The two women started this organization with the mission of "preparing, developing, inspiring and propelling women to take their fair and equal share of leadership positions across all sectors by 2025." Take the Lead has been promoting its #25not95 campaign to meet this goal of reaching leadership parity 70 years sooner than predicted. What's not to love about that?

They asked both men and women leaders across all sectors:
What is one thing we can do now that will help us reach leadership parity by 2025? 
Here are our top 5 favorite responses:

1. We can involve men. If men understand the importance of modern leadership skills like humility, collaboration, empathy, and compassion (as detailed in my book, The Athena Doctrine), they can see how having more women leaders is a business imperative.
2. In the United States, we can pass the Equal Rights Amendment and elect a woman president; and everywhere, we can give girls and young women laptops brimming with math and science software.   - CAROL JENKINS, WRITER, FOUNDING PRESIDENT of THE WOMEN’S MEDIA CENTER
3. We can disrupt the status quo by making women visible and powerful in media and thereby more visible and powerful in society.
4. One thing you can do is recognize the need for, and value of, voices and experiences that are entirely different from yours as the way to find true success.


5. We can do what women do best—collaborate across organizations so that we can reach the critical mass necessary to change the world.


To see all of the quotes, visit: