Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Get Bossed Up!

This weekend, I had the fun opportunity to present a resume writing workshop for Bossed Up's first Bootcamp in Washington, DC.  Bossed Up is an inspiring women's leadership development organization recently founded by two young women on top, Emilie Aries and Simone Petrella.  The two founders met at a yoga tweet-up and then cultivated a friendship that led them to create Bossed Up. The mission of Bossed Up is to "to unlock 100% of our human capacity by empowering women to craft healthy, happy, sustainable careers – for life!" Bossed Up Bootcamps are geared for women ages 25 to 35.

I love Bossed Up's holistic approach to women's leadership. Their program agenda includes a love coach, a nutritionist, a head shot session, a stylist, yoga and dance classes, among other more traditional workshops such as networking and salary negotiation. I don't know of any other truly comprehensive women's leadership development model. Most other programs just include professional skills, but avoid topics such as romance, nutrition, or fashion.  However, if a young woman truly wants to be successful and happy, she has to address all aspects of her life and not solely career advancement. If your romantic life or nutritional needs are off balance, your career will also suffer!

I'm really excited to watch how Emilie and Simone continue to build Bossed Up. I hope more women's organizations will incorporate Bossed Up's holistic approach into their trainings. So readers, as you reflect on your own professional development, consider how you can be more holistic in opportunities you seek. Can you take a healthy cooking class? Maybe try out a new exercise routine? Determine your own path to being "Bossed Up!"

Want some quick advice on resume and cover letter writing? Check out my slides from the Bossed Up presentation.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Employment and Housing Discrimination against Domestic Violence Victims

By Aisha Springer
Anyone with experience or knowledge of domestic violence knows how isolating it can be for the victim, whether it is physical isolation imposed by the abuser or the victim’s personal feelings of shame and embarrassment. The often traumatizing response of law enforcement coupled with insufficient or harmful laws serve as verification to many victims that they are, in fact, alone. In 44 states, an employee can be fired for being a victim of domestic violence. This is what happened to Carie Charlesworth, a California teacher. She had placed a restraining order against her abusive husband and informed her school’s principal. Still, her husband showed up in the school parking lot, causing a school lockdown and was arrested. Instead of receiving support, Charlesworth was fired and her children were no longer allowed to attend the school. With her husband set to be released at the end of June and no income of her own, she is left in a situation that forces many abuse victims to remain in an increasingly dangerous relationship. Employment discrimination against abuse victims is legal in most states with the exception of six; Hawaii, Connecticut, Illinois, New York, Oregon, and Rhode Island. This is extremely inadequate given that three fourths of abuse victims have been harassed by their abusers while at work.

Domestic abuse victims can also be evicted under municipal ordinances for disrupting the order. The ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of Lakisha Briggs of Norristown, PA to challenge a “disorderly behavior ordinance.” The ordinance states that landlords and tenants can be penalized if police respond to three instances of “disorderly behavior” within four months. Domestic disturbances are explicitly included in this definition. After Briggs’ first strike, she did not call the police out of fear of eviction. However, neighbors called police when Briggs’ boyfriend attacked her with a brick and again when he stabbed her in the neck. When he was finally arrested, a police officer warned Briggs that she was on her third strike and threatened to have her landlord evict her. The city pressured the landlord to evict, but a housing court refused to order an eviction. The city then stated plans to condemn the property and forcibly remove Briggs. At this time, the ACLU took up the case and the city ceased its eviction efforts. Shortly after, however, Norristown passed an ordinance that would impose fines on landlords who refused to evict tenants who call for police assistance.

This is not a situation isolated to Norristown. Cities across the country have “nuisance ordinances” or “crime-free ordinances” that classify being a victim of domestic abuse as an offense deserving of eviction. In a study published in the American Sociological Review, researchers found that domestic violence was the third most common reason that Milwaukee police issued a nuisance citation. They also found that enforcement of the ordinance is disproportionately targeted at African-American neighborhoods. Domestic violence crimes are already underreported and these ordinances further discourage victims from reporting and possibly escaping their abusers. If they do report the crime, they may become one of the 20% of homeless in Norristown who are domestic violence victims. Discriminatory laws such as these demonstrate the ignorance of lawmakers, law enforcers, and society in general when it comes to domestic violence. Though the law and its enforcers are meant to protect citizens, in reality they often contribute to a continuing cycle of domestic violence. Until laws and attitudes catch up to the reality of these crimes, major roadblocks will remain in the fight against domestic violence.

In All But Six States, You Can Be Fired For Being A Victim Of Domestic Violence

Shut Up or Get Out: PA City Punishes Domestic Violence Victims Who Call the Police

Monday, July 15, 2013

Your Romantic Partner and Your Career Success

Last Friday, I listened to a very interesting video panel "Does Your Choice Of Husband Determine Your Career Success?" hosted by InPower Women.  Panelists included Amye Lee Rheault, Conor Williams, Dana Theus, and Marcia ReynoldsI really appreciated that InPower Women brought attention to this important topic.  I feel that not enough women's leadership development programs and organizations overtly discuss the issue of how your personal life decisions impact your professional career.

I feel that many ambitious young career women, including myself, put finding a partner as a goal to be crossed off of a checklist of our life plans.  However, finding a partner does not necessarily equal success.  As an individual you determine and define your own success.

It's OK to be a strong career oriented women and care about finding a partner.   So often, we silo our professional identity from our personal identity, which often causes imbalances in both identities.  A very successful, single young woman currently working in the White House once told me something along the lines of, "It's OK and we need to put as much energy into finding a partner and having a personal life as we dedicate to advancing our careers."  I need not feel less of a feminist for wanting a partner and children as much as I want to climb the career ladder.

I gained much insight from InPower Women's diverse panel of speakers.  Their advice included to think of an equal partnership as more than just splitting household and childcare tasks.  One needs to think about a partnership also in terms of emotional support for each other. Both partners need to give and take as the dynamics of each person's lives evolve.  Who is good at what tasks?  Who prefers to do the different things?  Above all, their advice is to find a partner that you will continually be able to openly communicate and negotiate with about work-life balance challenges.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Happy Malala Day!

The United Nations has designated today as Malala Day. Malala Yousufzai is the Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban for advocating girls' education in October 2012.  Miraculously, she survived the bullet shot to her head and today she addressed the UN Youth Assembly, advocating for global education.  Today was her first public speech since the attack.

Malala epitomizes the power young women and girls can have in changing not only their local community, but global society  When she was only around 11 years old, she blogged for the BBC about her life under the Taliban and her unwavering commitment to girls education. Her words were so powerful that they threatened the men of the Taliban.

In 2013, Time Magazine  placed Malala on the cover of their annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world.  After Desmond Tutu nominated her for the International Children's Peace Prize, she became the first Pakistani to receive this award.  She is the youngest person in history to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Let us be grateful to and inspired by Malala.  If a young girl can bravely keep fighting after being shot by the Taliban, we too can fight for social justice in our communities.  Join her movement for global education and sign this petition today!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Women Who Make America

Happy Independence Day!  Women are often the unsung daily heroes who keep this country thriving.  In 2009, Maria Shriver and the Center for American Progress produced a report exploring the new reality that for the first time in our nation's history, fully half of the U.S. workers are female and mothers have become the primary breadwinners.  Click here to read the executive summary of the report. 

Women are dominating small businessesWomen in business have seen growth faster than any other business over the last decade.  From 1997 to 2011, the growth in number of businesses was 34% for all businesses, but was 50% for women-owned businesses.  Women-owned businesses are expected to generate 57% of the approximately 10 million small business jobs the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects to be created between 2009 and 2018.

Women are building this country in all sectors of society, from business and the military to politics and education. AOL and PBS launched Makers: Women Who Make America, a digital platform highlighting the trailblazing women of today and tomorrow.  You can browse through the Maker's website to learn more about inspiring women throughout American history.  Share these videos with other men and women in your life!


Monday, July 1, 2013

Emily Cale for Congress!

I officially endorse Emily Cale for Congress! I just watched White House Down and was inspired by the 11 year old girl who heroically helps save the White House. I'd like to thank the filmmakers for a positive female heroine who can inspire girls everywhere.

Emily is a young politico who idolizes the president of White House Down and has her own You Tube ChannelAs she goes on her White House tour, she is an American history buff who educates her tour guide.  When she runs into the president on her tour, she has the audacity to ask him a tough question on his Middle East policy.  She is a young wonk star! Moreover, she does not conform to stereotypical images of a weak girl.  She bravely posts mobile videos of the terrorists that provides the government with crucial information. When a gun is held at her head, she yells at the gunmen to get out of her face, and fights back.  

It's rare than we see a girl main character such as Emily Cale defying gender norms in a Hollywood summer blockbuster.  Check out the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media , which is "the only research-based organization working within the media and entertainment industry to engage, educate, and influence the need for gender balance, reducing stereotyping and creating a wide variety of female characters for entertainment targeting children 11 and under."

If they made a sequel to the movie, I hope that Emily Cale would be the next president.  After making the national spotlight through her heroism when the White House was attacked, hopefully she was first elected to local office.  Then when she was 25 and eligible to run for the House of Representatives, she became a Congresswoman.  Seniority on the Hill is required to become a chair of a committee, but since Emily ran so early in life she was able to become a chair in her thirties.  After a few years of chair of the powerful Rules Committee, she became a Senator.  Then she was elected president!

We need women to run for office earlier on in life so they can actually climb the political ladder and break the glass ceiling.  Many great organizations such as Running Start, WUFPAC, and Ignite exist with the purpose of giving young women the skills and confidence to truly start running for office early in life.

Incredible girls like Emily Cale exist in real life.  Take Talia Leman who at the age of ten raised over $10 million dollar for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. I hope Emily's character will remind the American public about the power of young women and girls!