BPW Foundation's Women Misbehavin' Blog

Well behaved women never make history

Giving Thanks to Women Who have Served Our Country

Posted by BPW Foundation Contributer on November 26, 2014

There is a lot of well-deserved recognition and gratitude that envelops veterans and members of our armed forces during the second week of November.  We are proud of all who have served and serve.  Like other organizations supporting veterans and women veterans in particular, BPW Foundation’s Joining Forces Mentoring Plus® (JFMP) works all day and every day of the year to hand-match women veterans with free mentors who can help them in the pursuit of a civilian job and career.  Our JFMP team recognizes and is well-equipped to address the unique needs and gaps that exist for women transitioning from active duty as well as those who have been out of the service for awhile.

Our priorities are to secure funding which makes this program FREE for women veterans, understand the skillset and network of a generous mentor volunteer, and facilitate the connection by hand-matching the two.  This does not work like a dating site- we delve into the nuances at JFMP.  We want to ensure a productive and meaningful relationship, and that has resulted in numerous success stories.

Do you know that we have been advocating for and providing mentoring for ALL professional women since 1919?  We are not new to this scene.  JFMP is modeled on BPW Foundation’s “Working Women Helping Women Work” approach.  We truly know what we’re doing, and it’s helping change the trajectory of women’s lives.  We have linked arms with other veteran service organizations and together we provide a quilt of support on the legal, financial, benefits, and career fronts. We aren’t embracing women who have served our country as a cause du jour.  We are fully committed to—and invested in—doing right by ALL of America’s working women – and it’s through this lens that we are working to support the career transitions of women veterans.

Our Employer Partners “get it”.  Their underwriting of JFMP is not lip service.  They know that some of the very best people who could run a supply chain for a grocery chain are the very women who made it happen in the military theater.  One of the largest online retailers wants to specifically hire women veterans because they are fluent in logistics and calm in pressure-packed environments like their fulfillment warehouses.

This resonates, doesn’t it?  Whether someone managed postal mail, provided medical services, served on the front line, or kept the line moving at the fuel depot, she has skills that transcend the specific nature of her role.  Shouldn’t she be given the support and the platform necessary to be successful in any role because she choses and is capable of doing so?

Women veterans don’t transition to civilian life with a turnkey resume understood by the non military workplace, but that’s an easy fix when they get the right help.  Whether a mentor is a VP of Communications for a global financial organization, a long-time office clerk/manager/supervisor, or a small-town entrepreneur, she has special insights and advice to offer a woman veteran.  After getting to know one another, those interactions may include everything from editing a resume, to mock interviewing to handing off a personal contact.  Everyone involved wants to ensure success through meaningful employment.  It’s not a simple journey, but it’s one that is eased by the right assets and support.

You can help us replicate this success for even more women veterans by making a financial donation to fund the technology and the lean and talented crew that makes this magic happen.  You can also show your support by becoming a mentor, member, Subject Matter Expert (www.JoiningForceMentoringPlus.org), or encouraging your workplace to support the program and encourage widespread support like Booz Allen Hamilton, Citi, Alliant Credit Union, and many others have done.

Mostly, we hope you will join us in incorporating support for women veterans and their unique needs into daily life all year long…not just in November.

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BPW Foundation Salutes Five Outstanding Working Women Leaders- Awards Are Part of National Business Women’s Week Celebration

Posted by Crystal Williams on October 20, 2014

During National Business Women’s Week 2014, Business and Professional Women’s (BPW) Foundation honors and salutes extraordinary women who epitomize what it means to be a woman leader in the workplace. This year, BPW Foundation has selected five outstanding women who are truly Working Women Helping Women Work®. The awardees are: Dixie L. Arthur, Meredith K. Rollins, Graciela Tiscareño-Sato, Dr. Irene Trowell-Harris, and Dr. Scena B. Webb.

October 20 – 24, 2014 marks the 86th anniversary of National Business Women’s Week (NBWW), a national BPW Foundation signature event that recognizes the achievements of working women throughout history. This year, President Obama, as every President since Herbert Hoover has also done, issued a message during NBWW celebrating the important contributions made by working women to our economy and country. He noted that women are “creating products services that enrich our lives and strengthen our communities.” READ MORE

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BPW JOINS FORCES WITH REDBOOK AND MICHELLE OBAMA

Posted by Crystal Williams on October 9, 2014

redbookBPW Foundation is proud to share an online preview of the November issue of RedBook magazine, featuring two Joining Forces Mentoring Plus® participants, who met with First Lady Michelle Obama during a private July 2014 White House roundtable on women veterans.

Good Morning America highlighted the article today and The First Lady’s attention to the challenges women veterans face. BPW Foundation was asked by the White House to partner on the roundtable, to lend subject matter expertise and to recommend participants for the discussion.

READ MORE

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Women’s Equality Day– History & the 21st Century

Posted by Crystal Williams on August 26, 2014

The American Revolution was won not only with the effort and treasure of honorable men, but also of honorable hard working women. To avoid silk and linen acquisition from England, women wove their own cloth for their families and many women disguised themselves as men and fought in the war against England. Nevertheless, when the United States Constitution was adopted in 1789, it did not include women.

Women’s Equality Day is Tuesday, August 26th and commemorates a hot day in August 1920 when women officially gained the right to vote – this right and the movement to gain voting rights for women was referred to as “women’s suffrage.” The struggle for equal treatment of women has been a difficult and painful road paved with the bravery of those who dared to test the boundaries of human dignity and request equality for women. Women’s Equality Day in the United States marks a turning point for all women and has had global effects.

Read More

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BPW/NC Provides Grants to Women Veterans

Posted by YWM on July 17, 2014

NC grantsIn 2014 BPW/NC launched a grant program to provide funding to women veteran professionals or business owners in North Carolina to be used for training, startup capital or business related expenses. During BPW/NC’s recent convention, $500 grants were awarded to MSgt Barbara J. Bozeman, USAF (Ret.) and Tina Smith, USA (E-4 Specialist).

Ms. Bozeman joined the Air Force because she knew she wanted a career and ended up staying for over twenty years. The most important lesson she learned in the military was that regardless of the circumstances, she was never alone, and that she was responsible to and responsible for everyone with whom she served. This gave her both a great sense of freedom to grow as an individual and as a leader. She plans to use the Women Veteran Grant to create a more professional display for her photography business, Sights and Hounds Photography.

When Ms. Smith was in the 9th grade she knew she wanted to be a soldier and enrolled in the Junior Reserves Officer Training Corps program. She has gone on to obtain a Bachelors of Science Degree in Human Service and a Master’s of Science of in Organizational Management Leadership. Her career goal has always been to use her degrees to help others out. She plans to use the Women Veteran Grant to help boost her business, Germacide Cleaning Solutions.

 

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Veterans Charity Challenge

Posted by BPW Foundation Contributer on July 2, 2014

As you may have heard BPW Foundation is in the midst of the Veterans Charity Challenge, an online fundraising campaign through CrowdRise. The founders of Craigslist have pledged $20,000 to the top fundraising organization, $10,000 to second place and $5,000 to third.

The last four weeks of the Challenge has seen great success for us, but as we reach this final DAY, it is time to go into over-drive to reach our goal. Thanks to donors like you, we are almost there! We need your help to finish strong and raise an additional $2,000 by the end of the Challenge at 10am on July 3rd to win.

No amount is too small please visit www.crowdrise.com/jfmp and show your support for woman veterans, military spouses, caregivers of a wounded warrior and survivors of fallen service members.

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Your Network is Your Greatest Recruiter: 5 Tips to Re-energize Your Networking Techniques

Posted by BPW Foundation Contributer on July 2, 2014

Second in the “The Strength of Your Service …and Beyond” blog series targeting the military and military family community who are seeking opportunities in the civilian workforce.  Look for more installments of this series in the near future.

By Chris Rath

10012587_sThe value of your network, even after separation, can lead to opportunities you never expected.  Many companies receive thousands of applicants.  Responding to every candidate is impossible and positions are competitive.  The key is to network so the opportunities find YOU.  In the service, your network grew with each assignment and just happened by design of your career.  In your job search, you are connecting in a new area.  Here are 5 ways to re-energize your networking techniques to be successful in your job search:

READ MORE HERE

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Your Job Search is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Posted by BPW Foundation Contributer on June 13, 2014

The first in the series The Strength of Your Service…and Beyond 

By Chris Rath

Before my first marathon, I could not fathom running 26.2 miles.  Training for a long distance takes preparation, commitment and tenacity.  Your job search requires the same philosophy.  Finding a new job does not typically happen overnight neither does running a marathon with no training.  Here are tips to running one of the biggest races of your life – finding a job to your second career.

  1. Set a goal.  Right, it’s to find a job.  But not so fast.  Is your goal to find a job or a career? Are you looking for something long term or short term? What is your target industry or company size? Just as in race training, I had to plan for my pace, water breaks, etc.  So, take time to make a plan to help you focus and measure your process so you can make adjustments and move forward.
  2. Rely on a support system. For me, having running buddies and my family’s support got me through the long haul.  The same can make a tremendous difference in your search.  Build upon your existing network and reconnect. If you do not have a mentor, consider someone who has recently separated find military-friendly organizations who offer mentoring through free career mentors and professional resources. Your support system will only continue to grow with people who want to help you.
  3. Practice.  Marathon training often includes a few shorter races to help you prepare for race day.  Preparation for your job search activities should also be done.  As many of you are aware, have a good elevator speech and prepare for common interview questions.  But, take it one step further and continue to evaluate and refine.  Use your support system to work out the bugs so you can feel more relaxed and competitive on interview day.
  4. Change it up.  Conditioning through a variety of exercises better prepared me.  Some days I ran intervals; other days I ran hills – all with the same goal of helping me finish the race successfully.  The same goes for your resume.  While many of you know that refining and tailoring your resume is a constant process, it does get time consuming.  But remember, the end goal is to get you through finish line…with a new job!
  5. Take it easy. Don’t give up.  Stay positive.

To learn more about job searching for your second career, look for more installments of our series, “The Strength of Your Service…and Beyond.”

christine RathChris Rath leads the Veteran Recruiting Program for Booz Allen Hamilton, a publicly traded strategy and technology consulting firm based in Mclean, VA.  The program is focused on employment opportunities for former military, transitioning military, military spouses, guard and reservists.  Candidates may connect with me, other Booz Allen employees/recruiters, and transitioning military colleagues through our Booz Allen Transitioning Military Recruiting LinkedIn Group at https://www.linkedin.com/groups?mostRecent=&gid=5144107&trk=my_groups-tile-flipgrp

Booz Allen is an Employer of Choice for former military personnel, who make up a third of our workforce. We’re committed to supporting veterans, Reservists, National Guardsmen and women, and other employees with military backgrounds through outreach, training programs, and our Armed Services Forum, which provides support, camaraderie, and resources for employees formerly or currently serving our nation.

Visit www.boozallen.com/careers/transitioningmilitary to find out more about these and other unparalleled opportunities for transitioning military personnel and veterans, and to learn about webinars and other upcoming events.

Joining Forces Mentoring Plus offers free unlimited personal career and employment coaching and professional guidance – including working women mentors – for women veterans, female military spouses, caregivers of wounded warriors and survivors of fallen soldiers.  Visit www.JoiningForcesMentoringPlus.org. Volunteer women employees from partners including Booz Allen Hamilton and others are waiting to share their expertise and experience with you!

Posted in Joining Forces, Joining Forces for Women Veterans, Military, Military Families, Veterans, Women Veterans | Leave a Comment »

Honoring Our Fallen Sisters This Memorial Day

Posted by Crystal Williams on May 22, 2014

Memorial Day is one of our nation’s most solemn and revered holidays— we extend our sincere gratitude to these servicemen and women in uniform who gave their lives so we might live in freedom. We honor their memory and pray for peace.

This is also a day when we would like to bring special attention to the sacrifice of our fallen sisters who have died during the war on terror. Since the war began there have been over 157 service women who have bravely perished in defense of our great country. A complete list of the fallen servicewomen can be found by visiting Women in Military Service in America (WIMSA) we invite you to take a moment and remember these women and consider making a donation to WIMSA Memorial to honor them.

We also encourage you to visit the Washington Post’s Faces of the Fallen. Faces of the Fallen provides information about each U.S. service member who died as a result of the War on Terror. Please take a moment to remember and honor these mothers, daughters, wives, sisters, and friends this Memorial Day.

 

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Pictures taken from Washingtonpost.com Faces of the Fallen

Research by Magda Jean-Louis, Greg Linch, Whitney Fetterhoff and Mary Hadar.

Application design and development by Sisi Wei, Jeremy Bowers and Wilson Andrews.

Posted in Joining Forces for Women Veterans, Military, Military Families, Veterans | Leave a Comment »

Looking back on my military career, I most regret…

Posted by BPW Foundation Contributer on May 20, 2014

By Kayla Williams

I wrote Love My Rifle More Than You: Young and Female in the US Army while still serving in the Army, right after getting home from Iraq; it hit shelves just months after I left active duty. Everything was fresh in my mind – but it was also raw and unprocessed. Rather than empathy and understanding, at that time I was still filled with a lot of anger and frustration. Overall, I do not regret the book – it very accurately captures who I was and how I felt in those moments. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have any regrets.

As a woman soldier on a deployment to Iraq, during major combat operations I didn’t think my gender mattered much. When we took small arms fire, no men flung themselves in front of me to save me – they just did their jobs. When I went on combat foot patrols with the infantry in Baghdad, the only thing the men in that unit cared about was that I spoke Arabic and they needed me to communicate with the local population. The only way my presence as a woman mattered was that it seemed to make the local people, especially the women, more comfortable and willing to approach us. During downtime with other units, there were a few sexualized jokes, but nothing that I found surprising or distressing after three years in the Army (and college before that – it did not come as any sort of shock to me that young men think and talk about sex quite a bit).

After major combat operations were over, however, things changed. I ended up at a remote combat outpost where I was the only woman around first seven or eight and then 20 or 30 men. We were about halfway through our deployment, so we’d gone for a long time with no break, but couldn’t yet see the light at the end of the tunnel. The sixth through eighth months were the worst, after that we could see a way out and things calmed down again. During that dark time, though, there was an overall breakdown in discipline. One guy refused to shave for a few weeks, a violation of Army regulations. Another cried and punched himself in the face all night one night. Within that larger context, I experienced a particularly egregious example of what I considered sexual harassment (although technically it meets the criteria for unwanted sexual contact or sexual assault): a fellow soldier pulled out his penis and tried to put my hand on it.

In the aftermath, I encountered responses from fellow soldiers that I should not “ruin his career” just because I “couldn’t take it.” Some asked, “What did you expect to happen when you joined a man’s Army?” This was not my chain of command, which I thought would have been receptive had I chosen to report the incident – it was the attitude I had encountered ever since joining the military from my male peers whenever discussing inappropriate sexual behavior by other male troops.

That bad act and the responses that followed dramatically altered my behavior and attitude. Prior to that incident, I thought I was “one of the guys.” For example, in periods of extreme boredom, they threw pebbles at each other’s groins; when they started throwing them at my breasts I felt accepted rather than harassed.

After the incident, I stopped joining in the jokes. I became colder, more aloof, and started insisting that I be treated with more professionalism and respect (it helped that I also got promoted soon after). I blamed myself for the incident, fearing I’d inadvertently given off signals that made him think his advances would be welcome.  I became convinced that in that particular setting – where we never got nights or weekends off to go home and relax with friends or loved ones, never got a break from the tension or each other – I couldn’t be myself. There was too much risk. I decided, that if I were friendly or outgoing, it could be misinterpreted as an invitation to more than just friendship.

Around this time, I also became much more judgmental of other women.

A man in my unit had a breakdown from the stress and had to be evacuated, and other men said, “Bob couldn’t take it.” A woman had to be flown to Germany to have a medical exam related to a change in her breast health, and men said, “This is why none of you belong here.” A man had to be medically evacuated after shooting himself in the leg in an accidental discharge, and the reaction was, “Jim is an idiot.” A woman got sent home after accidentally getting pregnant, and the response was, “This is why women don’t belong in combat.” In that setting, early in the war and serving with many men who had never served with military women before, I realized that I did not represent Kayla: I represented all women soldiers.

This responsibility weighed heavily on me. I developed a desire to be able to pass the male physical fitness test so men couldn’t claim I wasn’t strong enough to be there. I became focused on proving my worth and demonstrating that I was an asset to the mission, not merely for my own personal self respect but out of the desire to prove that women belonged in the combat zone, could accomplish the mission, deserved equal treatment and opportunities.

At the same time, when I met women who clearly had not internalized this desire, I began to resent and look down on them. I was angry that they made the rest of us look bad, upset that I had to pay a price when they had an ethical lapse, professional failure, or showed weakness. I felt no sense of “sisterhood” with the women I served with if they were not living up to the high standards I had begun to hold myself to, just irritation and disappointment.

Looking back on my military career, this is what I am most ashamed of. Despite enlisting a little later (I joined the Army at 22), for whatever reason I had not developed the emotional maturity or leadership skills to respond appropriately. I wish I could go back and tell my younger self to seize those opportunities as a way to help those women grow and mature professionally rather than just despising them.

Although that opportunity is lost, I am trying to do what I can to make up for it now. I take part in BPW’s Joining Forces Mentoring Plus and engage in informal peer mentoring. I am also openly and honestly admitting my past failings in speeches and writings, urging others to learn from my mistakes and do better than I did. While we must continue to address the structural inequalities and entrenched sexism that set the stage for some of the problems I encountered, it is also important that women work on how we respond to those circumstances, both individually and together.

About Kayla Williams

kaylaKayla Williams is a Truman National Security Project Fellow and the author of Love My Rifle More Than You: Young and Female in the US Army and the recently-released Plenty of Time When We Get Home: Love and Recovery in the Aftermath of War.

 

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