BPW Foundation's Women Misbehavin' Blog

Well behaved women never make history

Posts Tagged ‘equality’

Equal Pay for Working Women Would Boost the Economy

Posted by YWM on February 6, 2014

Equal Pay DayFive years after the signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act-a bill that reinstated women’s ability to contest unlawful pay discrimination and the first bill signed into law by President Obama-analysis from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) finds that the poverty rate for working women would be cut in half if women were paid the same as comparable men, and that greater pay transparency would increase women’s pay.

Nearly 60 percent (59.3 percent) of women would earn more if working women were paid the same as men of the same age with similar education and hours of work. The poverty rate for all working women would be cut in half, falling to 3.9 percent from 8.1 percent. The high poverty rate for working single mothers would fall by nearly half, from 28.7 percent to 15.0 percent. For the 14.3 million single women living on their own, equal pay would mean a significant drop in poverty from 11.0 percent to 4.6 percent.

Persistent pay discrimination for women translates into lower wages and family income in families with a working woman. The gender pay gap also affects the economy as a whole: in 2012, the U.S. economy would have produced additional income of $447.6 billion (equal to 2.9 percent of 2012 GDP) if women received equal pay.

“Unequal pay for women has had a negative effect on women and men, alike,” said IWPR President Heidi Hartmann, Ph.D. “Paying women fairly for their work would go a long way in reducing poverty and giving the economy the jump start it needs.”

“Today, too many workers are discouraged from sharing the pay information that would give women the tools they need to challenge pay levels,” said IWPR Vice President and Executive Director Barbara Gault, Ph.D.

Nearly half of all workers are either prohibited or strongly discouraged from discussing their pay with their colleagues. The gender wage gap in the federal government-with high levels of pay transparency-is only 11 percent, compared with 23 percent nationwide.

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that conducts rigorous research and disseminates its findings to address the needs of women and their families, promote public dialogue, and strengthen communities and societies.


Posted in Equal Pay, Gender Discrimination, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

BPW Foundation Welcomes Diane Polangin to Board of Trustees

Posted by sherrysaunders on November 25, 2013

DPolanginBowie City Councilmember and Mayor Pro Tem, Diane Polangin has been elected to the Business and Professional Women’s (BPW) Foundation Board of Trustees. “Councilmember Polangin brings strong leadership skills, a broad knowledge of BPW Foundation history and policy issues, and a deep personal commitment to the challenges facing working women, that will greatly enhance BPW Foundation’s strategic programmatic capabilities,” said Roslyn Ridgeway, BPW Foundation Chair.

“Her long standing commitment to public service and community action, which includes her service as president of BPW/USA , BPW Foundation’s former sister organization, president of BPW/Maryland and CFO of the Business and Professional Women’s Education Foundation of  Maryland will be particularly relevant to her new duties on the BPW Foundation Board of Trustees,” Ridgeway said. “In addition, her serving as a mentor for S.O.C.S. (SomeOneCareS), a program for young women from Bowie High School and serving as chair and mentor for the Huntington Community Center’s Choices and Challenges Program, will be particularly valuable as BPW Foundation continues to expand our Joining Forces for Women Veterans and Military Spouses Mentoring Plus® efforts.”

“As a long time supporter and worker for women’s rights, a small business owner and an elected official, I am excited to have the opportunity to put my skills and talents to work for an organization that I greatly admire and have supported for years. I am grateful to the board for electing me and I look forward to supporting the BPW Foundation programs on behalf of working women across our country.” Councilmember Polangin said.

Polangin is the owner/operator of Total Tax Service in Bowie, Maryland. In this capacity, she provides services for businesses and individuals, including income tax preparation. She also is a notary public and teaches income tax preparation.

Previously, Polangin was a partner in a southern Maryland-based builder/developer company which developed over 1,000 acres with moderately-priced homes and two office buildings. For many years, she was administrator of an architectural firm where she was responsible for business development, contract negotiation and zoning matters, financial and personnel management, as well as client relations and the development of complex projects.

She is a member of the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers, National Society of Tax Professionals, Greater Bowie Chamber of Commerce, Soroptimist International of Bowie-Crofton, Business and Professional Women of Laurel and Maryland Business and Professional Women.

Diane has received awards from the city, county, and state government and from several national organizations for her community service and her national advocacy of women’s issues, such as domestic violence, equal pay for equal work and other family issues. Councilmember Polangin was elected to the Bowie City Council in 2007 and re-elected in November 2009, 2011 and 2013.

Posted in Small Business, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Equal Pay Act is 50 Years Old

Posted by YWM on June 10, 2013

President John F. Kennedy signs the 1963 Equal Pay Act into law as BPW/USA president Dr. Minnie Miles watches.

President John F. Kennedy signs the 1963 Equal Pay Act into law as BPW/USA president Dr. Minnie Miles watches.

50 years ago today, President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law and BPW was there.  BPW/USA President, Dr. Minne Miles (second from the right)  attended the event and received one of the signing pens.  She would be surprised that 50 years later there is still work to be done to close the wage gap.

Posted in Wage Gap | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

ERA Three-State Strategy

Posted by YWM on April 24, 2013

By Elisabeth Gehl

era-buttonDespite the gains women have made, women need a Constitutional guarantee to equality to prevent the many victories women have won over the past several decades being erased through Congressional legislative action.  The Equal Rights Amendment was first unveiled in Seneca Falls, N.Y., in 1923 at the 75th anniversary of the 1848 Women’s Rights Convention. Congress passed the amendment in 1972, but it died a decade later because it failed to win ratification by three-fourths of the states within a pre-set time limit.

Since that time, federal lawmakers have attempted to revive the ERA by introducing bills that would amend the Constitution and require three-fourths of the states to approve the amendment, or through the introduction of a “three-state strategy” for ERA ratification.

A “three-state strategy” for ERA ratification was developed after the 27th (“Madison”) Amendment, originally passed by Congress in 1789, was added to the Constitution in 1992.  Many ERA supporters contend that since a 203-year ratification period was accepted, the ERA’s ratification remains “sufficiently contemporaneous” as required.  In extending the original deadline, Congress demonstrated that the ERA’s time limit is open to change and  could therefore amend or repeal the time limit and affirm state ratifications which occurred after 1982, thereby keeping alive the 35 ratifications from 1972-1982.

This month Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) is keeping the “three-state strategy” effort moving forward by re-introducing a bill that would require only three more states to complete the ERA ratification process.  Senator Ben Cardin’s office is sending out a Dear Colleague letter to recruit original co-sponsors of this legislation, and his office has asked that women’s organizations provide their endorsement of the legislation.  BPW Foundation has added its name as a supporter of the “three-state strategy” bill, and will continue our strong support of seeing ERA ratification completed in this Congress.   Let your Senator know that you want them to sign on as co-sponsors.

Posted in ERA, legislation, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Summit at West Point

Posted by Joan Grey on April 17, 2013

Sue Fulton photo

Brenda S. “Sue” Fulton
Board Member, OutServe-SLDN

This article was first posted on the Huffington Post.

As West Point conferences go, it was a great event at the United States Military Academy this past weekend. Graduates from many different walks of life attended; a 2002 grad, currently leading the Illinois Dept. of Veterans’ Affairs, talked about how Army and Academy experience informed support for veterans. A cadet panel impressed the “Old Grads” with their tales of tough field training and international adventures — one combat-arms-destined senior joked about being nicknamed “Ranger Roger” by other cadets.

In a panel about healing, a survivor of severe spinal cord injury from a parachute accident (not the only grad in the room with that experience) joined a cancer survivor to talk about their work helping others with more serious problems. A two-star general spoke movingly of eleven soldiers lost on deployment in Iraq, while another general nodded mutely; another senior officer talked about realizing that a third deployment had triggered PTSD symptoms.

The head of the Academy’s Psychology curriculum talked about “resiliency training,” preparing troops to survive the emotional challenges of battle. A Navy Captain talked about flying combat aircraft.

The dinner speaker, whose remarkable resume included for-profit and nonprofit leadership, an award-winning book and a run for Congress inspired and entertained the audience with the story of making a bid to compete as a bobsledder in the 2002 Winter Olympics, and coaching young volleyball players.

Most moving was the memorial. The reading of names of those lost: on the battlefield, to cancer, some tragically to suicide. The Chaplain — yet another West Point grad — reminding us of the business we’re in, and how the reminder of death can keep us living life, every second, in support of our values and our personal missions. The playing of taps. And the sound of voices raised, many tear-filled, singing the verses of the Alma Mater.

In particular, that last — the raised voices — was stunning. Because all the voices were female.

This was the West Point Women’s Summit, and each of those mentioned above (except Navy Captain Michelle Guidry) was a woman graduate (or cadet) of the Academy: Erica Borggren ’02, Cadet Sara Roger ’13, Nancy Hogan ’95, Joan Grey ’80, Lil Pfluke ’80, MG Heidi Brown ’81, BG (ret) Anne McDonald ’80, COL Donna Brazil ’83, Donna McAleer ’87, Cynthia Lindenmeyer ’90.

The class of ’80 — the first class to include women — was well-represented, as 17 of those 62 graduates attended. Perhaps the ’80 women are particularly fearless, but they were not the only ones raising their voices during raucous panels to correct a fact or challenge a position.

A panel about combat roles for women included three male combat vets talking about why including women in these roles was important for the Army, and they were joined by the aforementioned Navy pilot, a blunt and commanding woman who pointed out tersely that “it’s all about performance. Period.” They were joined on the panel by a somewhat-overmatched Colonel sent by the Army G-1 staff (a woman, perhaps not coincidentally) who had the thankless task of explaining why it would take three years of study to implement the Secretary of Defense’s lifting of the ban this year.

In response to a question, the G-1 Colonel said, “We would love to have your input, but with current funding levels, we can’t afford to bring people in for these discussions…”

“Everybody in this room,” interrupted Capt. Guidry, “who would travel anywhere, any time, on your own dime, to provide input on this issue, raise your hands.” Almost every hand went up as she sat back in her chair.

In a briefing about the current status of the Cadet Corps, attendees sharply challenged the gender composition, currently at 16%, “to match the percentage of women in the Army.”

“Why would you match the current composition, when it’s clearly going to rise?” argued one. “We need to lead on this, not follow!” The point that matching the Army’s current percentage in a new class of plebes doesn’t even match the Army’s subsequent requirement for lieutenants four years later, much less senior officers for the Army of 2025 and beyond, who seemed not to have been considered.

Another: “Just because the Army’s at 16% doesn’t make it right, or good for the Army! There’s no real effort to attract talented women.”

Another: “We know there are issues of culture at West Point. Women think that a male mentor is better than a woman mentor — a direct consequence of keeping them at an arbitrary low number.”

Another: “Data shows that at levels below 20%, any group will have a minority mindset, and that’s why you have some of these issues. You need 30-35% women here to have a healthy culture.”

There was as much laughter as contention throughout the weekend, as many old-grad stories were trotted out, but the gathering was infused with a reverence and respect for the young officers currently fighting our battles. Toward the end, the conference was interrupted with the news that the husband of an attendee — herself a company commander — had been shot in Afghanistan. We gathered around her in prayer.

This is the business we’re in. And we never forget it. Those of us who no longer wear the uniform never forget our debt. The one thing we share was articulated by dinner speaker Donna McAleer ’87, as she was honored for her own service: “Our oath to our country, to the Constitution, our commitment to serve, has no expiration date.”

33 years after women first graduated West Point, we know what women can do. If the Army is ever to “be all that we can be,” we need to stop marginalizing women.

West Point Women @ Summit, April 2013

West Point Women @ Summit, April 2013

Brenda S. “Sue” Fulton is a 1980 West Point graduate, part of the first class to admit women. She was commissioned in the Army, served as a platoon leader and company commander in Germany, and was honorably discharged at the rank of Captain. She currently serves on the board of OutServe-SLDN, and was appointed by President Obama as the first openly gay member of the West Point Board of Visitors. Fulton lives in Asbury Park, NJ, with her wife Penny Gnesin.

Posted in Career Advancement, Feminism, Joining Forces for Women Veterans, Military, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Military Women Know How to ‘Lean In’

Posted by YWM on April 5, 2013

kayla_head_shot_normalKayla Williams
Author, Truman National Security Project Fellow
This article was first posted on the Huffington Post.

There have been dozens of op-eds and blogs circulating recently in response to Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, and I’ve been devouring them in my limited free time. As a member of one of the key demographics her book targets — a working woman with small children — that means I’ve peered at many of them on the tiny screen of my smartphone in spare moments on the train or while my kids nap. The cross-talk about structural changes is, of course, valuable as we lobby for necessary systemic shifts.

While reading all the opinions, I realized that the Army already taught me how to lean in on a personal level. Serving in the military taught me a number of skills that have been essential to my success since I reentered the civilian world — and contain valuable lessons for other women:

1. Presentation Matters

How you present yourself in the military is often governed by regulation: the wear of the uniform, acceptable haircuts or hairstyles, even authorized shades of eyeshadow or nail polish are laid out. Part of this is for uniformity — but the degree to which you choose to obey the regulations in given circumstances and how much care you put into your appearance sends other signals as well. Showing up to a promotion board in a wrinkled uniform and unpolished boots would be noted unfavorably by those rating your readiness to rise in the ranks. In the early stages of my Army career, my male colleagues often ignored me because I didn’t communicate with confidence — what is known as ‘command voice’ in the military.

This carries over in the civilian world. Though dress codes are not laid out in regulation, the informal rules about appropriate attire can be just as important. People consider women wearing some — but not too much — makeup more competent. The evidence shows that women have plenty of experience listening to “mansplaining”: research has shown that men tend to lecture women even when women have more expertise on a given topic. The unfortunate habit of ending sentences on a questioning ‘up-note’ may add to that by making some women sound unsure of themselves. Posture is another key part of self-presentation: I can often recognize my fellow veterans by that alone. Those who have served in the military tend to stand up straight. When we lean in, it is not with slumped shoulders. And it matters: not only are others more likely to respect those with expansive posture, it also makes you feel more powerful and be more likely to take action.

2. Emotional Control

I got fired from my second job out of college partly because I couldn’t control my emotions in the office. My new boss and I did not get along, and she was a yeller. Several times after she publicly yelled at me for perceived failings, I cried in front of my colleagues. This experience indirectly led to my enlistment: when weighing my options, I clearly remember thinking “I bet in basic training I’ll learn to get screamed at without bursting into tears.” And I was right: I developed the ability to push down anger, frustration, humiliation and grief until the time was more appropriate.

This skill was particularly important as a woman: We are automatically assumed to be more emotional. Men who tear up after tragedies are seen as compassionate; women who do the same as weak. I may find this ridiculous and work to change that misperception, but in the meantime, I also know that I have to work harder to overcome that stereotype. In the civilian world, my ability to remain calm, cool and collected while men around me lost their tempers has given me tremendous credibility — and when I do show a flash of genuine anger, it is taken more seriously for being rare. Emotional control is a tremendous asset.

3. Prioritization, Planning and Decisiveness.

When I was in Iraq, I was promoted to sergeant and put in charge of a team. As the team lead, I was responsible for accomplishing missions while also ensuring my team had all necessary equipment and supplies. We had a limited amount of space to carry our technical equipment, food, water, clothing and other personal supplies, weapons, fuel and more. As the leader, you can solicit input — but when it comes down to the moment, you must be decisive — and possibly ruthless in choosing priorities. The military teaches a process called “backwards planning” that is inherently logical: You take the desired end state and figure out what interim tasks need to be accomplished in order for that to be reached. I use this constantly both at work and at home: If a report is due on the last day of March, I sit down and count out exactly how many days it takes to go through the publications process and review to determine when a final draft must be complete, count back from there to determine when a rough draft is due, and so forth.

My husband and I both have full-time jobs, and we have two small children. Each day is a careful dance: if we leave the house fifteen minutes late, worsening traffic means we’ll actually be half an hour late to work. We’ve decided to prioritize eating home-cooked dinners together as a family, and making that happen requires careful menu planning, grocery shopping, timing and communication. I value sleep more than cleaning — so the house gets messy, and we pay a cleaning service to come every two weeks. If we want to go on a date, we have to arrange for a babysitter weeks in advance. Personally and professionally, I constantly rank priorities, backwards plan to accomplish goals and make swift decisions when necessary. Too many people hem and haw on decisions until it is too late and their preferred option is no longer available or are unable to backwards plan and end up delivering projects late; managers seem to genuinely believe they can tell subordinates that “everything is top priority.”

4. Perspective

On my wedding day, the organizer repeatedly told me I was the calmest bride she’d ever seen. This baffled me — it was a happy day, a celebration of love. What was there to worry about? My sister, who had my dress, had gotten lost and was running a bit late. I wasn’t worried — the event would not start without me! The same thing happens when I give speeches or appear on television; people are surprised that I am calm. “What’s the worst possible outcome?” I ask, then answer: “I’d be temporarily embarrassed if I say something stupid. No one is shooting at me.” That sense of perspective may be the most important lesson I brought back from Iraq: if no one is going to die, it probably isn’t worth a high degree of panic.

5. Strength

I didn’t know if I could make it in the military when I enlisted. The Army invests a great deal of resources training troops — by the time we went to war, in addition to training on how to speak Arabic and do my job, I’d spent hours drilling on how to use my weapon, work with my team, perform first aid and more, not to mention the daily physical fitness training. After years of vaguely feeling that my body was just something men looked at, it was something of a surprise for me to learn that with practice, it could run 7 miles, carry a 35-lb rucksack 12 miles in under 4 hours, do 55 pushups in two minutes, and more. (After my daughter was born, I had a similarly-startling realization that my breasts are not just ornamental, they can make food for another human being.)

When I was called to translate as we provided first aid for three injured civilians, it was tremendously calming and affirming to feel that training kick in: Knowing where in the medical supply kit to find what supplies was practically muscle memory. I could see the infantry troops naturally take up a defensive perimeter and scan their sectors of fire: It was a fluid, practiced event. For hours, I did what I had to do, forgetting to eat or drink. It wasn’t until we got in the Humvee to head back that the emotional side hit me — along with hunger and thirst. I hadn’t fallen apart or freaked out. I had done my job. Being prepared was an important part of that, as was not having to do it alone: I was powerfully aware of being part of a team.

Today, that knowledge of my own strength and competence stays with me like a talisman. It gives me pride and confidence to know that if I see a car accident on the way home, I can stop and provide emergency first aid until professional assistance arrives — I won’t faint or panic at the sight of blood or gore. When things are rough, I tell myself, “If I could handle a year in Iraq, I can handle this.” I’m not special –but humans are tough. But numerous studies have shown that women underestimate their abilities. Find ways to recognize your own strength.

The military is not right for everyone, and it can be a tremendously difficult place for women. Women in the military face promotion gaps at some ranks in some services, are less likely to reenlist and disproportionately face sexual harassment and assault. But military women get equal pay for equal work: base pay is calculated from time in grade and time in service. We also have access to the same health care, family support and education benefits that have made military service attractive to so many.

The internal benefits, however, have been most important to me. My time in the military taught me how to present myself effectively; control my emotions; prioritize, plan and be decisive; maintain perspective; and know my strength. Some women may gain those abilities in other settings, but college and work alone had not developed them in me. These skills have been both professionally and personally valuable: today, I’m a published author and recognized advocate who balances full-time work, motherhood and an active public role. The Army taught me to lean in — and to stand up straight and use my command voice while I do. I’m grateful.

Posted in Career Advancement, Equal Pay, Joining Forces for Women Veterans, Military, Uncategorized, Women Veterans | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Women Veterans Speak Out: Women Are Fit for Combat

Posted by YWM on January 28, 2013

By Brenda S. “Sue” Fulton
This article first appeared on the Huffington Post

Sue FultonWhen the first class of women at West Point were introduced to the infamous Indoor Obstacle Course, we were confronted with a series of challenges almost entirely geared to upper body strength. About ¾ of the way through, we had to get over “the wall” — an eight foot vertical chunk of heavy wood. We were coached in the “approved solution”: jump up and grab the top of the wall, do a pull-up to get your shoulders above the top of the wall, then flip your body over.

A solution that violated the laws of physics for non-male people whose center of gravity was somewhere below their shoulders.

In short order, we figured it out for ourselves: grab the top of the wall, hook your ankle over it, then your knee, then leverage the rest of your body over. Instructors observed, and taught subsequent classes the new technique, and soon women were conquering the obstacle at the same speed as the men.

In the wake of Secretary Panetta’s historic decision to eliminate the combat exclusion rule for women, there will be much angst about women lacking the physical strength to perform in combat. The handwringing ignores some key “facts on the ground.”

First, the business about the “average woman” being unable to carry a 200-lb man to safety. For starters, most service members are wiry and lean; they weigh far less than 200 lbs. And not for nothin’, I’m six feet tall, and when I graduated West Point in 1980, weighed 175 pounds. Today’s average infantryman couldn’t carry ME off the battlefield. And the “average” woman (or man) doesn’t volunteer for the military. My West Point roommate could do 13 pull-ups. Ran the two mile in 12:50… in combat boots. My classmate Lil Pfluke — a world-class athlete, even in her fifties, after surviving breast cancer — once fought to enter Ranger School, and the guys who know her believed she could pass easily.

Yes, these are West Pointers. And yes, many military women — like many military men — have no interest in the combat arms. But why would we deny an otherwise-qualified individual the right to serve in whatever capacity they choose?

Finally, there is the most important fact: women are already in combat. They have been fighting, winning, getting wounded, losing limbs and dying on the battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan (and earlier) for as long as we have fought those wars.

So, we can argue about push-ups, pull-ups, and body-carries — but just as in the Indoor Obstacle Course, it’s not about how you do it, it’s about getting it done. Women have been fighting, in MP units, in convoys, in FETs, everywhere, and they have figured out how to get the job done. They get over the wall.

So why does it matter?

If we continue to pretend that women aren’t in combat, and close some roles to them, we deny them the promotions that go to the men they fought next to, because “the guy is a combat vet.” We make it much harder for them to access care for combat-related health issues, including PTSD, that women sometimes find themselves “ineligible” for. We perpetuate the myth that women aren’t really warriors — and in the military culture that means you are worth less.

We can, and must, show the respect due our women warriors: fitness for service is not limited by your gender. Secretary Panetta has taken the first step. I look forward to a thoughtful, data-based, but not endless process where we do this right. The new Defense Secretary must lead the Pentagon to set gender-neutral standards that pertain to the job that must be done. Integrate women effectively into units in ways that are constructive, not disruptive. And we will make our military better and stronger by assigning and promoting based on merit, nothing else.

We may even discover that push-ups are not the best measure of combat survival and victory.

Brenda S. “Sue” Fulton is a 1980 West Point graduate, part of the first class to admit women. She was commissioned in the Army, served as a platoon leader and company commander in Germany, and was honorably discharged at the rank of Captain. She currently serves on the board of OutServe-SLDN, and was appointed by President Obama as the first openly gay member of the West Point Board of Visitors. Fulton lives in Asbury Park, NJ, with her wife Penny Gnesin.

Posted in Joining Forces for Women Veterans, Military, Uncategorized, Veterans, Women Veterans | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

US Navy Commands Encouraged to Celebrate Women’s Equality Day

Posted by YWM on August 22, 2012

Would the women of the suffrage movement been surprised by how far we have come since getting the vote in 1920?  Did they foresee women serving side-by- side with men in the military?  Not only are we serving but the Armed Services are celebrating women and women’s equality.  Here is an article from the US Navy on Women’s Equality Day.

By Ensign Amber Lynn Daniel, Diversity and Inclusion Public Affairs

Established by Congress in 1971, Women’s Equality Day was designed to commemorate the long struggle of generations of women to gain the right to vote.

The observance also calls attention to women’s continuing efforts today towards full equality.

The women’s suffrage movement began in 1848 at the Seneca Falls Convention in Seneca Falls, N.Y. Convened by suffragist leaders Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, the committee published a “Declaration of Sentiments.” The declaration outlined key social, civil and political demands for women, helping the cause of women’s suffrage gain national prominence. Nearly 72 years later, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was passed Aug. 26, 1920, granting women throughout the United States the right to vote.

In 1971, to honor and commemorate the passing of the 19th Amendment, U.S. Rep. Bella Abzug introduced a resolution to designate Aug. 26 as the annual Women’s Equality Day. Today, the observance recognizes the anniversary of women’s suffrage and of the continued efforts toward equal rights in the United States.

All Navy commands are encouraged to reflect on and celebrate the accomplishments of women in the armed services during this observance.

Women first entered Naval service in 1908 with the establishment of the Navy Nurse Corps, 12 years before women were granted the right to vote. Women continued to serve in the Navy in varying capacities throughout World War I and World War II, but it was not until June 12, 1948, with the passage of the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act that women gained permanent status in the U.S. armed services. The first six enlisted women were sworn into regular U.S. Navy service July 7, 1948. Four months later the first eight female Naval officers were commissioned Oct. 15, 1948.

Women were first assigned to selected non-combatant ships in 1978, and opportunities were later broadened to include service on warships in 1994 following the repeal of the combat exclusion law. In April 2010, the Navy announced a policy change allowing female officers to serve on submarines. Today, 95 percent of Navy billets are open to the assignment of women.

This year has been a landmark year for women in the Navy. The year kicked off with five women making naval history as the first all-female E-2C Hawkeye crew to fly a combat mission. Plane Commander Lt. Cmdr. Tara Refo, Mission Commander Lt. Cmdr.

ARABIAN SEA (Aug. 26, 2010) An all-female line-handling team guides the phone and distance line from the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) to the Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Big Horn (T-AO 198) during a replenishment at sea (RAS). Harry S. Truman’s deck department used an all-female crew at one of the RAS stations to commemorate Women’s Equality Month in the Navy. The Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike group is deployed supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kilho Park/Released)

Brandy Jackson, Second Pilot Lt. Ashley Ruic, Air Control Officer Lt. Nydia Driver, and Radar Operator Lt. j.g. Ashley Ellison were assigned to Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 125, embarked aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) as part of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17 when they made their historic flight Jan. 25.

Two days later, the Navy honored the passing of the fleet’s first female aircraft handling officer, Lt. Cmdr. Regina Mills, during a ceremony Jan. 27 in Bremerton, Wash. More than 2,000 family members, friends, and shipmates assembled aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) to pay respect to Mills, who was struck and killed by a vehicle when she stopped to assist others involved in a traffic collision in Gig Harbor, Wash., Jan. 23.

In April, the Navy bid fair winds and following seas to one of the original female surface warfare trailblazers, Vice Adm. Ann Rondeau. Rondeau holds the distinction of serving as the first warfare qualified female admiral and, prior to her retirement, was the highest ranking female flag officer in the Navy. She retired after 38 years of dedicated naval service.

Later that month, Rear Adm. Michelle Howard was nominated for appointment to the rank of Vice Admiral April 16. If confirmed, Howard would become the first female African American three star admiral. In July, Vice Adm. Nanette DeRenzi was assigned as Judge Advocate General of the Navy. De Renzi is the highest ranking female in the Judge Advocate General Corps, and is the first woman to hold the Judge Advocate General Corps’ most senior position. Vice Adm. Robin Braun, the highest ranking female aviator in the Navy, became chief of the Navy Reserve Aug. 13, and is the first woman to hold the post.

There are currently 35 female flag officers in the Navy; 21 represent the active duty component, and 14 represent the Reserve component.

Enlisted women also made notable accomplishments during 2012. In May, Command Master Chief (AW/SW) JoAnn M. Ortloff became Fleet Master Chief for Commander, Naval Forces Europe and Africa. Upon her selection, Ortloff became the highest ranking enlisted woman in the Navy, and only the second woman to reach the position of fleet master chief.

Command Master Chief (AW/SW) April Beldo continued her tradition of breaking barriers for women when she assumed her new position as force master chief of Naval Education and Training Command (NETC), the first African American woman to do so. Beldo arrived at NETC in April after serving aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), where she held the title of the first female African American command master chief of a nuclear aircraft carrier. She is currently the only woman serving as a force master chief in the Navy.

Policy changes affecting women serving in the Navy also took shape in 2012. The Department of Defense announced changes to the 1994 Direct Ground Combat Definition and Assignment Rule Feb. 9. The changes were implemented in May, opening an additional 14,325 positions throughout the Department of Defense previously closed to women.

Today, 54,537 women serve in the Navy on active duty or in the Reserve, comprising 17 percent of the force. Additionally, nearly 50,000 women serve across the Navy in a wide range of specialties as civilian employees.

For more information on women in the Navy, visit http://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/organization/bupers/WomensPolicy/Pages/default.aspx.

Posted in Diversity, Military, Non Traditional Jobs, Uncategorized, Women's Equality Day | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

HERvotes Blog Carnival: Taking Care of Women

Posted by YWM on August 1, 2012

President/Chair League of Women Voters/League of Women Voters Education Fund 

There is more good news coming this week for women because of the Affordable Health Care Act (ACA). Beginning August 1st, millions of women around the country will be able to receive free preventive health care benefits. So, what does this mean in the day-to-day lives of women? A whole lot for their health!

In a nutshell: Under the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) new guidelines, women will no longer have to pay for preventive health care.

Specifically, health insurance plans will be required to fully cover these vital services: well-woman visits; domestic violence screening and counseling; breastfeeding support, supplies and counseling; FDA-approved contraception methods and counseling; screening for gestational diabetes; human papillomavirus DNA testing for women 30 and older; counseling for sexually-transmitted infections; and HIV screening and counseling.

This means there will be no co-pay, no co-insurance and no deductible charges for these services! Annual health insurance policies that begin on or after August 1, 2012, are required to include these benefits, and any plans and issuing companies that have not received special clearance are also required to cover these services.

This wonderful news comes on the heels of last summer’s new insurance market rules under the ACA, which provided for mammograms, cervical cancer screening, prenatal care, colonoscopies, blood pressure checks and childhood immunizations at no charge, along with ACA recommended Medicare-related free preventive services.

In addition to the ACA’s benefits already in effect (and including allowed parental coverage for millions of youth 26 and under), these new benefits for women are a huge step forward in providing quality health care for everyone. Find more information at Healthcare.gov, managed by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

The League of Women Voters worked hard to help pass the ACA. We cheered when the House passed ACA and when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in its favor in June. Today, we applaud HRSA’s new guidelines for women’s preventive health care, a big step forward for women’s health!

HERvotes Blog Carnival: Join us by sharing this and the posts below on Facebook, Twitter (using the hashtag #HERvotes), and other social media.

Posted in Health, HERvotes, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Equal Pay For All or At Least the Blondes

Posted by YWM on July 31, 2012

Our guest blogger today is Danielle Eisner, a small business owner in South Carolina and a member of BPW/Breakfast of Spartanburg, SC.  This blog is adapted from a speech she gave March 24, 2012 for the BPW/South Carolina Young Careerist competition. We congratulate Danielle on being selected South Carolina’s 2012 Young Careerist. 

 Equal Pay For All

My name is Danielle Eisner and I own a wedding venue in Spartanburg, SC.  Business has been good, so I would like to hire ALL of you ladies out there to help me work the wedding events.  Champagne and wedding cake for everyone!  BUT, since I am blonde and rumor has it that blondes have more fun, I am going to pay my blonde employees more than my brunette employees.  Now, now brunettes, I don’t care how many weddings you’ve attended in the past, or if you were the life of the party in college – in my mind, none of that qualifies you to earn as much as the blondes.  And since I’m the owner of the business, I can make the rules and pay y’all whatever I want, even if you’re doing the exact same job.

 Sound ridiculous?

Well, it is ridiculous.  It is ridiculous that two people can be paid different wages for the same work. And gender or race (or hair color) most certainly should not determine a person’s salary.  The Equal Pay Act was passed in 1963, making it illegal for employers to pay unequal wages to men and women who perform the same work.  Back then, women earned 59 cents to every dollar earned by men.  In 2009, the gap narrowed to 77%.  I suppose we should be thrilled with our “raise”, earning 77 cents to every dollar a man makes in the same job.  But the fact is women are still being discriminated against in the workplace.  And the wage gap is even greater for minorities, with African American women earning 69% of men and Latina women earning only 59% of men in the workplace[1].

SO, how do we change this?  Education is the number one tool we have in this fight against pay discrimination against women and minorities.  We need to make everyone aware about pay inequity – women AND men, business owners, managers AND workers.  The more we talk about the issue, the more support and momentum we can gain, and hopefully we can forge some REAL change, both legislatively and in actual business practices.

We all took a first step by joining a women-focused professional organization. Business and Professional Women’s Foundation empowers working women to achieve their full potential, and creates Successful Workplaces which value the skills of working women and practice work/life balance, equity and diversity.  By introducing new women to BPW, we can educate and empower other women in the workforce.

We need to encourage every working woman (and sympathetic man) we know to contact our local legislators to tell them how important equal pay is to us.  We should ask them to sign a Fair Pay Pledge, indicating that they will support pay equality legislation (including the Paycheck Fairness Act) and they will ensure pay equity practices in their own businesses.

We should support and encourage participation in local activities on Equal Pay Day.  Equal Pay Day was started in 1996 as a public awareness event to illustrate the gap between men’s and women’s wages[1].  This year Equal Pay Day was Tuesday, April 17.  Because women earn less, on average, than men, they must work longer for the same amount of pay, and April 17th symbolized how far into 2012 women needed to work to earn what men earned in 2011.   Equal Pay Day events are used to educate the community that Equal Pay isn’t just a “women’s issue”, but it’s a “business issue” too and the pay disparities effects the economic stability of the entire community.

On behalf of BPW, let’s bring “The Wage Project workshops to our local community.  Did you know that year out of college; women working full-time earn only 80% as much as their male colleagues[1]?  That wage gap will only increase, and that girl has the potential to earn roughly 1 million dollars less than a man over the course of her career.  Smart Campus Negotiation Workshops provide college women the knowledge and skills to negotiate salaries and benefits.  The Wage Project also offers salary negotiation workshops for working women and women returning to the workforce.

Lastly, we should each encourage our OWN places of employment to do a Workplace Pay Audit to discover if discrimination is happening in our own backyard. Let’s try to make some real changes at the local level.  Employers play a major role in ending the wage gap and treating women fairly in the workplace.  BPW has an Employer Pay Equity Self-Audit tool on its website to help businesses do a self-evaluation of their recruitment and promotion processes, and to help establish consistent and fair pay practices for all workers.

Achieving pay equity is within our reach.  Together, we can educate the public and with more voices we can make a difference.

You can learn more about Danielle Eisner and her business  by visiting her website http://www.duncanestate.com/ or her Facebook page www.Facebook.com/Duncan.Estate.SC

Posted in Equal Pay, Equal Pay Day, Misbehavin' Notification, Pay Equity, Uncategorized, Wage Gap | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »