Carry the Spirit of Seneca Falls: Gender Parity in 2018 and Beyond


Carry the Spirit of Seneca Falls: Gender Parity in 2018 and Beyond

Gloria Feldt’s Remarks at Take The Lead Fundraising Event

Linda Stein’s Gallery,  100 Reade Street, NYC, July 18, 2018

Thank you, Linda Stein, for your generous introduction and endorsement of Take The Lead and for hosting this event in your wonderful gallery. Your unique combination of art and activism creates a magical space for tonight’s conversation. Thank you to our sponsors LMVH and Alala, the host committee, and Take The Lead board members. And thanks to each of you for coming.


Raise your hand if you tried on Linda’s armor. How did you feel when you had it on?

Yes, powerFULL is exactly what you looked like.

I’m Gloria Feldt, cofounder and president of Take The Lead. I’m here to tell you that together we WILL reach leadership gender parity by 2025.

Do we care the World Economic Forum says it will be 70-150 years? No! That’s because everyone here is working on some aspect of this issue, and it takes all of us because there is no one silver bullet.We’ll get to parity not just because we boldly say so. Although I do believe that when you put a bold and audacious mission forward you are quite likely to achieve it.

We’ll reach parity because of the convergence of three factors: 

  • The obvious simple justice: this is our moment in history

  • It’s the first time we’ve had the clear business case—when we can say to businesses that they will make more money when they have more women in leadership,

  • Take The Lead has the proven program that will make it happen.

Let me tell you about our work by calling out some of the incredible people responsible for parts of our mission, which is to prepare, develop, inspire, and propel women to take their fair and equal share of leadership positions across all sectors by 2025.


Kathleen Turner: She was our Voice of God for Take The Lead Day last November. She’s a passionate advocate and represents the many amazing volunteers who care deeply about women’s equality and gender parity, as well as the occasional big event we do to raise awareness about our mission and programs. Every since we started Take The Lead, people have resonated with it and want to get involved. We welcome that and need you all.

Regina Huber: She represents our Leadership Ambassadors who deliver on the prepare and develop part of our mission–the training and coaching in general and allow us to scale up to reach more people

Reshma Gopaldas: VP for Video at SheKnows Media, she represents the Inspire in our mission, our role model events. Reshma is now joining me as cohost of our Virtual Happy Hours and I am so thrilled about that.

Farai Chideya-Chihota: program officer at the Ford Foundation. She represents the thought leadership part of our mission – we are  super excited to announce the Ford Foundation will be funding our 50 Women in Journalism, set to launch in early 2019.

Laura Smith Dunaief – Director of our Leadership Ambassador program. I am only one person and our leadership ambassador program is how we scale up—we have about 25 Leadership Ambassadors. Laura is also lead trainer for 50 Women finance—launching this fall in NYC; we are excited to announce that Jacki Zehner and Rosie Rios are honorary chairs for that program.  If you are one of those women or know one of those women who should be one of the 50 Women in Finance, see Laura.

The 50 Women Can Change the World programs are our flagship, covering all aspects of our mission because we have learned that we have more impact by going deep instead of wide and by forming cohorts intentionally– the women in the programs form networks that support each other and help each other and sponsor each other. We have done them for women in nonprofits/social profits, healthcare, and media and entertainment. Coming up are human resources, finance, and journalism.

Applause for all!

Now: why it’s our moment in history:


300 people attended the first Women’s Rights Convention 170 years ago tomorrow in Seneca Falls.  Elizabeth Cady Stanton, one of the organizers, called for 11 resolutions “to declare our right to be free as man is free.”

We stand here tonight on the shoulders of generations of courageous women, grateful for what they began. And our job is to secure gender parity in leadership in all sectors so that women truly are free to be whatever they choose.  

Yes we are in a moment.

A moment where we must go from #metoo to #timesup to Take The Lead. The next great wave we must have to balance gender power is leadership parity. 

And Why Take The Lead

Connect the dots from #metoo to Time’s Up to gender parity in leadership. As I see it, it is a progression. That practical piece of moving women to parity in leadership is what Take The Lead does. That’s our unique niche. And balancing power is the only thing that will prevent harassment.

More women are running for office than ever before. 468 women have filed to run for the U.S. House – 151 have won their primary — 19 Democrats and 32 Republicans. 51 women are running for Senate.

How many of you think the world will be different when women are half of officeholders?

Yes, this is a rare inflection moment when big changes can be made. MUST be made. Not just in politics. In companies and caregiving. Work and wealth. Bedroom to boardroom. It has to be everywhere.

Because as Susan B Anthony said, failure is impossible.

While the #metoo movement has cracked open the recognition that the entire culture has been complicit in allowing abuse of power, Take The Lead has at its core change our definition of power so women have higher levels of intentionality and embrace their power to lead.

And so we say that we must be complicit in changing that power paradigm in order to achieve parity.

We must be Complicit for good.  Our own good -good of the world. Forever.

We all grow up in the same culture, so we all learn the same implicit biases. We can learn to recognize and overcome those biases. And we can be complicit to work together for Equal leadership. Equal power. Equal pay. Equal respect.

For until women are sharing equally in the power and money, we will keep fighting the same old battles over and over.

To be successful, women must embrace the power in our hands and men must join us full out.

We must understand that Power is not what we put on externally but who we are inside.

I have learned from my own life in social movements how valuable controversy and chaos can be to making change.


We are in a moment of chaos, when it seems that women are simultaneously going backward and taking steps, even giant steps at times, forward.

Both perceptions are accurate. You aren’t crazy. It’s in that creative chaos that new ideas are born, new worlds created. Carpe the chaos–power tool 5.

“Oh rebellious woman, to you the world looks in hope. Upon you has fallen the glorious task of bringing liberty to the earth and all the inhabitants thereof,” suffragist Matilda Joslyn Gage said in 1880. Gage was L. Frank Baum’s mother-in-law and she influenced him to include the many feminist allusions in the Wizard of Oz, including making Dorothy the leader and the smartest of the bunch.

In the same way that Take The Lead’s training, mentoring and coaching, role modeling, and thought leadership change the definition of power at the core, freeing women to break through barriers of systems and self-limitation, we can all be complicit for good in supporting leadership parity.

Tonight out from the shadows of history, we celebrate the present and share in the responsibility to shape the future. Now Take The Lead needs you to make the vision of our founding mothers and sisters real.

Together, let us carry the spirit of Seneca Falls into a fair and equal future.

Together, we will.

Thank you!

About the Author

Gloria Feldt,Co-Founder and President of Take The Lead, is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. She teaches "Women, Power, and Leadership" at Arizona State University and was named to Vanity Fair's Top 200 women Legends, Leaders, and Trailblazers.