How do we get to 50/50?

Issue 44– April 6, 2018


My husband and I were mindlessly watching a Seinfeld  rerun circa 1989, the year the “show about nothing” started, when an ancient computer in one scene caught my eye.It was a tiny-screened, block-shaped desktop like the one that had changed my life when I received it about that same time.  It had been sent to me by a way-ahead-of-it’s-time executive leadership course I was taking. The Western Behavioral Sciences Institute program was one of the first to create an online community of the sort that today is part of almost everyone’s daily life. I loved it!That laughably outdated, painfully slow desktop computer with the dial-up modem is a good reminder of the nature of social change.There are trailblazers like WBSI’s late visionary founder Richard Farson; there are the early adopters where I usually find myself; and there are latecomers brought – sometimes benignly, sometimes with violent backlash- into the new order.If you were riveted as I was to this week’s reminders of the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s tragic assassination, you sawthe backlash in its most evil incarnation.What does this have to do with gender parity?A lot, actually.If you think about it, the social, cultural, and legal shifts toward greater equality between men and women make for the most far-reaching social justice change in recorded history.Not that this cause is any more virtuous than any other group’s quest for equality and justice. But it’s most far-reaching because it affects literally everyone—the female half of the population because we are, well, female, and the male half because social status is always relational. A change in one role changes the other.And gender is after all the first, most pervasive identifying characteristic by which society defines us. At birth, if not before, we are thought about and spoken to differently based on gender.Most importantly, those definitions morph quickly into how social power is distributed.And nobody relinquishes power voluntarily.But the good news is no one has to.  Because it turns out that power isn’t a finite pie after all. The more there is the more there is, and the greater the human capacity for creativity and innovation.The trailblazers and early adopters get that. They not only adapt but welcome women into roles, including leadership and wealth parity that equalize the power balance.The latecomers, even those like Harvey Weinstein who on one level held progressive views, in actual practice remain mired in the old “power over” paradigm in which women are objects and anyone with less power are  prime targets for harassment and worse.Just like that old computer on Jerry Seinfeld’s desk in 1989 has been superseded by later generations of technological advancements, women’s advancement since then has been extraordinary. But it’s still an unfinished, and inherently intersectional, revolution.Enter #metoo that raises up women’s voices to say “no more” followed closely by Time’s Up’s meteoric growth, fueled by anger and propelled by the promise to sue the hell out of any individual or organization perpetrating sexual harassment or assault.Hell hath no fury like a woman who finally knows and embraces her righteous truth after being silenced for so many millennia.But then what?That’s where Take The Lead comes in with the only sustainable solution: parity.Want to stop talking about the problems and focus on the solutions? That’s what we’re all about.Grab a beverage of your choice and join me Wednesday, April 11, at 6:30pm for a free live Virtual Happy Hour where I’ll talk with three experts on how we’ll get to 50/50 gender parity in leadership, and you can ask them questions on the spot. These women—Tiffany Shlain, Glynda Carr and Kathy Coover—are experts not because they are theorists but because they are making it happen every day. Register here.How appropriately this will be happening the day after Equal Pay Day April 10!You’ll learn about a surprise profession where women can out-earn men, a global day of action for 50/50 leadership that you can participate in, and a powerful partnership initiative to prepare Black women for political office.  Plus get bonus giveaways only for people who register for the VHH.And of course we’ll share the latest on Take The Lead’s 50 Women Can Change the World – Media and Entertainment program, including an exclusive reception coming up Los Angeles April 17. Dm me @GloriaFeldt if that interests you.