Archive: You Go Girl!

Have You Cracked a Glass Ceiling?

On Saturday, after a fun-filled mini-vacation at a friend's farm in Pennsylvania, I drove three hours with three...um...boisterous kids in back, dropped two off at soccer games in the sweltering D.C. heat, and then my nine-year-old daughter and I headed for Hillary Clinton's concession speech in downtown D.C. Why did I need to be there? Mommy Wars contributor Susan Cheever explained my reasons better than I could in her recent National Public Radio commentary, Why I Love Hillary: "Women like me usually run for president of the PTA or president of some nice arts organization. We don't usually get to run for president of the United States. At last, here's a woman who wants to play with the big boys, and she's qualified, and she's giving them a run for her money. And I love her for that." Meghan O'Rourke recently argued in Slate's Death of a Saleswoman that Clinton...

 

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | June 11, 2008; 07:10 AM ET | Comments (0)

Coaching Girls

One of my best friends and I met on a high school soccer field. We became friends when she and I discovered we were dating the same guy. But that's a story for a different day. Four years ago, now that we were grown-up married ladies with kids, including two daughters the same age, we decided to start a soccer team for girls. Lovely idea, right? Well, despite the fact that girls sports have changed dramatically since my days as a soccer forward, thanks to Title IX, the first problem was that we couldn't find an all-girls league for six year olds. Then we found a great local co-ed kids soccer league, but we couldn't find enough girls to fill a team. So, we took on a few token boys. We had eight great seasons together. One of my favorite coaching moments was when I asked the team to describe...

 

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | June 5, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (99)

Diamonds, Duds and Divorce

Okay, today's Thursday, but since a four-day On Balance holiday weekend starts tomorrow, let's pretend it's Friday. Here is our topic for today, shamelessly stolen from the May 26 issue of People Magazine: Diamonds are forever. Relationships, not so much. These two entrepreneurs help women sell the jewelry their ex-boyfriends and husbands leave behind. This is female entrepreneurship at its most unbalanced. A woman and her stepmother (who says they're all evil?) teamed up to start a Web site where women can sell the jewelry from their exes. They get to tell their stories of revenge and reinvention in the process. The site doesn't charge for the postings, making money instead from advertisements. And I have to say, the jewelry is gorgeous -- and a real bargain. Before you dismiss this topic as frivolous, I have to hand it to these women for providing a useful service. Sad but true:...

 

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | May 22, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (105)

What Are You Doing May 30th?

May 30th. The date has flashed in my head for months in pink neon. I've gotten three invitations so far. Men, scratching your heads? Women nodding? Yes, it's the opening date for the Sex and the City movie. Ten days from now. I'm counting the minutes -- although a fund-raiser for my kids' athletic center means I can't go with any of my girlfriend groups planning the ultimate girls' night out. Why does this foursome inspire so much female camaraderie? The New York Times reports in This One Goes Out to the Ladies -- and Their Friends that mobs of women across the country have made elaborate opening night plans (including flying en masse to Manhattan to see the movie on location). Seems to me the show appeals to women who see ourselves reflected in the four female characters, originally appearing in Candace Bushnell's novel and then coming to life...

 

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | May 21, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (112)

Mother's Day

I recently had the pleasure of joining the Mocha Moms on National Public Radio's Tell Me More program to discuss how our moms shape us as mothers and what gifts we'd like to pass on to our children, in honor of the upcoming 100th Mother's Day on Sunday. I talked about an epiphany I had when I started my anthology Mommy Wars, which explores the challenges women face in juggling work and family, I didn't ask any of the 26 contributors to write about their own mothers. But all 26 did anyway. I learned a good lesson: Our stories of motherhood start with our own moms. Sometimes we replicate what our moms did right; at times we rebel against their mistakes. But our mothers imprint upon us a template of motherhood that sticks with most women for our entire lives. I was lucky that my mom took to motherhood easily,...

 

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | May 8, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (112)

$100 Million Women

Two years ago, The Economist (subscription required) argued that investing in girls' education made good economic sense, since "women are now the most powerful engine of global growth." Later that same year, the success of microlending to businesswomen gained international respect when Muhammad Yunus was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for a program that lent small sums to Bangladeshi women. Now, the world's largest business bank and 16 business schools have come together to design programs and distribute $100 million to educate women around the globe, as reported in the AP's Goldman to Spend $100M Educating Women. Called 10,000 Women, the project --Goldman's biggest charitable donation--is backed by American schools such as the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Stanford Graduate School of Business, Harvard Business School and other schools that will work with local universities overseas to run the program.The initiative specifically plans to target women in the...

 

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | March 12, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (22)

The Hillary Effect on Young Girls

On Parenting's column last week about kids and voting, Bringing Up Voters, got me thinking about my nine-year-old daughter. For her, Super Tuesday was a bigger event than the Super Bowl. She stayed up until 10 p.m. tracking vote tallies and woke me at six the next morning to see the final results. She's curious about the mechanics of our voting system and which states matter most. She feels sorry for Ron Paul and Mike Gravel for getting so few votes. She is ecstatic that her birthday falls in early November, so that she will be able to vote only a few weeks after turning 18, nine long years from now. From age nine to 18, I expect she will learn a lot about the lack of balance in our country in terms of experiences and opportunities for men and women, and other forms of bias and prejudice. There's much...

 

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | February 11, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (119)

Legally Ambitious

Much of the discussion about work/life balance focuses on flexible schedules, parental leave policies, equal pay and career compromises. But it's not as politically correct to tackle how women -- and men -- can parent effectively without abandoning their ambitions. Since its founding in 1979, one voice has consistently insisted women can have it all: Working Mother magazine. Now, for the first time Working Mother, which also publishes the well-known Top 100 Companies for Women list, tackled one of the most competitive fields for men and women: law. Last week, the magazine and Flex-Time Lawyers banded together to announce the top law firms for women looking to strike a better work/life balance -- and climb to the top. Almost half of law school graduates over the past 15 years have been women, but we make up only 16 percent of equity partners (those who share in a firm's profits) in...

 

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | August 20, 2007; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (69)

No More Nancy Drew

I often look at my eight- and five-year-old daughters and wonder what their struggles will be balancing work and family as adult women. I don't think they will have as hard a time as my peers and I, American women born in the 1960s, have had. Much has changed for the better in the past 40 years. The majority of today's mothers work and thus enjoy the choices that come with economic independence. There are fewer and fewer glass ceilings for women to bash through (although enough remain to keep my daughters occupied, if they so choose). And this makes me oddly sad for my daughters. I'm sure they will have plenty of fascinating life challenges in other ways. However, as much as my inner mommy war drives me (and my family) nuts, belonging to this particular generation of American women has proven exhilarating, frustrating, and demanding -- and ultimately,...

 

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | July 11, 2007; 07:15 AM ET | Comments (355)

Blog to the White House

One of the most powerful unintended results of widespread Internet access is that individual voices can be heard in new ways on a national and international scale. You no longer have to be a journalist, a politician, an activist, writer or a hugely successful businessperson to make your opinions known. You don't have to work outside the home. You don't even have toleave your home or your desk, which is why mommy bloggers and mom Web sites have become a lifeline for working and stay-at-home mothers, who historically have often been too busy to organize in politically effective ways. BlogHer, a powerful online consortium of over 11,000 female bloggers, just announced a new campaign to use the Internet to harness women's opinions about the biggest global issues in our lives. The results will be funneled into BlogHer's Election '08 Voter Manifesto. BlogHer asks women to consider two simple questions: What...

 

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | June 11, 2007; 06:59 AM ET | Comments (0)

A Letter From The Other Side

Last Saturday, The Washington Post published The Case to Stay Home, a letter from Jennifer Wolff of Bowie, Md., who was responding to reporter Amy Joyce's Outlook article How to Handle the Return. Ms. Wolff, who described herself as a "full-time mother and homemaker," advised the pregnant Ms. Joyce to "follow her heart," which she clearly believed meant staying home full-time once her baby arrives in June. While I disagree with Ms. Wolff -- following your heart can also mean continuing to work once becoming a mom -- she went on to say something I fully endorse: "The Post, with all its working mothers, seems to almost exclusively print the viewpoints of mothers who work outside the home." Ms. Wolff is correct. A great deal of mainstream media coverage neglects the views of moms (and dads) who stay home. When mothers and fathers leave work, their voices, unfortunately, often get...

 

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | May 29, 2007; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Lower Taxes For Women?

In the United States, work is literally more rewarding for men than women. Men earn more -- the gap between wages paid women who perform the same job as men is stuck at roughly 77 cents to the dollar. Additionally, the so-called marriage tax penalizes second earners, usually women. Not surprisingly, women (in general) cease working at rates far greater than men, especially once we have children. In economic terms, women's elasticity of labor supply is higher than men's in the United States. Several reasons drive this behavior, the primary ones being lack of affordable, high-quality childcare and the fact that women earn significantly less than men do. The free labor market has failed to correct these inequities, although women have had access to the workforce in large numbers for over four decades. The solution to these gender-based labor inequities could be simple, according to new research, Gender Based Taxation,...

 

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | May 7, 2007; 07:05 AM ET | Comments (326)

Turning 50,000

Sometime today, in all likelihood, On Balance will reach a remarkable milestone: 50,000 comments in less than one year. The equivalent of at least five books. So. instead of our usual race to be the first poster, one of us will be the 50,000th. When washingtonpost.com asked me to start an online column about juggling work and family last year, I thought moms needed a forum to dish about our daily lives. What's surprised me most is that everyone -- fathers, babysitters, doctors, teachers, nannies, grandparents, and people who don't even have children -- have joined in. Since the blog's start, we've written hundreds of thousands of words dissecting 245 columns about supermoms, single moms, stepfamilies, postnups, the lies moms tell, our best (and worst) moments as moms and dads who stay home, Britney Spears, Anna Nicole Smith, Ann Richards, Linda Hirshman, business trips, guilt trips, and $100,000 nannies. Thanks...

 

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | March 7, 2007; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (547)

Breastfeeding at the Podium

Glorious moment last week: I was getting ready to lead a talk at the Wednesday Morning Group, a working and stay-at-home moms' networking organization in the Washington, D.C. area that meets one morning a week to discuss a parenting topic or listen to a speaker. The head of the group gave a brief, funny, wonderful introduction in front of about 120 moms. All while she breastfed her five-month-old daughter. Watching her effortlessly, unselfconsciously, confidently speak into the microphone while casually holding her baby to her right boob was one of those "aha" moments. When I had my first child 10 years ago, I remember how painfully difficult it was to breastfeed in front of others, and how most women retreated to a private room or even their cars when baby got hungry. Maybe if there had been men in the auditorium last week something would have been different, but I'm...

 

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | February 7, 2007; 07:13 AM ET | Comments (583)

$900 Billion Women

Fortune Magazine's October 16 issue, The 50 Most Powerful Women in Business, blows to smithereens the myth that ambitious women are opting out of work in favor of domestic tranquility. The issue features five different covers showcasing the United States' top seven female CEOs: Indra Nooyi (PepsiCo), Anne Mulcahy (Xerox), Meg Whitman (eBay), Pat Woertz (Archer Daniels Midland), Irene Rosenfeld (Kraft Foods), Brenda Barnes (Sara Lee) and Andrea Jung (Avon). The issue profiles the top 50 most successful women in business. The top 25 alone account for more than $900 billion in market capitalization and $250 billion in annual revenues. These stars range in age from 39 to 60; many have children, several do not. There is no doubt these are powerful mamas. Our economy is thriving in part because of them -- and because our capitalist culture has expanded over the last 40 years to let these women, and...

 

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | November 8, 2006; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Vote Today

Instead of a guest blog, let's talk about why we should vote today. Voting is a critical part of getting more balance in your life. Why? Because having politicians in office who represent what's important to you and your children as you go about juggling work and family is invaluable. Fifty-four percent of voters are women, yet only 10 percent of the candidates are women. Vote to put more women in office and give them a say in where our money goes. Vote to get into the habit of voting in every election, not just presidential ones. State and local politicians can have an even greater impact on families than national ones. Do you think our tax dollars should be spent on daycare or defense? Education or Iraq? Vote because if you don't vote you lose your right to complain about the world around you. Well, on this blog you...

 

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | November 7, 2006; 06:50 AM ET | Comments (0)

Wynonna on Motherhood

I spent two days last week in Kentucky with 2,000 other women at the annual Toyota In The Interest of Women conference. One high point was our lunch speaker, country music star Wynonna Judd, who I (embarrassingly) kept referring to as Winona Ryder (a terrible gaffe in Kentucky, Judd's home state). While I'm not a lifelong country music fan, Judd's voice is angelic, and I was impressed by the fact that Wynonna has sold over 30 million records. And I was very impressed by Judd's wisdom about balancing work and kids (she has three). Every mother's curse is being torn between work and family. Wow. Although the subject has been my primary focus for the last five years, I've yet to have someone describe the work/kids struggle so pessimistically. Good to know (I guess) that even the rich and famous are fighting inner mommy wars, too. Striving for perfection is...

 

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | October 23, 2006; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Breast Milk Versus Airport Security

Unless you are currently breastfeeding and traveling via airplanes these days, you may not have thought much about breast milk counting as one of the liquids banned from carry-on luggage. Lugging the pump around, finding a place to get half-naked and keeping the milk refrigerated seemed challenging enough at work, didn't it? But due to the new ban on liquids in carry-on airplane luggage, taking a breast-pump and milk on business trips has gotten a lot more complicated. Here's the limited guidance from the TSA site about getting breast milk on airplanes: Baby formula and breast milk are allowed in your carry-on baggage or personal items. You can take these through the security checkpoints and aboard your plane. However, you must be traveling with a baby or toddler. All items including formula or breast milk will be inspected. You or your baby or toddler will not be asked to test...

 

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | August 28, 2006; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (329)

Politicking The Working Mom Agenda

Happy Birthday, Kathleen Sebelius! Kansas's second female governor turned 58 on Monday. Two amazing accomplishments we all should thank her for. First, when she was Insurance Commissioner in Kansas, this working mom (she has two grown sons) instituted a policy similar to the Infants in the Workplace program run by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, which allows employees to set up cribs in their offices and bring babies to work until they're six months old. A handful of other employers currently offer similar programs, including the Department of Energy and many credit unions and banks. Can you imagine how much easier it would be to go back to work if all companies adopted this program? To get ammunition to bring to your human resources department, you can turn to the Work & Family Connection, an information clearinghouse. Second, in honor of Mother's Day, Governor Sebelius worked with the Democratic...

 

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | May 17, 2006; 06:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

Supermom?

A New York Times editorial that ran 12 years ago still haunts me. A letter from a stay-at-home mom read, "We see the walking wounded children of the self-important working mothers. Those needy souls would love to be a mother's project, the center of a mother's life. We wonder why these women chose parenthood." This sentiment bothers me no less today than it did a dozen years ago. I wish I could say that the world has changed since then, but I suspect that some stay-at-home mothers still misread working moms and their kids (and vice-versa, to be fair). No one disproves this accusation like a mom I met in Columbus, Ohio, a few weeks ago. Paula Penn-Nabrit is a fourth generation native of Columbus, where she was the only black student (and first black student-government president) in the 1972 class at Columbus School for Girls. She received her undergraduate...

 

By Leslie Morgan Steiner | April 6, 2006; 10:00 AM ET | Comments (0)

 

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