At 6:30am on a rainy morning, I gathered my camera and a cup of coffee and embarked on a journalistic adventure. This adventure for me is a monthly routine for the women I set off to meet: members of the National Association of Women Business Owners, or NAWBO. Founded in 1975 in Washington DC, NAWBO is the only dues-based organization nationwide to represent women entrepreneurs across all industries. The SF Bay Area chapter, founded in 1978, sponsors a variety of activities every month to join women together in order to collaborate, network, and ultimately expand their businesses and succeed as strong women. Since women only represent a fraction of business owners and less than 2% of Fortune 500 CEOs, this in-person communication serves as a crucial tool in order to get ahead in the male-dominated workplace.
Karen Purcell says when she’s at work, not only do her clients automatically look for a male in need of an answer even if they are fresh out of school, but, “[gets] called ‘honey’ and ‘dear’ a lot, too.” For the President of company PK Electrical, an award-winning electrical design, engineering, and consulting firm based in Reno, she stands up to sexism in her STEM field of work with a groundbreaking book and launching her non-profit company, STEMspire.
In the mid-1980s, women held 36% of computer science related bachelor’s degrees. Today, that number has dipped to only 20%, even though women obtain 60% of all bachelor degrees and make up 48% of the workforce, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. This same disproportionate figure applies to all women who acquire STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) educations and professions. But why? Luckily, experts have uplifting news and three core strategies in order to make geeky girls more common.
Today we recognize Equal Pay Day – a day that reminds us the harsh reality that even after years of trying, women are not paid equal to men. According to U.S. Census Bureau, women in 2011 made 77 cents to a man’s one dollar, creating a wage gap of 23%. It’s even worse for women of color: 64 cents for Black women and 55 for Hispanic women for every dollar paid to non-white Hispanic men. Furthermore, according to the HuffPost, that means women are working 59 days FREE. Most importantly, there are several pieces of legislation circulating that could close the wage gap for good.
In the aftermath of Lean-In, The Guardian conducted a study on a group of successful working women in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s to learn how useful Sandberg’s message can be to both them individually and as a women’s movement as a whole. With Twitter networking and some luck, I got into contact with the subject interviewed for the 20s portion of the study, Director of Marketing and Communications at Vox Media, Callie Schweitzer. Callie took the time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions of my own about her role in the media and views on Sandberg.
Sandberg’s Sillicon Valley peer, Yahoo! CEO Marrisa Mayer, has received widespread yet unwanted attention by enforcing a strict Yahoo! policy. While bloggers and critcs more often than not place the two together as the modern heads of feminism, Mayer refuses to be considered a feminist, and the two don’t have as much in common as everyone may think.