The Revival of the French Feminist Movement

I have become fascinated with studying how social change happens. Over the past few years we have been given incredible opportunities to study how an event can occur that suddenly catapults an issue area forward. The power of media and new social technologies allows more people to both take a stand and take action. Communities are able to quickly connect and organize speeding the pace of movement building for collective action. This is exciting.

Scanning my feminist news brief this morning courtesy of the Women’s Funding Network I read this article in the Guardian about the effect of the arrest of IMF Chief and Presidential hopeful Dominique Strauss-Khan on alleged rape charges is having in France. France is not exactly known for being a leader in gender equality, but perhaps this incident will serve to reignite the movement. Change happens when an issue, in this case what is considered accepted sexual behavior by a powerful French male, is brought in to the public for debate and engagement. What is accepted becomes challenged and re framed, leading to a possible change in beliefs, which leads to a change in behavior, that change becomes institutionalized and there you have it. Will this happen overnight? Of course not. Without challenge? Of course not. But, the French people may one day look back and say the incident that ignited a wave of advancement on gender equality in their country was this arrest.

To get the news brief from the Women’s Funding Network subscribe here. It is an incredible, daily news link summary of the best articles relating to women and girls around the world. Thank you WFN for this incredible service.

Roseanne Barr Tells her Story – Thank you

This is absolutely a must read article by Roseanne Barr in the latest issue of New York Magazine. It is one of the bravest stories I have ever read by a successful woman. So few women who have ‘made it’ are willing to be this honest about what it took to get there, and what it cost them. So few men for that matter too. There is so much I can relate to in her story and it rings true for so many other ones I have heard over my career in finance. The list includes men and women taking credit for your work and ideas, other women pretending to be your friends and then stabbing you in the back, having to put up with sexist jokes, being humiliated in front of your peers, being taking advantage of with assumption you will take it because you are a women, and not being allowed to be yourself which in theory is why you are in a position of influence in the first place. Then of course there is the upside. The money. The platform. The title. The power. The perks. The ‘celebrity’ status. Then there is a whole other side which Roseanne did not choose to share and that is when was she less then her best self in terms of how she related to and treated others? At the end of it all however is the fact that we all have to look in the mirror and identify with the person who we see. I want to be a person that sees the truth, good, bad and otherwise, and so I hope is Roseanne.

This is inspiring me to tell my own story but the question is, am I that brave? A Goldman Sachs Women Partner tells her story. I can’t tell you how many times I have sat down to write that one. Thank you Roseanne and thanks to all the women who put it all out there to help change the game for the better.

The End of the Mancession?

“The End of the Mancession?” is the title of this article in TIME but the story is really about the growing economic power of women. It is not surprising that men outpaced women in recent employment gains – “Men gained over a million jobs last year, while women gained only 149,000.”( link to article ) Men lost the majority of jobs over the past couple of years due to the hard hit areas of construction and finance. Those areas have recovered and many men are back at work, awesome. Though women stand to gain jobs over the longer term because of the sectors of the economy that are growing, my worry is that these areas tend to be lower paying industries like health-care. Overall the future employment outlook for the US remains a big concern.

We need to be a country that continues to emphasize innovation, technology and entrepreneurship. In these areas women are underrepresented for a variety of reasons and in addition face barriers to accessing capital. This concern fuels my passion for “Gender Lens Investing” – the proactive stance towards using one’s investment dollars to support and empower women.

The good news, as the article points out is that “BCG estimates that women will earn the majority—some $5 trillion-—of the world’s new income over the next five years. No wonder banks like Goldman Sachs are starting to rate industries according to how much of the female dollar they are poised to capture. Merrill Lynch recently went “long on women” and companies targeting female consumers, noting that it expected women to “increasingly become the -higher-income earners of U.S. households.” In my view, that’s the most important reason that you’ll ultimately see female employment rebound. The growth industries are those that cater to women. And you can bet that the people who run those companies are going to want to hire plenty of female employees who understand those markets, and those consumers.”