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Next Phase of Womens Movement: #Womensday #FamilyFriendlyWork

This has been a busy time for the Women’s Movement. Today happens to be International Women’s Day 2013  which has “thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate achievements“. The documentary “Makers: Women Who Make America” debuted February 26.  The blog All Things D broke the story about Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer Now Requiring Remote Employees to Not Be (Remote)  and the commentary has been all over the map. Lastly, Sheryl Sandberg’s new book, Lean In, continues to be a hot topic.

 

Many of my friends and social media colleagues expected me to come down hard one way or the other on Mayer’s requirement calling employee’s back to the office. However, from my perspective, what should be the topic of conversation are policies including family leave, job training, childcare and other economic issues that are holding back women from reaching their full potential. Taking on these categories of public policy is the next phase of the women’s movement.

 

In the “Makers” documentary, Karen Nussbaum highlights that “despite the gains, the failure to win childcare options was a major failing of the women’s movement…“.  For companies, developing appropriate family leave policies and flexible work arrangements (i.e. telecommuting) for “relevant” jobs will enable primary caregivers of children to care for them and still work. Other options include companies that either have their own childcare center or have agreements with local childcare centers.  What about women who work for small businesses or have their own business? What if public and private resources could be pulled together to offer more options for health insurance, job training and childcare? This would allow women more flexible job options while supporting the environment of entrepreneurship.

 

Technology has enabled the flexibility to not only work at home but also work from anywhere (mobile) – so businesses should incorporate telecommuting for relevant jobs. At the same time, some jobs require being in the office for collaboration.  A safety net would give women the options to choose jobs that fit with their flexibility needs or even work for themselves. Better yet, why not use the power of online networking to help communities find and hire their local resources? What if every community had the match-making resources to really place businesses with women who have specialized skills, as contractors or employees?

 

 

Currently there are numerous email groups, websites and online social networks that list jobs and those looking for jobs. But sifting through all of the information is overwhelming. What if a localized system of matching jobs with those looking for work not only allowed them to pick jobs to fit with their “flexibility” needs but also showed information on what type of job skills are needed and what job training is available?

 

Now that there are so many educational resources online, job seekers could even find economical ways to get training if they need to revamp their skills. If I had my wish (and a magic philanthropy wand to wave) I would use the power of local communities to support women helping each other. Local community centers could be used for job training in addition to sports and hobbies. Those with technical skills (like me) could be part of a volunteer effort to help train women in need of technical skills. In my fantasy, local communities could recycle older technology to those in need and get donations for new technology.

 

My personal story is an example of the tough decisions women need to make. I worked hard to earn my role as Senior Manager at one of the top consulting firms in the world and was on Partner track. This firm was so supportive of my work/life balance that they gave me a flexible work arrangement after I came back to my job with my first son and then moved me into a job where I worked mostly at home when I was on bedrest at the end of my pregnancy with my twins. I had a company that not only had family friendly policies – but also wanted to work with me to find the right job for me as my family situation changed.

 

 

But after I delivered my twins (yes – the picture above is the view I had from my hospital bed), I realized I needed to step down from my job because the amount of money I would need for childcare of three kids would be either equal or less then my salary. I tried to find a economical sitter that worked into my family schedule but could not. I talked to other working moms who interviewed 50 or more childcare resources, and with three kids (2 of them being twin newborns) – I did not have time.. or the energy. I also realized that my job required travel and I was not able to do that anymore.

 

It was one of the hardest decisions I had to make. But my precious little boys were worth it! I even had (luckily still have) a husband that is a 50/50 partner in raising our kids and a company willing to work with me on job flexibility.  I grew up with a single mother so I also knew first hand that childcare is an even greater challenge for single moms (parents). But I left my “company” job over 14 years ago when the online network of women was not as powerful or prolific as it is now. Over the years I have met other women who shared their childcare solutions with me to similar problems.. If only I had that information years ago!! I adapted by creating my career 2.0 online, so now I want to use that power for social good.

 

There is already an amazing revolution of social good that exists online for moms with sites such as Mom Bloggers For Social Good, The Motherhood, One Mom BloggersGo MightyThe Mission List, BlogHer coverage of social good and BlogHer’s Mission of creating creating greater exposure and economic empowerment (and their powerful network of women) . There are women’s centers and organization looking into ways to develop solutions to fix the women’s leadership gap such as the Bentley University’s Center for Women and Business. And of course businesses like Clever Girls Collective that are women owned and have a network of women. On International Women’s Day I am announcing my social good project. I will be on a mission to help connect women (and working mothers) to the resources and networks they need for their careers by sharing this information online. I have some fun ideas which I will be announcing soon…  This will support the next phase of the women’s movement by having women HELP other women to find the resources they need to work.

 

If each woman can help just one other women find work resources the “pay it forward” will be exponential. Of course,  this includes moms supporting other moms who are trying to do that elusive work/life balance that in reality does not exist. In a perfect world this model could also translate to women helping other women worldwide, such as the organization Global Good partners that was profiled on Katie Couric show.  Global Good Partners is a “a nonprofit organization that sells handmade, fair trade products in order to improve the economic status of women in marginalized communities around the world.”

 

So instead of marching, this new phase of the women’s movement would be for women to help train other women with job skills, help them find work related resources, share information about women owned businesses/marketplaces and enable women to get the technology they need not only for job skills but to help manage their families.

 

Women, it is time to power up our network to a new level! If you have any ideas, please do share! If you have favorite sites that support women’s work efforts, please also share.

 

 

 

Makers: Women Who Make America Documentary #MakersWomen

10-2-2014 UPDATE: The second season has started (Tuesdays) airing on PBS.

 

I am excited to share that on Tuesday, February 26th the documentary called “MAKERS: Women Who Make Americais debuting on PBS (check local listings) and includes a powerful list of inspiring women that are “groundbreakers who have sparked change, been firsts-in-their-fields, and paved the way for those who followed“. I had the opportunity to attend a press event months ago where they had some of the amazing Makers Women  in attendance (including Gloria Steinem and our own local Lisa Stone of BlogHer ) while they showed us some clips from the documentary.

 

 

 

Along with the ones I mentioned above, some others highlighted in the documentary are Katie Couric, Linda Alvarado, Brenda Berkman, Judy Blume, Carol Burnett, Ursula Burns, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Ellen DeGeneres, Geraldine Ferraro, Theresa Kane, Billie Jean King, Maya Lin, Susan Love, Marissa Mayer, Robin Morgan, Sandra Day O’Connor, Maria Pepe, Michelle Rhee, Condoleezza Rice, Faith Ringgold, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Zainab Salbi, Sheryl Sandberg, Phyllis Schlafly, Barbara Smith, Martha Stewart, Kathrine Switzer, Diane Von Furstenberg, and Barbara Walters.  The Makers.com program description from the PBS website explains: “Review the story of how women have helped shape America over the last 50 years through one of the most sweeping social revolutions in our country’s history, in pursuit of their rights to a full and fair share of political power, economic opportunity and personal autonomy. The documentary builds on the unprecedented multi-platform video experience from PBS and AOL: MAKERS.com.”

 

The Makers press release also described “cast of partners behind the documentary that brought it to life – took a team effort, just like the movement overall!”:

 

  • PBS, for giving a national televised platform and broad community and grassroots network;
  •  AOL, for creating an engaging online experience at MAKERS.com;
  • and Simple ® facial skincare brand, for providing resources for production and promotion and sharing a like-minded vision of celebrating women whose authenticity, ideals and pioneering spirit inspire others every day.

 

 

 

The red-carpet premiere event in NYC was star studded and included interviews with many of the amazing women in the documentary:

 

 

MAKERS: Women Who Make America. Credit: Courtesy of Rahoul Ghose/PBS

 

 

 

 

The press release also had a quote from one of my inspirations “The future depends entirely on what each of us does every day; a movement is only people moving.” ~ MAKER, Gloria Steinem.

 

 

Beth Blecherman (TechMama) with Gloria Steinem at the Makers Women Silicon Valley press event.

 

Having the opportunity to meet Gloria Steinem at the press event even inspired me even more to do my part to contribute to the movement. To start, I will be watching MAKERS: Women Who Make America on Feb. 26 on PBS !

 

10-2-2014 UPDATE: The second season has started (Tuesdays) airing on PBS.

 

Disclosure: This is a press update.

 

 

 

International Women’s Day – With Shout Outs To Techie Women!

I took alittle blogging break to focus on family but thought International Women’s Day is a great time to jump back in! As moms across the world have done, I took some time to help my tween get settled in middle school, my twins settled with new twists and turns of 2nd grade and some very dear relatives with Cancer.

I had to put some professional opportunities on hold for the last few months, and while that may not be easy – I would not have it any other way (family is of course most important of all!). This of all days is a great time to share my story since women around the world have not only been influencers in business, but support to their families and communities around the world. Most recently the Women of Egypt stood up for what they believe in and hope that they will maintain a role in the building of a new Egypt.

I enjoyed reading Cool Mom Tech’s post called “International Women’s Day gives three multilingual cheers to women in tech”. That post called out some women in tech so I thought I would add on my WomenTech Twitter List and my techmoms and techmom2 twitter lists. My mom tech twitter lists are not as much technical moms as it is a way to capture the interesting mix of moms that share their updates on Twitter.

In honor of Women’s International Day, here is a post from April 21 2006 that captured my transition from techie to blogger mom. I hope to read many other stories today about Women and their transitions, accomplishments and dreams. For now, I am just happy to be blogging again. Best of all, I have a website redesign in the works so I will be sharing more news about TechMamas.com soon!

from April 21, 2006
From Techie to Blogger Mom

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A Day of WomenTech: #140Conf SF – Women Talking Tech on the Real Time Web and Huffington Post article

Yesterday I had the honor of being on a panel for one of my favorite tech conferences: @JeffPulver’s #140Conf (San Francisco). This was my second #140conf, the first was #140confNYC. Maya Bisineer @thinkmaya invited me (@techmama) to join her #140conf NYC “Innovating for our future” along with @alicewilder and Stephanie Aaronson @SAGalluch.

Our #140conf panel San Francisco was called “Women talking Tech about the Real-Time Web” with a fab panel: @techmama (moderater -thats me), Eliane Fiolet @ElianeFiolet from @ubergizmo, Elisa Camahort page @ElisaC from @BlogHer (*BlogHer also has @BlogHerSupport @BlogHerDeals and other co-founders @lisastone and @jorydj), Kristie Wells @kristiewells from @socialmediaclub and Liza Sperling @lizasperling from @scoutlabs. Even more fun was my virtual panelist Shireen Mitchell @digitalsista that tweeted from DC while we were in San Francisco!

On our Women talking tech panel we discussed the different ways we use Twitter to share our voice and interact with our communities. After the panel I was thrilled to meet an amazing tech voice from (drumroll) Twitter! Del Harvey @delbius spoke on a #140conf panel about Twitter.

As an attempt to organize a list to follow the unique womentech voices/organizations on Twitter, I created a womentech Twitter list (I hope to add lots more to that list as I just created it for the panel). Some of the amazing voices on the list that are also local to SF area are:  @jolieodell from Mashable (and another Mashable socal tweep @jbruin), @magicsaucemedia, @susanmernit,  @leahculver, @techiediva and @sairy. Some of the organizations are @anitaborg_org, @shesgeeky, @gitweet, @women2, @DevChix, @DigitalWoman, @ForbesWoman, @BlogHer, @MomBloggersClub and @WomenWhoTech.

I already have 2 techmom (techmom and techmom2) twitter lists – and growing!

My eyes are going blurry with all of the “@” Twitter names I listed on this post, but it is so hard to contain my excitement at connecting with amazing women tech on Twitter! My next step will be curate my women tech list on Pearltrees.com.

After I got home from the #140conf SF, I was thrilled to see an email that informed me that I was included in a geek girls post on one of my favorite blogs: Huffington Post. Kelly Feller wrote a post called “Despite Appearances, Girls Are Geeky Too” that included my tweep Eliane Fiolet and other women tech voices including Deborah Conrad. Just the day before I was so honored to be included on the Forbes (@ForbesWoman) list of “20 Best-Branded Women on Twitter“. Both of these articles are so exciting because I have spent the last few years focusing on a brand built around moms, women and technology. An important part of my goals are reaching out to the community of tech women and moms through social media; and Twitter is one of my favorite social media platforms.

I have to say, other then building Lego’s with my boys – I can’t think of a better way to spend my day then with Twitter and WomenTech peeps.

If you want to follow any of the fabulous tweeps mentioned in this post, here are the direct links:

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