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Are we nearing "Critical Mass" on big social issues? - Living Forward
Activism,  Beyond 40 Achievers,  Midlife Women

Are we nearing “Critical Mass” on big social issues?

Last night, I had dinner with several professional women I’ve known from serving on a non-profit Board. Our conversation ranged from families, personal travel, the recent disasters and our own disaster recovery experiences, and of course our favorite books and movies. All personally revealing, honest and authentic. Many funny stories with wise insights.

Although very different life experiences and backgrounds, every woman shared several common traits: wit, grit, grace, wisdom and resilience.

The conversation moved into the social issues we women face “still after all these years”. Starting with the recent #metoo campaign and sexual harassment and workplace hostility. We were all amazed the hear how so many people seem shocked by the avalanche of allegations against men (mostly) in power. It’s certainly not a new problem at all. In fact, it was finally given its legal name in 1991 when Anita Hill bravely presented her experience at the Clarence Thomas (yes, our current Supreme Court Justice) Senate hearing! Over 25 years later, we are still dealing with this in our workplaces, the media, our communities and in our political arena. When will it end? Keeping such abuse of power out in the open is a start, but there is so much more to be done. And we hear more shocking stories every day about abuse and harassment from decades ago. Finally, there are enough women who are now feeling safe enough and willing to share our stories from strength and resilience.

Critical mass (not the bike group, the physics theory) is when something reaches the threshold of it’s limits. I think we may be there on several issues.

Hopefully we are nearing critical mass which ideally will reduce such abhorrent behaviors, or at the very least shine a spotlight and address them as the illegal and immoral acts they are. It is time to shame and punish the perpetrators, not the victims of such abuse.

Another topic we discussed was, as working moms outside the home, we all were challenged to find good, safe, available, and affordable childcare options. It was a problem for us decades ago and remains a problem today for working parents. Not much seems to have changed in that area. Sure, there are several big, marquee companies that provide childcare services, but it certainly is not in the mainstream working community.

I initially thought this issue has been ignored by the men who still run the majority of the companies and aren’t as impacted by the juggling of work and childcare as women. Someone mentioned Melissa Meyer, former Yahoo CEO (a rare woman in high places) was a mom, actually pregnant at the time of hire. Shortly after she was hired and had her baby, she built herself a nursery next to her office while at the same time took away a highly valuable scheduling alternative for working parents—telecommuting. And Yahoo did not offer any daycare facilities for any other employees!Working moms throughout Silicon Valley felt betrayed by one of our own.   When will this change? Unfortunately not until there is critical mass of women at the higher levels of corporate leadership.  

Sometimes I feel we’re making social progress and then I feel just the opposite. Here in Silicon Valley, under our veneer of high technology, premier colleges, and innovation, we are sorely lacking in so many areas. Homelessness, harassment in the workplace, domestic violence and good childcare to name just a few.

These aren’t political issues, nor are they “women’s issues, these are human issues. Why can’t we tap into our alleged highly educated population and apply the same innovation to solve these issues?

We need to keep talking and doing something about these issues. As individuals, each of us can take actions to address these issues and move forward. Collectively the power is awesome. I really don’t want my grand-children to deal with the same stuff I did thirty years ago. Agree?

Be a World Changer and start in your own circle, your world. Every voice speaking out or writing to change something; every person attending a rally, community/local government meetings, or a corporate Board meeting. We can certainly vote with our pocketbooks by choosing   to buy or not buy products. These actions can be part of achieving critical mass on issues.

As women we can use our power, our voice and our sense of self-worth for good. We are worthy of a safe, hostile free work environment, resources, and   opportunities available to everyone. We need to speak up, speak out and stand up for that which we believe. Together, we can make a difference in areas which are important to us. Onward and forward!

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