On Anne's Mind

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The Time is Always Right to Do What is Right

April 5, 2018

Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the assassination of American Civil Rights Leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Many media outlets are replaying segments of his most famous speeches, including the "I've Been to the Mountaintop" prophetic speech he gave in Memphis, Tennessee the night before his death. Listening to his hopeful reminder that "Only in the darkness can you see the stars," I find myself thinking of the new stars that are shining fresh light on today's darkness. 

Today's social justice warriors are: 

Grieving high school students fighting for their lives. 

Outraged athletes taking a knee against racial violence.  

And courageous, young, gymnasts confronting an evil, sexual predator.

I believe that each of us has multiple opportunities throughout our lives to help move humanity forward. Some require only very small steps outside our comfort zones; others, gigantic, scary leaps. I've learned that the important thing is to recognize them for what they are: opportunities to help inch humanity forward on the long,moral arc toward justice.  

We have a magnificent, story-telling event in Detroit -- The Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers -- that was created by storyteller, entertainer and truth-seeker Satori Shakoor, with the goal of "Transforming lives one story at time."

Satori chose Justice & Grace as the theme for last month's stories, and gave me the privilege of taking the audience back to the late 1970's and early 80's when I was one of the first female, TV sports reporters to walk through the doors of professional sports locker rooms.

To come with me, click here. 

When opportunities to make a positive difference knock for you, I hope you will open the door and let them in. And after you do, share your story. Because, it will inspire others to find their courage, as well.  

Bullying Boys and Bystander Enablers

October 13, 2017

 

Dear Global Friends/Thinkers,

 

Are you as shell-shocked as I am by the barrage of cultural and physical bullying dominating America's mindset?  The dysfunctional, nasty and even criminal behavior is so pervasive, with fresh examples coming so fast that I barely have time to soak in the implications of one before I'm stunned by the next. Las Vegas. Harvey Weinstein. Roger Ailes. "Don't you dare 'take a knee.'" Women's health is against my religion! Charlottesville. "Fire her!" I look at major news stories in a cultural context. Not as isolated events, but as connected threads and bellwethers of the society we are weaving. I'm distraught about the direction my country is heading. Bullying, backlash, fear and male power seem to be unchecked, while millions of bystanders lacking courage or moral fiber quietly enable the dysfunction. Where are our leaders?  

 

Here a few of my thoughts on current examples of America in cultural crisis. 

  

Harvey Weinstein Sexual Assault Scandal. Are you surprised? I'm not. Disgusted, yes. And furious that powerful men continue to prey on young women. Whether it's Harvey Weinstein, Roger Ailes, Bill Cosby, Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Clarence Thomas, John F. Kennedy or sexual trafficking, domestic violence and child marriage, this has been going on for centuries.  Do I think that this scandal is a sea change? I doubt it. Instead, I see the present reaction to the Weinstein, Ailes and Cosby sexual assault scandals as very similar to our behavior following mass shootings, such as the recent massacre in Las Vegas. Big stories grab the headlines and our national attention for a few weeks, at most. But nothing will change. We'll continue allowing citizens to stockpile weapons of war, and boards of directors will continue protecting sexual assaulters who are good for the bottom line. Not until dismayed Americans DEMAND change and stop looking the other way, ignoring the rumors, doubting the victims and accepting "boys will be boys/locker room behavior," will anything change, except for one predator finally getting caught.  Sadly, our iceberg of sexual assult and hostile work environments for women is as large as the national arsenal of American citizens. 

 

Take-A-Knee --  I see Colin Kaepernick as a leader. A patriot willing to risk his career to help our nation live up to our ideals of equality. Becoming the "more perfect union" our founding fathers and mothers imagined and fought for, doesn't just happen. It takes courageous leadership.  Not just in the beginning, but always.  Athletes, beginning with other NFL players and growing to include the WNBA, high school students and entertainers who have followed Kaepernick's lead to protest police violence that disproportionately affects African Americans are not disrespecting our flag or our troops. They are taking responsibility as active citizens. Challenging, perhaps shaming us to live up to our purported values. Disrespect for our "united nation" is not taking a knee during a song. It is flying a Confederate flag, insulting a United States senator who was a prisoner of war, groping female citizens at will, tempting World War III. 

 

Quarterback Cam Newton Insults Female Sports Reporter -- I was not the least bit surprised to hear Panther QB Cam Newton's insulting response to an excellent question from NFL beat reporter  Jourdan Rodrigue. "It's funny to hear a female talk about routes,” Newton said, chuckling. "It's funny." No it's not funny. But the good news is that none of the other male sportswriters in the room enjoyed his joke. They met his comment with stoney silence. Then, multiple male journalists around the country wrote commentaries criticizing Newton's neanderthal behavior. Dannon Yogurt dropped him as a product spokesman.  It's not just in the world of sports where females have endured unwelcoming (and much worse!) work environments. It is only when male colleagues get "in the game" with us as vocal, active allies that our culture will truly overcome sexual harassment, misogyny and both conscious and unconscious bias. Thank you guys! 

 

Suspension of ESPN Host Jemele Hill -- Because I was one of the first female TV sportsbroadcasters in this country and helped open sports locker rooms to female reporters (1978-1984), I want ESPN host Jemele Hill to succeed. That's why I initially thought she made a mistake in calling President Trump a "white supremacist" on Twitter.  A "personal twitter feed' for a public figure is an oxymoron. There is no such thing. I thought she crossed the line between sports commenting and political commenting. But she persisted in speaking up about national issues that concerned her. Now, ESPN has suspended her for two weeks.  Raising your voice during times of crisis when too many others are silent, takes courage. So, instead of criticizing Hill, I'm wondering why a sports commentator or NFL athletes should be held to different standards than our President -- who has called for the firing of both Hill and kneeling NFL players. Keep raising your voice, Jemele.  We need you -- not only covering sports, but speaking your truth as a woman of color refusing to be silent about racism.  

 

Bernie Sanders Opening Speaker for Women's March Conference --  I don't get this. If your slogan is, "It's Our Time to Lead," why would you not model your own motto? Of course men are essential allies in the fight for women's equality. When Susan B. Anthony opened the very first National Conference of American women in Seneca Falls, NY in 1948, Frederick Douglas and other men were with her. But Anthony and other suffragists led the convention. Bernie Sanders is one reason why the historic opportunity to elect the first woman president slipped away; perhaps for my lifetime. So, I won't be at the Women's Conference to hear him speak, although it is being held this month here in Detroit. Instead, I'll be in Houston at the World Leadership Conference of the International Women's Forum. And guess who we'll be inducting into the IWF Global Hall of Fame? Hillary Clinton, a leader who has done more to advance women and girls all over the world than Bernie Sanders has ever thought about.  

 

Battle of the Sexes. Finally, if you haven't seen it yet, do yourself a favor and go see Battle of the Sexes, starring Emma Stone as the legendary Billie Jean King and Steve Carell as self-described "male chauvanist" Bobby Riggs.  It's great! And take a few Millenials with you (my 24-year-old son, Kevin, loved it.) Hopefully, the movie will inspire them to pick up the torch of women's equality. Millenials are my greatest hope for once again hearing women Roar. 

 

Raise your Voice!  Anne 

A Severe Case of Testosterone Poisoning

March 22, 2017

"Where in the world is Anne Doyle?" "What happened to you?" "Why have you gone silent, Anne, when we need your voice more than ever?" Those are some of the email comments I've received from many of you lately. It's nice to be missed. 

There's a simple explanation for why you haven't heard from me for several months. I've been struggling to recover from a severe case of testosterone poisoning.

You may never have heard of this debilitating condition. But chances are you're infected, as well. Because the PH Power Balance (testosterone/acidic;estrogen/alkaline) in every nation on earth is perniciously distorted. And the USA is no exception. Testosterone levels in our public domain are off the charts, while our cultural estrogen is dangerously diminished. 

Like Kryptonite to Females. So what's the problem? For female human beings, I submit that repeated exposure to excessive levels of testosterone has the same impact that Kryptonite has on Superman in the DC comics universe. With every breath a girl or woman takes, her female powers are diminished by our toxic cultural air. 

Unlike Superman, however, we don't instantly notice the debilitating effects that excessive testosterone exposure has on us. After all, when everyone around you displays the same symptoms -- showing little more than polite anger over centuries of legal, economic and social servitude; continuing to raise the next generation of daughters and sons to unconsciously, passively accept our dysfunctional status quo; and being ever-so-careful to protect fragile male egos -- it's easy not to notice how distorted our culture has become. 

November 9th Overdose. It was in the wee hours of November 9th, 2016 that testosterone poisoning finally got the best of me. When it became clear to me (and to a stunned world!) that Americans had turned their backs on one of the most qualified humans ever to run for president of the United States and, instead, handed the controls of our national 747 over to a narcissistic, lying rookie without a pilot's license, I was physically sick. I had finally succumbed to the particularly virulent strain of raging male hormones that has infected our country and is metastacizing rapidly.

I slipped into a deep funk and, like Superman, needed to retreat to my "fortress of solitude" to regroup and regain my strength.

Of course I emerged, briefly, to participate in the Women's March in Washington, DC on Inauguration weekend. But even that experience was bittersweet. As I marched shoulder-to-shoulder with hundreds of of thousands of other outraged Americans, I couldn't help but wonder to myself, "Where were all of you in October when there was still time to prevent our testosterone-addicted nation from driving itself right off a cliff?" 

If you bristle at my use of the term "testosterone poisoning" to name the USA's greatest weakness, before you lash out at my resistance, I hope you will watch, Equal Means Equal -- the devastating and definitive documentary on the state of women in America. We are in free-fall.

And if you have a hard time recognizing situations and environments where testosterone has reached crisis levels, look no further than the recent performance on the global stage of our U.S. president who wouldn't deign to even glance at German Chancellor Angela Merkel, let alone shake her hand for the cameras. Our Testosterone-in-Chief is more comfortable groping women than acknowledging a female who is now widely regarded as the new leader of the Free World. 

PH Power Imbalance Impacts Both Genders. When I first started tracking the cultural impact of excessive testosterone levels, I thought it was only females who suffered the consequences, beginning with the loss of entitlement for themselves and other women to equal power with men to make decisions for the human family. It's my explanation for why 54% of white American women who voted in our recent presidential election chose a deeply flawed male over a highly-skilled member of their own tribe to lead our nation. But it doesn't explain why women of color -- 94% of African American women and 68% of Hispanic women -- made the opposite choice. Could it be that women of color are more resistant to the intoxicating power of white male testosterone than white females? 

The more I thought about all of this, the more I realized that males also suffer from the testosterone/estrogen power imbalance. Could it be a factor in the male bystander syndrome Harvard Business Review tackled this month? America's hormonal power imbalance, may explain why so many good men remain silent bystanders as other males behave outrageously toward women  -- from sexual harassment and gender bias in the workplace to gang rape, both physical and legislative. 

I suspect, regardless of gender, we're similar to frogs dropped into comfortable, warm water who never realize, until it's too late to jump for safety, that they are being cooked into lethargic paralysis. It's the cumulated effect over time that does us all in. 

An Old Soul To The Rescue. It was Tamara Kolton, a humanistic rabbi and dear friend who heard the wailing of my wounded spirit and retrieved me from my funk. She is much younger than I, but an old soul who understands the fire in my belly that has long fueled my quest for gender and human equality. 

"Anne, millions of people are in the same emotional funk you are these days," she told me. "But part of why your pain is so deep is because everything you believe in has been shattered. You've lost your work purpose. Your heart is broken." 

As she spoke those words, my heart sped up, my chest tightened and my eyes filled with tears. I was stunned at how emotionally I reacted. 

"You should write about your pain," Tamara told me. "It's a very personal story, but people can relate. You have a sense of history and the generations of courageous women who risked so much and worked so hard to get us to this point. Too many American women have no personal sense of the Sisterhood Struggle that brought us so close to an historic breakthrough." 

Tamara stirred my creative embers that have been stone cold for months. I've started writing again, working on a new book that is very different from the one I was writing before the world changed on November 8th. I do have a sense of where this book is headed, but a writing journey can take you in unexpected directions. As someone famous once put it, "I have to write to know what I think." I'll keep you posted. 

My Anguish Ripens to Rage. I was lucky enough to have parents who started immunizing me from early childhood, building up my ability to think authentically and function effectively even in work environments where testosterone was at toxic levels. Over the years, I've sustained myself with nature, horses, dogs, family, rejuvenating friendships and global travel. But I've never been immune to the impact. A lifetime of facing psychic insults, blatant pay and employment bias; never-ending vulnerability to sexual assault, and decades of taxation without representation have all taken their toll. And I'm one of the lucky, privileged females -- born white, American, middle-class and educated.

Now, decades down the road, as I observe the state of millions of the more vulnerable members of my female tribe, my anguish is ripening to rage!

If all I can be in my remaining years is a witness for our times and a spirit who refuses to go quietly into the night, so be it. In the meantime, the most powerful antidote I've found for repeated exposure to excessive testosterone levels is Sistering -- actively, visibly, supporting other living beings striving for human equality. 

Persist!  Anne 

The Anticipated Roar That Dissolved To A Whisper

November 15, 2016

November 15, 2016 -- Auburn Hills, Michigan USA 

Dear Global Friends/Thinkers: 

I have been in a state of shock, grief, horror and growing despair over our U.S. presidential election for the past week. Thank you to so many of you who have been in touch out of personal concern for  me, as well as over the implications for the entire global family of a Trump presidency. I've been trying to process my many, complex feelings.

I worked hard throughout this long, presidential campaign, hosting a Clinton campaign staffer in my home for months, helping to register voters and  knocking hundreds of doors.  I even dressed as a Suffragette for Halloween.

My first reaction was that of millions here in the United States and throughout the world: STUNNED SHOCK. Initially, it was nearly impossible for me to believe that American voters would put a rookie without a pilot's license at the controls of our national 747.  But they did. 

My shock was followed by GRIEF. I felt as if someone I loved deeply had died suddenly and unexpectedly. Instead of preparing myself for a possible loss, I was naively anticipating over-the-moon joy. Bearing bottles of champagne, close friends gathered with me to watch one of the most respected leaders in the world, a person who has been on the front lines of the global fight for the rights and empowerment of women and girls my entire life, help our nation take an historic and gigantic step forward for womankind and human rights. But that was not to be.

The day after the election, I received these beautiful flowers from a dear friend who was with me on election night. I burst into tears when I read the card with Helen Reddy's memorable words: "You can bend but never break me, for you'll only serve to make me more determined to achieve my final goal." 

The HORROR I feel began with the realization that my nation, which was founded with a system of checks and balances between the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of federal government, will have no BALANCE for at least the next two years. The Republican Party, with its conservative agenda that has had controlling women's rights at the top of its agenda for decades, will now control the U.S. presidency, both Houses of Congress, and nominations for the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as federal judgeships.  My horror has only continued to grow as I have heard the names of people Donald Trump is choosing and considering for positions of power and influence in his Administration. Mike Pence, vice president. Steven, Bannon, chief strategistRudolf Giuliani. Chris Christie. Sarah Palin. Newt Gingrich, Betsy DeVos and Dr. Ben Carson (possible Cabinet appointments). 

But it is my DESPAIR that has cut the deepest, because it is about everything I have stood for, believed in and worked towards for my entire adult life. There are two pieces to my depair.

The first is about one of the fundamental lessons of this historic election. If Hillary Rodham Clinton had been elected, which she actually was by the POPULAR VOTE, the story heard 'round the world would have been: "USA Takes Gigantic Step Foward Toward Gender Equality, Electing First Female President." But that's not what happened.


So, notwithstanding all of the other forces at work in this historic election, the fact that voters backed away from what would have been an historic and gigantic step forward for women is still a huge part of the story, and carries a brutal lesson. 

As I told WJR radio when they called me on election night, "The choice of a vulgar and frighteningly unprepared man to become president over one of the most qualified leaders ever to run for president of the United States is a stunning metaphor and powerful evidence that it just doesn't matter how QUALIFIED a woman is for leadership. Women as well as men are still willing to settle for a mediocre, offensive male leader over a woman they "just don't like." My deepest pain over this election result is one that millions of women share. We've had to come face-to-face with the stunning realization that even "dancing backwards and in high heels" isn't enough. Regardless of a woman's superior education, experience, track record, accomplishments, brainpower and work ethic, credentials will NEVER BE ENOUGH. As comedian Joy Behar profoundly put it, "I've learned from this election that a man can get away with ANYTHING, and a woman can get away with NOTHING." 

The other part of my despair has been about SISTERHOOD. I've come to believe that Hillary Clinton's biggest mistake in this election has been my mistake for decades. The idea that female human beings share a sense of sisterhood solidarity with collective clout that can be leveraged to help lift girls and women throughout the world was a fundamental building block of Clinton's campaign. It has also been one of my core values. "Every woman for herself is a losing strategy," is one of my mantras. 

Is Sisterhood a myth? I'm struggling with that. Hillary won women's votes overall (54%), thanks to the support of African American (94%) and Hispanic (68%) women. But I cannot fathom how or why white women -- who chose Trump over Clinton (53% to 43%) --  could turn their backs on a stunningly accomplished female leader who has been on the front lines of championing their economic opportunities and legal rights for over forty years.

In the 2008 presidential election, 96% of African American voters supported Barack Obama. If women had supported Hillary Clinton in numbers anywhere close to that, she would have been elected by a landslide. I'm having to come to terms with the fact millions of "my American sisters" were willing to accept an abundance of t-shirts reading "Trump That Bitch," yard signs advocating "Hillary for Prison" and even video evidence of Donald Trump's fondness for "pussy grabbing," while walking away from an unprecedented opportunity to make HER-STORY with powerful, positive implications for half of the human race.

As the Atlantic magazine wrote, "what women should strive for, how they should be treated, and even what they should havwe the right to do, are far from uncontested ideas in American society." 

I'm working to regain my joy and put my shoulder back to the evolutinary wheel pushing uphill for the human rights arc of history, with the help of friends and my fantastic son, Kevin, who took me out to dinner and a Marvel movie (Dr. Strange - it's great!) to get me out of my funk!

What's next? I have a plane ticket to be in Washington, DC in January for what I thought would be an Inauguration for the history books. I'm still going, but it will be to raise my voice and walk shoulder-to-shoulder with my like-minded Sisters and Brothers as part of the "Million Women March" at the Lincoln Memorial on January 21, 2017.  That, too, will be one for the history books.  

My only hope is to live long enough to hear women's whispering rise to a mighty roar. 

Sleepless in Motown, Anne 

 

Hear Us Roar!

October 16, 2016

Months of hateful language against multiple minority groups, as well as the proliferation of anti-Hillary signs and t-shirts proclaiming: "Lock her up!" or "Trump that Bitch!", were bad enough. But it was the explosive release of video evidence of Donald Trump in sexual predator mode that opened a cultural Pandora's box of gender pain, denial and outrage in America.  

I have my own litany of deep emotional bruises and scars from male interactions I've tried to forget. I've yet to meet a woman who doesn't. So, how am I dealing with all of this? I've often found myself humming Helen Reddy's powerful 1971 anthem. 

"I am woman, hear me roar. In numbers too big to ignore. And I know too much to go back and pretend." 

Wise Women Words

I've been soothed in the last 10 days by four powerful women who have raised their voices in outrage and shared their wisdom on how to keep reaching toward the light. They've given me hope that this painful labor is giving birth to another leap foward in human evolution. Women are on the rise throughout the world. And there is no turning back. 

"Cause I've heard it all before. And I've been down there on the floor. No one's ever going to keep me down again." 


Michelle Obama: "Enough is Enough."
In a speech for the ages, America's most respected public figure gave voice to women and girls everywhere who are all-too-familiar with the fear and pain of gender disrespect, humiliation and violation. If you have not heard her words, please listen. They will go down in herstory as a defining moment and a call heard round the world for women and men who respect and love them to stand up and roar, enough is enough! 

"Oh yes, I am wise. But it's wisdom born of pain. Yes, I've paid the price, but look how much I've gained."


Gloria Steinem:
"Go Toward Freedom."
Just a few days ago, I was lucky enough to spend an evening with Gloria Steinem on the campus of Michigan State University. What did Gloria say about what feels like a culturally dangerous time in America? 

She responded with the metaphor of domestic violence, telling the audience: "The most dangerous time for victims in abusive relationships is when they try to escape. That's when they are most likely to be killed or suffer the worst beatings. It takes great courage for victims to make the leap toward freedom." Steinem told us she is not surprised by the stunning, gender-specific backlash against the first woman to seriously challenge the male monopoly on the most powerful leaadership position in the world. "We have arrived at a moment in history where the female half of the human race is reaching a tipping point of escaping from thousands of years of subjugation in culturally-abusive relationships. No wonder it feels so dangerous,"Steinem, now 82, told us. "Take care of each other and keep pushing for equality for all. It is our only path to freedom." 

 "You can bend but never break me. 'Cause it only serves to make me. More determined to achieve my final goal. And I come back even stronger. Not a novice any longer. 'Cause you've deepened the conviction in my soul." 

Phumzile Mlambo-Nqcuka & Kah Walla:  "Why Are American Women So Quiet?" My third source of inspiration comes from two courageous African leaders I was with at the recent World Leadership Conference of the International Women's Forum. Over 900 women from 40 nations gathered in Chicago.

Mlambo-Ngcuka, Under-Secretary of the United Nations and Executive Director of UN Women, was inducted into the IWF Hall of Fame at the conference. Kah Walla, a political leader from Cameroon who has been imprisoned multiple times for challenging and running for president against her nation's 32-year dictator president, was the closing keynote speaker. Both used their moments on stage to express their dismay and challenge American women to flex their collective clout.

"Why," Walla asked the stunned audience, "have American women been so quiet as one of the most respected leaders in the world -- who happens to be a woman -- has been repeatedly demeaned and insulted on the global stage?" 

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka put it this way: "Don't Americans realize that Hillary Clinton's election would not just be a breakthought for the U.S., it would be a world changer!" 

At moments like this, I ask myself, "What would Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul, Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, Shirley Chisholm, Geraldine Ferraro and Coretta Scott King do if they were with us today? I have no doubt they would say, What are you waiting for? The moment is at hand. The world is watching and waiting." 

 "If I have to, I can do anything! I am strong. I am invincible. I am woman!" 

Let them hear you Roar!  

 

 

It's Time for Women to Stop Being Politely Angry

September 11, 2016

I just returned from a fascinating, yet challenging, one-week assignment in Trinidad & Tobago for the U.S. State Department. The U.S. Embassy there asked me to lead three days of workshops on both islands for local NGO leaders and change agents working to address gender-related, civil society issues. Rape, incest, domestic violence and religiously-sanctioned marriage of girls as young as 12 top their URGENT list.

This "Scourge of Abuse," as the banner in this photo correctly calls the crisis, has gone unchecked for centuries.  It is now a full-blown global epedemic with females of every age vulnerable to attack at any moment, be they citizens of a tiny, 2-island West Indies nation or the most powerful democracy on earth. There is not a country in the world where female members of the human race are safe from the ever-present threat of sexual harassment, physical abuse and violent death, often at the hands of their own family members.

Babies and very young children -- victims of incest. Wives of every social class -- violently abused and often murdered by their own husbands. Gang rapes in India. Nigerian school girls kidnapped and sold into sexual slavery. Rampant sexual trafficking of young girls and child pornography. Women of any age, from puberty to senility -- raped; in their homes, on college campuses and while serving their country as soldiers in the military. The statistics are staggering and sickening.  

Add to that shameful list the hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits that languish, forgotten for decades on crime lab shelves while serial rapists continue on their perverted paths of human abuse. 

I didn't go to Trinidad & Tobago bearing the gift of solutions. I wish I had them to give. I went seeking fresh insight for solving the "Scourge of Shame" we all rail against, as I went to lead workshops on collaboration and building allies for social change. 

One of the gifts I received was meeting U.S. Ambassador John Estrada. A native of Trinidad who came to the U.S. as a youngster and rose to become one of the highest-ranked officers in the U.S. Marines, Estrada is publicly raising his influential voice -- in speeches, in the news media and with government officials -- in opposition to child marriage and all types of gender violence. For him, it's personal. 

When he dropped by my workshop to show his support for the NGO leaders working for social change, the Ambassador didn’t just stick his head in and wave. He pulled up a chair and shared intimate memories of watching his mother being beaten by his step-father when the future Marine was too young to protect her. And he told how his own sister recently confided to him that she was sexually abused as a child by a relative. "Hurting females is a sign of weakness, not strength is what I want men to understand," he told us. 

I'm inspired and receive an injection of hope when I meet deeply committed male allies, such as Ambassador Estrada and Embassy Public Affairs Officer Stephen Weeks, who sponsored my visit. But I wake up in the middle of the night wondering, "Why is half of the human race still so passive as to allow our own tribe to be violently preyed upon day after day, year after year, century after century -- in our cradles, our homes, our campuses, our offices, our communities, our countries?  

At the beginning of the 21st Century, women throughout the world have achieved unprecedented levels of education, empowerment and leadership -- as individuals. But we are in kindergarten when it comes to leveraging our collective influence to fix the mighty wrongs still inflicted upon our half of the human race. 

We are naive if we believe gender violence will decline and women's influence will rise without a mighty fight. As Frederick Douglas, the former American slave who rose to become one of the greatest thought leaders of his time wrote, "Power concedes nothing without a demand."

Are you still "politely angry" over the rampant violence, sexism, outright mysogyny as well as lack of EQUAL POWER to shape the human condition of the human family? 

I'm done citing research and statistics until I am blue in the face, hoping logic and facts will trigger the long overdue, gender tipping point.  

I am too sickened by story after story of girls and women as victims. Too outraged over example after example of only TOKEN female representation in positions of power -- be it moderating presidential debates or taking our rightful seats in Congress and corporate Board Rooms. Too disgusted with criticisms of one of the most admired and accomplished women in the history of the world being picked apart, nibble by nibble, over trivialities. 

Change begins with our voices, our votes, our money -- and leveraging them collectively. Women have never been stronger; yet we are far from together enough to DEMAND and FORCE POSITIVE SOCIAL CHANGE. 

As you rise, I hope you will also challenge yourself to INSIST that your Global Sisters rise with you. Not someday. But now . . . on our watch. 

On the Eve of Significant Leadership Change

April 20, 2016

I know. I know. I've heard from quite a few of you who have been wondering why it has been several months since I was last in touch. The answer is in this photo. Her name is La Brava (spanish for brave female), and she was my Christmas present to myself. Brava is now five months old, house-trained and beginning to calm down a bit. So, I can finally begin turning my attention to more than simply integrating the "new baby" into my household.  

The other reason for my blog silence is that I haven't felt that I had anything new to say or compelling enough to share with all of you. My lens on the world is that of a journalist. I'm always looking for "the story." What's new? Where are the cultural edges? Based on USA news coverage for the last few months, you'd think there was nothing else happening in the world other than the incessant verbal abuse that Republican and Democratic presidential "wanna-bes" have been hurling at each other. All I can say about the present state of the U.S. presidential campaign is simply this: "I can hardly wait to see the TV debates between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump!"

Finaally Some News Worth Mentioning: We're On the Eve of Significant Change. The cultural tide carrying talented, skilled women leaders to positions of significant power and global influence is about to come in. I've sensed for some time that a gigantic wave of change was beginning to surge. Because the old narratives about women and leadership are as worn-out and as irrelevant as those 1980's "dress for success" female bow-ties.

You know the platitudes: Needing to fill the talent pipelines. Fixing women to fit in to Neanderthal work cultures and master male behaviors. Walking the tightrope between being too passive or perceived as a bitch. And, of course, being realistic about work/life balance. Men can be both high-achievers and good parents;women, however, must choose. We could sense that times have been "a changin'." But finally, there's evidence that enough women (an emergent critical mass) have achieved executive leadership positions to be successfully leading transformational change. 

The Everest Project is an unprecedented study of how women are successfully leading change and innovation in corporate America. Its first report, "Eve of Change: Redefining Corporate America," has just been released. I was alerted to this ground-breaking research by personal friends at EY (formerly Ernst & Young), one of the study's sponsors. Everest Project Co-Founders and study authors Pamela Carlton and Lily Tang call the compelling insights revealed by their findings, "A call to action to CEOs, senior executives and all women executives (1) to examine opportunities for leading change and creating cultures of innovation and (2) to fully support women executives who in many respects are leading the way." Here is how Carlton and Tang summarize several of their Key Findings.  

Finding 1: Women Lead Transformational Change. Women executives who are effectively leading -- aka "Everest Women" -- are actually transforming companies, through not only their own behavior as role models, but also as catalysts for collective behavior change in corporate America.

Finding 2: Women Embrace Smart Risk. "Contrary to popular belief," the authors report, "women often take significant risk on behalf of their organizations." In my book, POWERING UP!I call this leadership skill the ability to Drink at Dangerous Waters. It includes everthing from having the courage to voice a contrarian opinion, even when you are the only woman in the room, to being willing to throw assumptions about "how we've always done things" out the window.  

Finding 3: Humility is the New Power Tool. But be careful, Carlton and Tang advise. "Confidence and credibility are prerequisites for leading with humility, which is all about the delicate balancing act between signaling leadership presence without being perceived as too agreessive or arrogant." The gender tightrope that women leaders must walk is a little wider thesse days, but navigating it well still takes skill. 

Finding 4: Collaboration is Not Consensus. Everest Women take the view from ten thousand feet across the organization, communicate well, are open to new ideas and encourage healthy debate. But they also understand that it eventually falls to take the critical step forward.   

Finding 5: Difference is More. I wrote an entire chapter in POWERING UP! about the leadership skill I call "Womaninity," to explain why leading as a woman is no longer a weakness to be overcome; it is a strength to be leveraged. Everest Report authors Carlton and Tang agree. "Because of their difference, women are multidimensionally competent," they report. "Women who have figured out how to use their gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and cultural background as part of their leadership toolkit, bring far more to the table for their corporations and teams." 

This is fascinating and actionable insight. I urge you to download the report, read it and share it.

I'm Celebrating:

  • Roberta Gibb's 50th anniversary as the first woman to finish the Boston Marathon.  
  • Harriet Tubman about to replace former slave owner Andrew Jackon on the $20 bill. 

I'm Watching:

  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau advocating for male engagement in gender parity at this year's Davos World Economic Forum 
  • Confirmation -- HBO's excellent new movie on the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas showdown that held our nation spellbound 25 years ago and deepened our understanding of sexual harassment. 

I'm Reading:  

  

Next month, I'm travelling to Tel Aviv to participate in my 12th global conference of the International Women's Forum, one of the preeminent networks of women leaders from every continent. As the newly elected president of the Michigan IWF chapter, this will be the first time that I will participate in the President's Council sessions, as well. The content is always cutting edge and this year's theme is, "Seek, Solve, Soar." I promise to take great notes and to share the most compelling insights and stories  . . . SOON! 

Spring Greetings from Motown - a city beginning to rise again.  Anne 

There But For The Grace of God Go We

November 22, 2015

I'm fully recovered from the horseback riding fall that landed me in the Emergency Room in late August. Thank you for all of your words of encouragement to "get back in the saddle!" My body recovered more quickly than my psyche from a good scare. But there is nothing better than following your bliss to help you overcome fear after failure.

So, as I write tonight, it is my Soul and Spirit that are aching, not my Muscles. 

Nearly eleven million desperate people -- half of the population of Syria -- fleeing killers, torturers and rapists; the cold-blooded attacks in Paris that stunned the world; 9 dead after a terrorist attack on a Mali hotel; a Russian plane brought down by a terrorist bomb. And let's not forget the 270 Nigerian school girls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram nearly 600 days ago. 

I've had my fill of evidence that our human family is at a moment of global crisis.

As sickened as I am by the evil and growing violence that extremist thugs and butchers are wreaking in the name of Islam, I am even more sickened by the cowering of so-called leaders and moral citizens who are willing to look away from human suffering in THEM in order to protect US. 

EMPATHY is the ability to feel as if the suffering occuring to someone else is actually happening to you. That ability is essential if we are to find the courage to overcome our own fear and take action to help -- even in the face of danger. No one chooses to become a refugee. It is what you become when you run out of choices.

I ask myself, as I hope you are asking, "What would I be doing if my country and my neighborhood were suddently overtaken by evil butchers who were randomly bombing, torturing and raping? If the only way to save my son was to flee our home and my country with only the clothes on our backs, who would take us in? How desperate must parents be to take infants and small children in over-crowded, patched rafts across open sea?

There but for the Grace of God and the luck of the draw go we.

I get the fear. Terrorists and Islamaphobia are very real. But we must not turn away in fear. We must collectively face and fight evil and wrap our arms around its victims. The Syrian refugee crisis is just as real and just as inhuman as the slaughter of Parisians relaxing in a cafe or enjoying a concert. As we mourn the dead, we must not turn away from the living -- the millions of refugees, for whom help and hope these days are in short supply. 

If you are asking yourself, "What can I do?", I hope you will listen to this powerful interview with Queen Rania of Jordan, one of the most articulate, informed and respected voices in the Mideast on the Syrian crisis. Jordan's Queen knows of what she speaks. Her country is now hosting over 600,000 Syrian refugees -- 20% of Jordan's population! There are 140,000 Syrian children presently in Jordanian schools, and the country is spending close to 25% of its national budget to care for these desperate human beings who are as scared of ISIS as we are in the West. The only difference between them and us is that they have come face-to-face with the enemy. 

What can we do? Queen Rania is calling upon the world to do two three things: 

  • Join Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Germany and other countries in hosting settlements or families that have been vetted. Since 2011, the USA has accepted only 1,500 Syrian refugees, while 6,000 are arriving DAILY on the shores of Greece. The 10,000 that President Obama has proposed for 2016 is a drop in the world's refugee bucket. And all will go through nearly a year of  multiple screenings before they ever touch our shores.
  • Give money to agencies that are helping countries that are stepping up to this humanitarian crisis through the Syrian American Refugee Network (SARN) or UNHCR, explained in this Cate Blanchett appeal.
  • Find a political solution to the humanitarian crisis and the growing evil of ISIS, which the United States must help to lead. 

As I think through what my own response should be to the moral panic that is seeping into every corner of the world, I am reminded of the powerful African tribal mantra that I learned about during a recent trip to South Africa. UBUNTU. It means: I AM because YOU ARE.

As a global family we are stronger together. I'm ashamed to read that 31 U.S. Governors want to close their state borders to Syrian refugees. I'm dumbstruck when the powerful County Executive in my own community demands that plans for a housing development and community center for Syrian refugees be banned from wealthy Oakland County, Michigan.

Only cowards turn away in the face of evil. 

I am an American baby boomer, born just after World War II, so I have never experienced a war that felt this close. The world has gotten so much smaller in my lifetime. Communication connects us instantly. News, particularly horror, travels instantly and becomes part of the global conversation within minutes. The challenge we are facing is not a war of Muslims against Christians, of the West against the Mideast, or of refugees against those of us lucky enough not to have been faced with having to run for our lives. We are facing a new kind of war -- a World War of extremists against all moderate and moral human beings in every country in the world. 

True leaders do not turn away in apathy, nor run away in fear. They bring out the best in our collective selves, which is what we desperately need at this moment. 

 

 

 

UBUNTU: I Am Because You Are

May 29, 2015

I just returned from a 10-day trip to South Africa.  The trigger for my travel was the World Cornerstone Conference of the International Women’s Forum, hosted by the leading women of the new nation (only 21 years old!) of the Republic of South Africa. 

Entitled “Legacy & Inheritance: Journey to the Future,” the Johannesburg conference attracted over 600 women leaders from 30 countries and five continents.  The 3-day agenda was packed with some of the most respected and visionary thinkers, activists, elected leaders and business people at work today in southern Africa. 

I was struck by their willingness to openly engage in courageous conversations about the lessons learned from South Africa’s disturbing, apartheid past, as well as the challenges they are tackling today as they work to build a “rainbow nation” that lives up to the non-racist, non-sexist, “Ubuntu” promises of South Africa’s (1997) Constitution.

What is Ubuntu?  It is a deeply-held idea from the Southern African region of the world that literally means “human-ness.” Our conference hosts defined it as: “I am because you are.” It was expressed in another way on a beautifully-painted bench on Signal Hill overlooking the spectacular Cape Town harbor, which read:  “Your Respect is My Strength.”

South Africa is one of the shining lights of the African continent, although as a democracy it is a very young nation, born April 27, 1994.

I could write pages about what I learned during my first visit to this spectacular country of 47 million people speaking 11 official languages and striving to collectively heal from the damage done to the nation’s psyche and soul as they look to the future. But I’ll try to be concise. So, here are a few highlights, whose themes are universally relevant to individuals and nations aspiring to the values of Ubuntu.  

Stunning Beauty, Bitter Lessons -- My travels took me from the crashing waves of the Cape of Good Hope and lush fields and majestic mountains of Wine Country to close encounters with born free lions, elephants, leopards and rhinos in Kruger National Park. Blessed with gold, diamonds and spectacular beauty, South Africa is one of the continent’s jewels.

But its bitter history cannot be ignored. I walked the streets of SOWETO (Southwest Townships of Johannesburg), home to over 4 million people, some living in tin shacks with no water or electricity, as well as the homes of two Nobel Peace Prize Winners – Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu.  And I soaked in the sobering lessons of humanity at its worst on display at the Apartheid Museum and the Hector Pieterson Museum, named for the 13-year old boy who was shot by police during the student uprisings of June 1976. The photo of his death alerted the world to the tragedy of apartheid. All over the world, including in my own country, racism still raises its ugly head.

The Path to Equal Justice. For me, the most powerful voice of the conference was that of the Honorable Joyce Banda, former president of Malawi and the 2nd female head of state in an African nation. She unapologetically focuses her efforts on lifting women and children, who are the majority of the world’s poor. “Education breaks the yolk that oppresses most women and girls,” she said. “We must begin with education and then invest in women who are natural producers . . . of life . . . of food from the ground and as entrepreneurs.”

Dr. Banda challenged the global IWF leaders to “live extraordinary lives” and use our talents to change the world, telling us, “You are only a leader when you reach out and lift others. Are you sleeping on the job? Or are you awake to the cries of the human family?”

Lessons From Animals – And how can I not mention the impact of spending three days in the company of some of the world’s most spectacular wild and free animals at a tented camp in Kruger.  I couldn’t help but notice the dramatic differences in male and female behavior.    

Over and over, I observed the collective strength of matriarchal societies where females bond together to feed their young and survive. Elephants, zebras, lions, hyenas, antelope and many others kick males out of the herd when they reach puberty and start “causing trouble. The females decide what is best for the group and the survival of the next generation. Their strength is collective.  Male strength was individual and concerned with their own physical needs – food and sex.  It is the female lions who do the hunting, but the males eat their fill before the lionesses get a bite.  Adult males live solitary lives, fighting other males for access to females during mating season.

Observing the ways that matriarchal instincts and collective female strength protect life and nurture healthy group behavior, I couldn’t help but wonder why and when we lost our collective strength. In most societies, adult females are paired off with individual males, which distances women and children from the protection of other females. And because most women are physically weaker than men, we are vulnerable to dangerous males. Rampant domestic violence, campus rape and sexual trafficking of young girls are all glaring examples of how far females have strayed from the wisdom of nature. I've felt that collective power each time I've been privileged to spend time with women who travel from all corners of the globe to learn and be energized by one another at the outstanding IWF global conferences.

Two fabulous examples are the leaders in this picture, Ntsiki Memela-Motumi, a Major General in the South African army and Marsha Sampson-Johnson, a speaker, change agent and retired Bell South senior executive.   

 Making It In A Man’s World Is Just the Beginning. I’ll leave you with the words of an African leader who told her gathered highly-accomplished sisters, “Too many of us are congratulating ourselves and one another for ‘making it in a man’s world.’ But that’s just the beginning. The real accomplishment will be making this a ‘human world” where all god’s creatures can thrive.”

Ubuntu!

 

 

Where Are All the Women on Our Money?

April 9, 2015

Multiple other countries leave the U.S. in the dust when it comes to women on our currency.  Ireland, Argentina, Israel, Turkey, Sweden, Mexico, Brazil, the Phillipines are just a few who have honored some of their greatest female citizens in this way. It is time for us to put women on our money.  Momentum is building to put an American Shero on the $20 bill, beginning in the year 2020 -- the 100 year anniversary of American women finally winning the right to vote. I voted for Civil Rights leader Rosa Parks.  You can vote at womenon20s.org.  

Death By A Thousand Cuts

April 8, 2015

Dear Thinkers, Friends, Global Citizens, 

The “fire in my belly” is focused on helping to create a world where women and girls can achieve their full potential. It fuels my work as a Keynote Speaker, Author and Voice for those who cannot speak for themselves. It is also the area of greatest opportunity for human evolution. Because, at the beginning of the 21st Century, our greatest untapped natural resources are the brainpower, talent and wisdom of the female half of the human race.

 But I also care deeply about protecting and respecting the safety of the world’s children, the health of our planet, and the right of every individual, as our U.S. Constitution affirms, “to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” That is why I am dismayed and grieving, along with millions of Americans, over a stunning event that just occurred in our nation. A fleeing male, African American U.S. citizen was shot in the back eight times by a white, male, South Carolina Police Officer. Because someone was courageous enough to capture those terrible moments on cell phone video, the officer has been fired and charged with murder. The video is difficult, but important, to watch. 

In every corner of our globe, humans are the only life form that attacks its own for inexplicable reasons. This is one of those days when I stagger under the weight of another tragic commentary on our species.  My response is an even deeper commitment to do everything in my power to help bring balance to the decision-making of the human family. We must CLOSE THE GENDER LEADERSHIP GAP. Let’s not leave it for others to do.  

On My Mind – What else am I thinking about?  

 

Spain- I spent the month of February in Spain and was privileged to teach at ESADE Business School in Madrid, as part of PROMOCIONA -- an Executive Women’s Leadership Program for women from top companies in Spain. Here’s a photo of these fabulous, young leaders just after they received copies of my book, POWERING UP! 

 • Ellen Pao and Sexism in Silicon Valley. Reddit CEO Pao may have lost her case but her conviction in confronting VC firm Kleiner Perkins has turned up the heat on hostile, frat-boy work climates that are driving women out of STEM fields in staggering numbers. Here’s one of the best articles I've read on the ongoing impact. 

• Women in Tech Experiencing Death by 1,000 Cuts. Those are the words of Ellen Pao. Here's a terrific Harvard Business Review article on the facts behind Pao's compelling claim. Women Rising: The Unseen Barriers. 

•  A Woman's Place is On the Money. Momentum is building in the U.S. for the first woman to be featured on our paper currency.  African American Shero Rosa Parks, whose refusal to sit in the back of an Alabama bus symbolizes the beginning of the Civil Rights movement in the USA, is the leading vote-getter to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. Here’s the link to vote. 

• London Women's Leadership Conference. I’m thrilled to have been invited to be one of the Keynote Speakers at the June Women Mean Business Conference in London, co-sponsored by the Women’s Leadership Network and the UK’s Department for Business Innovation and Skills. My theme: Invite Yourself to the Leadership Dance! 

• Jimmy Carter Raises His Voice Against Religious Sexism. The former U.S. president and deeply-spiritual Christian has just severed his ties with the Southern Baptist Convention over church leaders re-newed insistence on the subservience of women to men. Here's his compelling explanation of why he has taken this painful but powerful step. I’ve long admired and appreciated the decades of contributions President Carter and his wife, Rosalyn, have made to lifting the human family. I highly recommend his most recent book, A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence and Power. 

Cool Upcoming Events: 

 Global – Johannesburg, South Africa. The Global Cornerstone Conference of the International Women's Forum, one of the preminent global networks of women leaders, will be in South Africa this year. Over 600 inspiring and accomplished “Sisters” from nearly 40 countries will gather to learn, discuss and consider, "Legacy & Inheritance: Journey Into the Future." I’ll be there.  

USA – New York City, April 22-24. Women in the World Annual Conference is one of the BEST I have ever attended. Big Names; Powerful Content. If you haven't attended, add it to your bucket list -- this year or next! 

• USA – Detroit, Michigan, April 28. Women of Courage & Achievement Awards, hosted by Michigan Women’s Foundation attracts over 800 movers and shakers. Great networking. See you there!  

 USA – SE Michigan, April 30. WONonder Women Awards, annual event hosted by the Women Officials Network (WON), which is committed to increasing the number of women in office. I’ll see you there, too!

 

Je Suis Charlie

January 13, 2015

In the wake of the tragic shootings in Paris and the controversy in the USA over the movie, THE INTERVIEW, I've been thinking a lot about leaders and the importance of continuing to raise our voices, even in the face of push-back, disdain and threats.

Sometimes those threats can mean life or death, as in the case of the French journalists or the over three million, including 40 world leaders, who marched arm in arm in Paris to proclaim, "Je suis, Charlie. We will not be silenced!". 

Or, it can be as subtle as well-intentioned, but insidious, career advice. I'll never forget the Ford executive who told me, "Anne, you've got to stop always seeing things through the eyes of a woman. People are getting really tired of it!" The "people" he was referring to, of course, were all men, many of whom would have preferred I always saw things their way, or at least stifled myself more often! 

My 2015 message is simply this: BE COURAGEOUS. Dare to continue raising your voice to make a positive difference. Everywhere we look, the human family is crying out for the mothers of the world -- women -- to step up and take an equal role in shaping the economic, cultural, educational, military and public policy decisions that impact all human possibility. 

I love the words of Admiral Michelle Howard, vice chief of U.S. Naval Operations, who is raising the Navy's game. She recently told a Washington, DC audience, "My definition of leadership is 'Not standing around and doing nothing while watching everything go to hell!'” Everywhere we look, things are going to hell.

Pick your passion. Then put your shoulder to the wheel and find the courage to let your voice be heard. 

Dare to Raise Your Voice MORE in 2015

January 9, 2015

In the wake of the tragic shootings in Paris and the controversy in the USA over the movie, THE INTERVIEW, I've been thinking a lot about leaders and the importance of continuing to raise our voices, even in the face of push-back, disdain and threats.

Sometimes those threats can mean life or death, as in the case of the French journalists or Martin Luther King, Jr. and the thousands who marched with him in Selma, Alabama (the topic of a powerful, new film). Often, it can mean social ostracism and disdain as Susan B. Anthony and the American Suffragettes faced for decades as they fought for the right to vote. 

Or, it can be as subtle as well-intentioned, but insidious, career advice. I'll never forget the Ford executive who told me, "Anne, you've got to stop always seeing things through the eyes of a woman. People are getting really tired of it!" The "people" he was referring to, of course, were all men, many of whom would have preferred I always saw things their way, or at least stifled myself more often! 

My 2015 message is simply this: BE COURAGEOUS. Dare to continue raising your voice to make a positive difference. Everywhere we look, the human family is crying out for the mothers of the world -- women -- to step up and take an equal role in shaping the economic, cultural, educational, military and public policy decisions that impact all human possibility. 

I love the words of Admiral Michelle Howard, vice chief of U.S. Naval Operations, who is raising the Navy's game. She recently told a Washington, DC audience, "My definition of leadership is 'Not standing around and doing nothing while watching everything go to hell!'” Everywhere we look, things are going to hell. Pick your passion. Then put your shoulder to the wheel and let your voice be heard -- particularly if you are the lone voice who brings different perspective to decisions.

Leadership is rarely easy. I draw courage from watching or reading about others in action, such as the movies: Selma, directed by Ava DuVernay; Iron-Jawed Angels and Wild, starring Reese Witherspoon. Or, pick up, "Race Across Alaska," the fascinating book on Libby Riddles, the first woman to win the 1,000-mile Iditarod dog-sled race. Plus, right before our eyes, fabulous examples of powerful, brave and wise women are rising up and taking action. For example: 

  • United States Congress. We now have 100 women (out of 535) elected to the U.S. Senate (20) and House of Representatives (80). That's nowhere close to what it should be. Two of our newest Congresswomen, Brenda Lawrence and Debbie Dingell, are from Michigan and pesonal friends. Here's a fascinating articles on the women who led the way in the ultimate "boys club" and the sexism even U.S. Senators still contend with.
  • DC's Matriarchy - For the first time in history, the Mayor, Police Chief and School Chancellor of an American city are all women -- and two are women of color. It's time for the rest of America to catch up!
  • Women of Africa Rising -- Kah Walla, a courageous political leader I met years ago at a global conference, is running for president in Cameroon. Her TedTalk is a must-view primer on this critically important continent. 
  • Marissa Mayer and Silicon Sexism - 2014 brought fascinating revelations about the blatant sexism in Silicon Valley. In Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo! author Nicolas Carlson blames Mayer's Oscar de la Renta shoes !!!) instead of Silicon Valley culture for any sexism she faced. The recent review in NY Times magazine is worth your time.
  • Actress and activist Geena Davis continues to raise her voice on behalf of girls and women. She is partnering with Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods and Walmart to host a film festival promoting women and diversity in movies. 
  • Hillary Clinton -- Yes, of course she is running for president in 2016. And she will be elected. Let me know if you want to help!

The Instigators are Watching Us. We need to start innoculating and preparing our next generation of girls much younger to successfully navigate the toxic cultural waters they must wade through on their way to embracing all the possibilities of Womaninity. Over the holidays, a dear friend and fabulous "Innovator" entrepreneur invited me to get to know her beautiful daughter, part of the generation I call "the Instigators." This young Instigator show her Mom and me that even 8 months old isn't too young to start learning to "power up"! 

Remember: There's nothing to fear in this moment. And this moment is all there really is. 

Global Women Leaders Gather & Gamergate Backlash

November 16, 2014

These days, I think of myself as a SCOUT -- lucky enough to travel freely in multiple directions, meeting leaders, from across industries and global cultures, who are on the cuttting edge of women's progress. It's not enough for me to experience the pulse of change. I feel the responsibility to share what I've learned and observed with my network. I'm deeply aware that each of you has your shoulder to the wheel, pushing the edges of possibility in your circles of influence. We need you there.... because we are all laboring in the same vineyard.  So here's my news from the front lines!

World Leadership Conference of International Women's Forum: I was one of over 700 women leaders from 30 countries who gathered recently in Atlanta, the home of the US Civil Rights movement. The themeHuman Rights/Human Responsibility: Towards a Better Future. Highlights for me of three days of powerful dialogue with brilliant, courageous and inspiring thought leaders included: 

  • Andrew Young, former Atlanta Mayor, Georgia Congressman and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, needed only a couple of minutes to light a fire in the hearts of attendees at the opening reception, telling us: "Keep raising hell! You are doing the work of the angels.  Remember -- well-behaved women never make history!" The opening reception was held at the spectacular Center for Civil and Human Rights, which just opened in June. The interactive museum includes a replica of "white only" lunch counters where courageous African Americans defied local laws and dared to sit down in the early 1960's. Visitors can sit at the counter, put on a headset and hear the sounds of the hatred that black citizens faced, including people being pulled off stools beside them and beaten.
  • Nobel Peace Prize Winner Leymah Gbowee and author Sheryl WuDunn teamed up for a powerful presentation and discussion about human rights abuses that girls and women throughout the world still face. I've read Gbowee's book, watched the documentary about the women's rebellion that she led to stop 10 years of war in Liberia - Pray the Devil Back to Hell, and have heard her speek multiple times. Each time, she inspires me to do more. Her message in Atlanta, "We need to unleash the greatness in girls. Reach out to one girl and take her on a leadership journey -- someone who is not related to you. Make it part of your legacy!"
  • Memorable Women: Of all the fantastic women I met during this conference, three stood out for me. First, the Honorable Maureen Harding Clark. As an Irish-American whose grandmother hopped a boat for America at age 16, I was see thrilled to see her inducted (photo) into the IWF Hall of Fame.  A member of the International Criminal Tribunal, former member of the Ireland Supreme Court and one of the most respected jurists in the world, she is down-to-earth and oozing with self-deprecating, Irish wit. When we shared an elevator, she told me, "I've started reading your book, Anne Doyle. If there is anything I disagree with, you'll be sure to hear from me!"
  • Second, I was lucky enough to sit down at lunch next to Linda Davis, who introduced herself as a rancher from New Mexico and the mother of six children. We talked about our mutual love of horses. She never mentioned that she would be honored at the closing reception as an IWF legend -- nor that she is in the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame and the CEO of CS Cattle Company, one of the most honored cattle and quarter horse ranches in the West.  She offered to show me around NE New Mexico -- on horseback. One of my 2015 goals is to take her up on that invitation!
  • Finally, former First Lady Rosyln Carter, one of the founder's of the Georgia chapter of the International Women's Forum, who was honored for her 44-years of human rights activism. She felt fragile when I shook her hand, but she spoke powerfully about her lifelong commitment to raise awareness about mental health.

GAMERGATE: If you haven't heard about the recent uproar and terrifying backlash against outspoken women who have dared to raise their voices against the pervasive violence toward women in video games, you need to know. Female game developers who have dared to complain receive rape and death threats. And Anita Sarkeesian, a feminist media critic who has done excellent reporting on the excessive violence and victimization of women, was forced to cancel a presentation at Utah State University after USU received threats of a mass shooting if the "craven little whore" was allowed to speak. It was my 22-year-old son, Kevin, who brought this outrageous situation to my attention. Hope you are paying attention to the images and messages that gamers in your family are saturated with.

GOLDIEBLOX TAKES ON BARBIE: Finally, here's some fun. Take a look at the latest GoldieBlox ad about the first action figure for girls. With the gift season coming up, hope you'll keep the message in mind as you choose gifts. Remember the words of the indominatable Leymah Gbowee and help "unleash the power of girls"!

Happy Thanksgiving, Anne

 

 

Relentless Incrementalism

August 10, 2014

As a long-time journalist, I'm always looking for the "edges" of cultural change and fresh thinking. Here are several items related to women's leadership and the global gender gap, which have caught my attention recently. 

 Relentless Incrementalism -- Compelling two words that a U.S. State Department Foreign Officer recently shared with me over a cup of cofee in Washington, DC. They are her mantra for making a positive difference when working in a new culture and country, which is her life's work.  "First, you have to look for and understand where the cultural "edges" are," she told me. "Then, you try to steadily move them in a positive way. That's relentless incrementalism." I love the image -- two very powerful words that can be a great mindset for just about anything you're trying to accomplish. 

The Confidence Gap -- Atlantic Magazine recently published an article that made my blood boil. Here's the subtitle: "Evidence shows that women are less self-assured than men—and that to succeed, confidence matters as much as competence." I'm sick to death of articles on "what's wrong with women" compared to men. There's NOTHING WRONG WITH WOMEN. We've spent nearly five decades educating ourselves, learning the rules of every professional arena (written by and for men) and acquiring the professional seasoning and savvy that centuries of women were denied the opportunity to learn. Here's the Atlantic Magazine article that had me ranting.  What do you think? Would love to hear your reactions. 

Having It All -- Matt Lauer asked GM CEO Mary Barra whether she could be a both a good Mother and an effective CEO. And Indra Nooyi, long-time CEO of PEPSICO, was asked the same question at the Aspen Institute's recent Ideas Festival. This question has been put to women leaders ad nauseum! It's time to start asking this question of male leaders. When a male CEO recently spoke up about this issue, his frankness made national news. 

Diversity Toll -- Did you hear about the research just released by the University of Colorado, which found that women and people of color can pay a “political price” for aligning themselves and leading around issues of Diversity & Inclusion?  But guess what.  White men earn points for taking the lead on diversity and inclusion! The news made the Wall Street Journal.  This doesn't surprise me, but confirms my believe that the the engagement of men is the "Leadership Missing Link" needed for us to make significant progress. And as for "the price" women may pay for speaking up about the gender gap -- remember Mother Teresa's mantra: Do It Anyway! 

Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Index Fund (PXWEX). Finally, here's the most exciting development I've come across in months.  Sallie Krawcheck, former Wall Street SuperStar and now owner of Ellevate (fomerly 85 Broads) has teamed up with Pax World Funds to create a stock mutual fund that invests in 400 of the top female-focused global corporations, including Blue Chips such as Microsoft, Nestle, Xerox and Lockheed Martin.  I recently interviewed Joe Keefe, CEO of Pax World Funds, who told me, "If you don't put your money to work in support of your values, you are leaving your most powerful arrow in your quiver."  Here's the segment that the PBS NewsHour did on the new fund, including interviews with Krawcheck and Keefe. Women’s fund seeks share of prosperity for female-focused firms.  I'm planning to invest. Hope you'll consider doing the same and share this news with your network.

Finally, just for fun, here's a photo with Sloan, a big, powerful, fabulous mare.  Horsin' Around is my favorite way to re-charge my batteries.  

Thoughts on Mothers and Mothering

May 8, 2014

My 22-year-old son, Kevin, and I were watching Saturday Night Live together recently, just a few days before Mother's Day. During the commercial break he said, "Geez, why are there so many commercials about mothers?!!!" I looked at him and said, "Do you know?" He just gave me one of those "cat ate the canary" grins. No need for more words. He's a guy, after all. When it comes to communication, I've learned: less is more. Can't wait to see what he's cooking up for Mother's Day!

If you are a Mother, Happy Mother's Day. And congratulations for surviving the roller coaster ride. I had a chance to swap stories with other working Moms recently, as part of a "Mom Squad" interview for CBS-TV Detroit.

Mothering, as a single parent from the time Kevin was less than two, is -- without question -- the hardest thing I have ever done. It was truly the only really important thing I tackled that left me feeling as if I might fail miserably. But my son and I got through those "terrible teens" and I secretly smile at the man he is becoming. I have no idea how he will earn a living, neither does he at this moment.

But I have no doubt that he will be a wonderful man. Just as importantly, there is no doubt that I am a better woman -- a better human -- because of the rough edges he has steadily sanded off of me. And there is no better balm for decades of battle scars from the gender wars than an adorable little boy -- even on those days when they're no so adorable!

These are the days I also think about my own Mother, Isabel Molloy Doyle. She was a woman ahead of her times. Highly-educated. Engaged in the world. A global traveler. Politically-informed and active; she ran for County Commissioner in her early 70's. And she raised her seven children in the 1950's on carrot juice, brown bread, brewer's yeast in our pancakes, and handfuls of 500 mg Vitamin Cs for our colds.

But her biggest gift to me and all of her children was her COURAGE. Isabel Doyle modeled for us how to confront authority in an effective, credible way. She did it with doctors, teachers, priests, strangers and, of course, her life partner! It was an incredible feeling to know she had your back. But she wasn't one to defend her children at all costs. We'd better have told her "THE WHOLE TRUTH" before we asked her to take our side! This is a picture of my older brother, Danny, and me with Isabel a few years before the rest of the clan arrived. I think it was a Father's Day present for our Dad.

I hope Mother's Day brings up great memories of the ways your own Mother -- and YOU -- valiantly struggled to do one of the toughest jobs in the world. Here's my favorite quote on the challenge: "Becoming a parent is one of the scariest things you'll ever do. It's a decision to spend the rest of your life with your heart walking around outside your body."

Happy Mother's Day -- and Hang in There.  It's worth it!  Anne

Harvard Business Review Fresh Insight on Women Rising

August 21, 2013

Terrific Harvard Business Review article on Women Rising and how to crack through "Second Generation Gender Bias" that is still so pervasive.  It's much more subtle than the overt and legal discrimination of years past, but to reach our full, individual potential, women must push against cultural headwinds, while ambitious men are carried by cultural tailwinds they don't even recognize as the wind at their backs.  Here's the link.

Behind Black Robes, Hijabs And Niqabs, Saudi Women Are Dreaming Big

June 7, 2013

Thanks to an invitation from the U.S. State Department, I recently spent 10-days in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. The Gulf Region is one of the last corners of the world I ever expected to be invited to speak about changing roles for women. But I was, and I jumped at the chance to engage in cross-cultural discussions with students, journalists, business leaders, medical professionals and more PhDs than I could count. 

 Did I have to cover-up? Yes, I wore a long, black abaya over my street clothes whenever I stepped out of my hotel room. That was a small price to pay for such an incredible learning experience.

Behind those mysterious, black robes, our Saudi "sisters, and the men who support them, are on the verge of stunning change. Here's what I wrote for Forbeswoman.  

When Amway and Microsoft Team Up For Women's Leadership, Sky's the Limit

April 16, 2013

Two global, economic powerhouses just  took an historic step forward, together, for womankind. For Amway, it was the first time they have EVER hosted a women’s leadership event. For Microsoft, it was the first time in the Midwest.

I was lucky enough to witness their first steps in an important new direction and captured the highlights and insights for Forbeswoman. Click here to read. 

NASCAR'S Danica Patrick & Dad's Empower Daughters

February 25, 2013

Did you catch the change blowing in the wind at this year's Daytona 500?

It wasn't just that Danica Patrick shattered two more gender speed barriers. It was also the number of little girls, including daughters of some of NASCAR's most famous Dads, who have caught Danicamania. What does it all mean? Huge impact for our next generation of girls.  Here's what I wrote for Forbeswoman. 

Time For Sports To Stop Limiting Women to Sideline Eye Candy

January 24, 2013

As one of the first generation of women TV sports broadcasters, I had to weigh in on the controversy stirred up by ESPN broadcaster Brent Musburgur's recent on-air drooling over women fans and sideline reporters.  Here's the piece I wrote for Forbes.  

Radio Interview with Emily Gail, ESPN Radio Hawaii

December 2, 2012

Emily Gail was a high-energy Motor City businesswoman in the late 70s and early 80s when I was covering sports for CBS-TV, Detroit and helping to open sports locker rooms for women journalists.  She recently interviewed me about those days and my new book on women's leadership, POWERING UP!  Click here to listen.  Scroll down to the Nov. 17th interview.  

100 Top Websites for Women

July 4, 2012

Here are two great sources of excellent information for aspiring women (and men interested in what we're up to!) who want to make a difference in the world.  Forbeswoman, where I am a contributing blogger, just published its "100 "Top 100 Websites for Women," including 85Broads and several other favorites of mine.  

And the League of Extraordinary Women is a treasure trove of fantastic, women- led organizations committed to helping to lift the human family.  Here's Fast Company's list of the Best. 

Enjoy. 

Don't Say Vagina in Michigan and Don't Sit At Men-Only Tables

June 24, 2012

Gender Landmines have been exploding all around recently.  From women legislators being "muzzled" in Michigan to women executives being told they had to move from a "men-only" table in one of the most prestigious private business clubs in the USA.  

Believe me, I can't make this stuff up! If you're still wondering if the War on Women is a figment of our imagination, here's my perspective, which I wrote recently for Forbeswoman.com.


 

WARNING TO WOMEN:  Don't Say Vagina and Don't Sit at a Men-Only Table

 

I'm still flabbergasted over two astonishing, recent incidents -- one triggered by a Michigan legislator who dared to use the word "vagina" during a floor debate over proposed regulation of female bodies, and the other, which I personally witnessed, involving a dues-paying member of Philadelphia's Union League being ordered to move from a “men-only table" she and her guests had inadvertently chosen in an empty dining-room.

Throw in the fact that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is investigating the 100-year-old Girl Scouts and I have all the evidence I need that the "war on women" is not only real, it's gaining momentum.

Michigan’s Vagina Dialogue

Last week, Michigan’s House of Representatives was considering some of the most restrictive, anti-choice legislation in the country. During the floor debate, Rep. Lisa Brown (D) told her colleagues, "I'm flattered that you are all so interested in my vagina, but No means No!”[youtubevid id="BGS9vo1avVg"] Brown's mostly male colleagues apparently have no problem passing laws to regulate vaginas, but were outraged when she uttered the word in public.

Another Michigan legislator, Rep. Barb Byrum, (D) attempted to add an amendment to the bill requiring men to prove a medical emergency before being allowed a vasectomy.

Both female leaders were publicly scolded. And they next day they were muzzled. House Speaker Jase Bolger (R) refused to allow either  elected official  to speak -- on any topic.

The good news is that vaginas everywhere -- and men who support the "V's" right to make their own medical decisions -- are outraged.  Rochelle Riley of the Detroit Free Press called it an "Attack on Women -- and Democracy." Detroit News columnist Laura Berman objected to women only being allowed to speak  if they agree with men in power.

Then the Rachel Maddow Show called.  And playwright Eve Ensler is flying in Monday to lead eight female legislators in a performance of the Vagina Monologues on the steps of the Michigan Capitol. Suddenly the word that "shall not be named" on the floor of the Michigan House is going viral.

Can you imagine what Steven Colbert could do with this? It would be funny, if it weren’t so outrageously tragic.

Stepping On A Gender Landmine in Philadelphia's Union League.  

English:
Philadelphia's Union League English: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The second disturbing example of the cultural headwinds that aspiring women still face occurred at Philadelphia's storied Union League, which considers itself one of the premier City Clubs in the country and, according to its website, a “diverse gathering place for the business and intellectual elite."

Like many such private clubs, the 160-year-old Union League was long known as one of the “hardest to crack old boys’ network" in the City of Brotherly Love. Today, not only can women apply for membership, the League boasts its first woman president.

All that’s great.  But imagine this scene.

Three high-powered women, two PhDs and an author (me!), each with decades of expertise in transformational leadership and work culture equity, spend the morning leading a discussion on women's leadership with some of Philadelphia's most influential women. One of the three, Dr. Ilene Wasserman, then invites her two, out-of-town guests to join her for lunch at the Union League, where she and her husband are new members.

When we arrived, the elegant Founders dining room was empty. We were invited to, "Sit anywhere you'd like."  We chose an isolated table by the window. Our drinks arrived and we began settling in for a relaxing lunch.

But then an atomic moment occurred. Two embarrased employees approached and apologetically informed us we would have to change tables. "This is the club table of the Groundhogs and Crickets and the president of the club is adamant that no women be allowed to sit at this table,” we were told. “You can choose any other table, but you must move."

At first, Dr. WassermanDr. Placida Gallegos and I thought it was a joke.  But when the employees informed us that they "feared they could be fired" if they did not get us to move, we realized we had inadvertently stumbled upon one of the League's leftover, gender landmines.

So researchers that we are, we probed, asking, “Is there any table in this dining room where African Americans can never sit?"  The employees were shocked by the question."Of course not."

"Are there any tables in this dining room where men can never sit?” Same answer. "No."

What Do Leaders Do? 

So what should leaders do, when confronted with blatant or insidious, gender bias? Other than being outraged, what strategic steps can we take to turn these confrontations into transformational moments that can lift everyone involved to a higher level of awareness and behavior?

While researching my book, POWERING UP!  How America's Women Achievers Become Leaders, I learned that transformational leaders don't stand on the sidelines when the going gets tough. They Raise Their Voices. They Break the Rules. They Claim Power. And they repeatedly Drink at Dangerous Waters.

American women are at a key moment in our evolution toward gender parity. Evidence is mounting that hard-fought gains achieved decades ago could slip away. Leaders pay attention to the forces at play around them -- and act.

What did Wasserman, Gallegos and I do? We decided to move – purely to protect the employees from possible consequences if we made a scene.  But we took two other steps to make sure the learning opportunity wasn’t lost on the Union League's leadership or its Members.

We alerted the news media.  And, after accepting the profuse apologies of the League's General Manager and President about what they insisted was "a terrible misunderstanding," we asked for a commitment that the Board would review all "written and unwritten policies, practices and traditions" that are contrary to the League's 21st Century, inclusive image.

What Are American Women Afraid Of?

Earlier this year, I had the privilege of hearing Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowee speak at the Women in the World conference in NY.  Gbowee is the Liberian leader who rose from the ruins of a decade of horrifying civil war in her country to lead the women's revolution that finally stopped the bloodshed.

English: Nobel Peace laureate, Leymah Gbowee, ...
English: Nobel Peace laureate, Leymah Gbowee, speaks during a press conference at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, VA (US) on October 14, 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She is a courageous survivor who has witnessed dead bodies in the streets being eaten by dogs, fought to save her children and herself from starvation and stood up to warlords who threatened to kill her. I  will never forget the moment when she looked out at the NY audience and asked, "Where are all the angry American women?  What are American women afraid of?"

Great questions, Sister Leymah.

What are we afraid of?  How many women elected officials will be silenced?  Women leaders marginalized and reminded of "their place" -- be it in private clubs or corporations?  Or organizations committed to empowering girls and women, such as the Girl Scouts and the Association of Women Religious, relentlessly harassed before American women wake up and realize our struggles for gender parity have just begun?

Are you an Achiever who is content to squat on the shoulders of those who fought hard for the banquet of opportunities too many American women now take for granted? Or, are you a Leader who understands that our daughters and granddaughters are counting on us to show them the way forward and to continue to push the edges of possibility for the human family?

Next time you are faced with an opportunity to confront gender bias, Ask yourself, "What would Leymah do?"

 

 

St. Patrick's Day Reminder of My Greatest Mentor

March 17, 2012

A highly-respected Detroit sports broadcaster, Vince Doyle was an unwavering advocate for female sports journalists -- including their right to equal access to sports locker rooms.  To meet one of the world's great mentors,  click here.   

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