How Do We Address Gender Inequality In 2017?

I am on a flight over the Pacific and I am angry, confused, motivated and sick to my stomach after watching the movie Suffragettes (2015) . I know I am late in seeing this movie but I must say no matter when you watch it, it will touch you deeply. To watch all those women severely beaten, imprisoned, their children removed from their care, their husbands condemning them as no longer “their” property and out on their own, the list of atrocities are endless.

It is 2017 and while women have the right to vote, they are still or once again, I am not sure which, often subjected to similar atrocities just like the suffragettes.

A female sports broadcaster was stalked by a man, photos taken of her undressing in her hotel room and then posted on the Internet for all to see. Her humiliation was compounded with her employer requiring that she do a television interview BEFORE she could come back to work. She did not ask for the humiliation, she did not encourage anyone to harm her; she was only guilty of being a beautiful, fit woman working in a predominately male world of sports.

A female tennis player has been suspended by her sponsors because a drug she has been taking for 10+ years is now on the doping list. She admits that she did not look at the communications sent to all players that this drug was now banned. She accepts the responsibility that she made a mistake. She stood up and faced her peers, the press and the rest of the world and said “Yes, I have been taking them for over 10 years and it was my mistake to not have been better informed. She did not hide, she did not say she did not inhale or she thought it was candy and not drugs or whatever million excuses we hear from other athletes. She “womaned” up!!!

In contrast to the University Law School dean who sexually harassed his executive assistant. He claims he “was just thanking her for all her hard work” Seriously? The assistant filed a lawsuit and the first “punishment” doled out to this gentlemen was a 10% reduction in salary and a mandatory sexual harassment course. Overtime, others came forward complaining of similar treatment from the dean. The University administration had intentionally not seriously punished the dean because “they did not want to hurt his career”.  Now they have finally suspended him BUT with full pay.

Women continue to be held to a different standard, continue to be marginalized but yet we are the over 50% of the population, 70-80% of the buying power. The suffragettes turned to violence to make their point and to get the attention they were seeking because they said, that men only understand war. It took one of them being killed to provide the movement what it needed to be taken seriously and soon after effective.

I am not suggesting we should incite violence as that in my mind is sinking to the lowest common denominator. There is more than enough violence in this country today so asking for more does not seem right. However, I do think its time women stood up for themselves and their sisters knowing that we have their back. The double standards in the workplace, in social circles, in government need to stop. The suffragettes said, we need action not words, but I think we need both. We need to spread that the word about these inequalities but we must also take action to stop them whenever and wherever we see them, hear of them etc. Until we are moving together everyday, this crap will continue. We need to educate our male friend, colleagues and family and bring them on board our train. We need to not let what the suffragettes endured for the right to vote, which led to Roe V Wade etc., be taken away. It appears to me that overall women’s rights are slipping away and we need to boost each other up. An excellent example shown by Ellen DeGeneres on the BIC Pens For Women.



Fight or Flight? Women in the Workplace.

A blog from our founder, Robbie Hardy.

As women become more successful and find themselves in the boardroom, it is often uncomfortable because these boys are not quite sure what to do with invasion of the female species. They seem to want to open the door, pull out our chair, turn their backs and have urinal meetings. They have no idea how to deal with women at the executive level. Lets be honest, it has been almost forever when it was just the boys, their bourbon/scotch, cigars, martinis and late-night bonding at the strip club. So how do we change this?


There was an article in Huffington Post last year about a woman who was on the board of a public traded company who faced an unacceptable level of unconscious gender bias. This woman quit her job as a director at that public company and now she is telling her story.

“The board assumed they knew how I would have voted based on a biased assumption that I’d vote to keep my ‘friend,’ …..Because that’s what girls do, right? They make emotional decisions about friends instead of strategic decisions based on business facts. Girls can’t keep a secret. Girls are too emotional. Girls can’t make tough calls. And, thank goodness, girls won’t speak out when we marginalize them… Had there been other women on the board, the decision to silence me would have been different…. The more diversity, the more likely someone will speak up.”

My reaction is why quit? Why not stay and fight the prejudice? Easy for me to say, but seriously how do we change the game if we don’t stay around and fight? It’s not easy and the life-is- too-short saying comes to mind very quickly… “Who needs this crap? Life is hard enough without having to play this stupid, ‘I am woman hear me roar’ game.”

Harvard Business Review says that once there are at least three women in a group, they "tend to be regarded by other board members not as 'female directors' but simply as directors. The women no longer report being isolated or ignored." So how can we get to three if the first one quits?

  Source: Huffington Post

Source: Huffington Post

I don’t think we can quit, I think we have to find a way to make these boys work well with their fellow board members, whether male or female. Let’s face it there are a lot of politics on corporate boards, so it’s not easy to be the odd-man or odd-women BUT if we are going to break this barrier, we need to stay and work to solutions.

I think situations like these require agility. Let’s look at all the options where this woman could become an integral part of the board of directors.

1. Directors are voted on by the shareholders... it is usually a slate so its not like the shareholders chose this woman, but they did put her in place to do the job of director.

2. There is a chairperson for every board. They might be part of the problem but that’s life. A private meeting with the chairman would be the first order of business for me. Calmly reviewing the events and suggesting how to prevent them from occurring in the future.

3. If that does not work, meet with each board member one-on- one in the same manner.

4. If that does not work add, the issue to the board agenda so that there are recorded minutes.

5. If that does not work, meet with the largest shareholders and express your concerns as well as present your solutions.

I think there are many paths to be taken (and none of them fun) to build a bridge that can be used in the future.

Quitting and then publicly telling your story sends the wrong message. If a man were treated as she reports, there would be fireworks and hell to pay. Women don’t need to resort to the same tactics, but they need to leverage their own tactics for the greater good of all women.

What do you think?

Guest Blog: Helping RTP Women Earn Their Worth


I had the privilege and kick-ass fun of doing two start-up software companies with Robbie Hardy in The Research Triangle (NC) at a time when we knew every other entrepreneur and saw them at every Council for Entrepreneurial Development event. We even had many of them over for lunches of sandwiches and chips to get their best advice for any issue that was slowing us down.

Those were amazing start-up times in the Research Triangle (RTP) but nothing close to the vibrant, over-the-top community we have today in Durham, Raleigh and Chapel Hill, NC. We are truly rocking the start-up thing here and I am especially pleased that many of our start-up founders are women. Smart, passionate and “won’t-accept-no” women.

One of the many things I gained from working with Robbie was an understanding that my career progression was made far easier because of the heavy lifting the women of her generation shouldered. They were the first to breakthrough to the executive level. The first to wrestle their ways into seats on the board. The first to lead in the corporate world.

Still, throughout my career I have often been the only woman at the table. For many years when I went to meetings outside the company with male colleagues it was assumed I was the assistant, or possibly the girlfriend.

Here’s the thing: Women in the working world today are still not promoted as often or paid as well as men of the same talent/skill levels.

I watch super talented, accomplished younger women being passed over and working far harder to succeed in their careers. It’s astounding this happens today.

I’m writing this because Robbie Hardy and Ann Miller, another long-time RTP start-up pro, have formed a group based here that will rollout nationally to help younger women earn their worth.

The group is called Lessons Earned and is backed by a group of successful female executives ready and willing to form a powerful and influential mentoring network, create educational forums and advocate for younger women to be as financially successful as their male counterparts.

Whether you can mentor or want to advance in your career, we want to connect with you at the Lessons Earned launch event Oct. 19, 5:30-8 pm at the Frontier in RTP.

At this event HotChalk’s Chief People Officer Nancy Hauge will share her own lessons earned from more than 30 years in executive roles. She’s traveling in from San Jose to address the financial gap directly with, How to Come Out as a Woman at Work...And, Still Get Paid Your Worth.

This event is open to Triangle area women who want to mentor younger women or want to advance in their careers and achieve greater financial success. Register here to join us.

Written by our dear friend, Deb Lovig.