Mad Women

Is there a market for novels about women at work?

I searched on Amazon and found lots of “how to” books, guidelines, formulas for success, even a book about how men should mentor women. Studies of barriers, histories, and even “Women at Work in 21st Century European Theater” were there but not much to match the stories in Mad Men (which of course could have been called Mad Women)!

Then I came across a list of eight fiction works about women and work, some of which I had read – The Circle and The Devil Wears Prada, for example.  Are there other adventure stories of women at work?  I refuse to believe there not much interest in them, after all lots of women live those stories every day.

If you know about good work stories, let me know.  I have this blog to write about them and my new website:

http://www.AnEqualOpportunity.com

I’ve never written fiction, but might try someday.

 

The Chaos of This Spring

Nature can appear chaotic as plants reach for the sunlight in spring, especially in the woods here in Gretna!

Last Sunday Pastor Greg Laszakovits talked about how we can make something out of the chaos we live in these days.  First, live in the “now,” which I take to mean be aware of what is.  Next, be patient and persistent, patient with ourselves and others and persistent  in our tasks, recognizing that life takes more emotional energy now.  I certainly agree with that!

Then, we need to “flip the script” and see this time as an opportunity to ask the big questions and find ways to bring about the changes we wish to see.

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UPDATES:

  1. If you are in Pennsylvania, be sure to vote in the Primary Election on June 2. If you want to vote by mail, go to votespa.com by May 26th.
  2. The June 10th Virtual Book Launch has been postponed.

Contemplating What It Means To Be Isolated

Do you find yourself isolated in an ever smaller space now?

I’ve always leapt to take on new adventures – leaving the corporate world at 48 and buying a farm, grasping the leadership of county planning, running for congress in 2004, signing up on a whim for a 110-day world cruise. Now the restrictions and fears of this pandemic world wall me in. On-line opportunities to be a part of the virtual world remind us where we cannot be. Some organizations, like my church, do develop creative ways to keep us together, thank goodness.

Our lives have mostly been in the world with others.  I thoroughly enjoyed people, whether that was in the phone company, or people I met in the farming community, or those in or trying to get into government and people I met while campaigning.  Seeing people on zoom isn’t quite the same

I wrote books,  but even that wasn’t a lonely work – it required solitude but it involved lots of people –  resources, publishers, etc.  Even the people of my family archives surrounded me for a few years, but they and their letters, journals, and old photographs have gone to rest at the Historical Society of Dauphin County where others can enjoy them.

Mount Gretna is a Chautauqua Community that thrives on art, music, theater, and programs that draw us together normally.  But the pandemic effectively closed Gretna this year.  Even our post office, which used to be a gathering place is now a sterile environment admitting a few masked and gloved of us at a time.  Our world has changed, and we don’t know for how long.  In fact, I’m sure life will never return to what it was.

Whether the future is better or worse isn’t really the question.  What we struggle with is the NOW.  Life in our boxes is uncertain as well as restrained.  For many who must go out of their safe zones to work essential and sometimes dangerous jobs, today is a living nightmare.  To those who are in a box with others there are problems to deal with, especially where children and the elderly are involved.  I suspect that women bear the brunt of the enforced closeness.

I admit that I am privileged and do not face the hardships most do now.  But my anxiety may be shared by others my age who have been leaders and always been players in the game, trying to make life better for everyone.  Whether by age, resources, or the pandemic, we can no longer “do what we do.” And therein lies great frustration.

AT HOME IN THE WOODS

We live now in parallel universes.  One is the world of the virus – the hospitals, the patients, healthcare workers, first responders, and essential workers. Another is that where people like me hide behind masks and the perimeter of our home.

Normal life is upended for all – excrutiating for those who care for the sick, horrible for their patients, and strangely disturbing to those who wait it out without their jobs, schools, or normal activities.  No wonder people fight back in protests and rallies.

I’m stating the obvious, but keeping this in perspective helps explain my anxiety.  You’d think with all this time on my hands, I’d write another book or at least promote the ones I’ve already written.  Instead I do short term projects, like sorting though old files, cleaning closets, planting flowers.  I nudge my bigger projects along but find it hard to concentrate.  An air of uncertainty surround every day. I lack the inspiration that comes from colleagues and friends.  Zoom just isn’t the same thing.

In this circumstance, I’m doing what I normally do. I planned ahead and set a date for my virtual book launch (June 10th), and trust that I will make it happen.

Having written my way through this thought, it’s clear to me that I must redefine my life and adjust to this new reality.  We are not going back to life as it was, not any time soon, and maybe never.  That isn’t bad or good, it just is.  I am reminded that awareness of what is real is the first step to dealing with it.

Impact of the Pandemic

Been thinking lately about how this pandemic is affecting women.  We hear more men are dying from the coronavirus than women.  Perhaps there’s something about women’s physical bodies that we don’t understand.  Perhaps that’s because research has ignored women.  Maybe if we knew more, it might lead to a better understanding that would help us all.

And what is the long term economic impact of the pandemic on women?

I just listened to a NY Times Live Event, “COVID-19 and the Gender Divide” hosted by Francesca Donner, Gender Editor, NY Times. [I didn’t know they had a “gender editor,” did you?] Guests were Alisha Haridasani Gupta, Gender Reporter and Author, and writer of the NYT newsletter “In Her Words” and Nahla Valji, Senior Gender Adviser, Executive Office of the Secretary-General, United Nations.

Points from the event to ponder:

Crises amplify economic impact.  Factors that create lower economic status for women will in the short term make life more difficult.  The economic downturn will disproportionately have a female face because women are the predominate labor force in services.   With both men and women working from home, there may be a double burden on women, who traditionally carry the unpaid labor of home and care.  As we come out of this crisis, can we rebuild the care economy in a more equitable way?  It may happen structurally if men continue to work at home because their jobs allow it and women, who work predominately in the service industry, need to leave home to go to work.  Interesting.

Does stimulus aid from the government help women?  It could if it were directed to childcare and healthcare.  If schools stay closed while businesses open, women may disproportionately stay home while men go back to work, even if both were in the same business, thus possibly causing the move to equal opportunity to regress.  If women aren’t at the table where decisions are made, some issues will be ignored and women workers disadvantaged.

  Domestic violence and sexual assault. Lockdown measures surely affect women’s ability to get help.  The bigger question is why and how domestic violence and sexual assault is perpetuated. It will take a cultural shift to make a difference

Family planning, contraception, and abortion services should be considered essential. In some places, access to birth control and abortion services have been restricted, either by the tremendous needs for medical attention to the pandemic or by political opportunism.

Does the shock of a pandemic open minds to opportunities for change?  For better childcare?  For protecting black and brown women? For having a living wage for “essential” workers?

Lots to think about.

 

 

SAVE THE DATE – JUNE 10, 2020

On June 10, 1963, Kennedy signed the EQUAL PAY ACT.  And on the anniversary of that important date,  I’m staging a Virtual Book Launch for Women, Power, and AT&T: Winning Rights in the Workplace, 2nd printing. [Found that date in my old 1971 calendar…..].  More details to come on the June 10, 2020 Virtual Book Launch.

Finally back in print, this book covers the landmark EEOC/AT&T adventure that helped establish affirmative action and equal opportunity for women in the largest company in the country. Yes, it’s about a “case,” but it’s more than that – it’s our story of the ups and downs of the years it took to get the old Bell System (AT&T and the Telephone Companies) to adjust to a new reality of women at work. With the Government working FOR women and a national feminist movement (NOW) snapping at the company’s heels, how could we lose?

The fiery battle for equal opportunity still smolders. After we get past the coronavirus crisis and get to work again as a country, the status of women is again going to be an issue.  The work world post-pandemic will be different – let’s make sure it starts off with equal opportunity.  Please comment with your ideas about what that new world will bring for working women.

See http://www.AnEqualOpportunity.com for more about the book.