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Women’s Movement from A Hispanic Woman’s View

Riding the Waves of Feminism

by Dr. Patricia Arroyo

Women's Movement Hispanic Viewpoint Gender Diversity

 

Gloria Steinem, the iconic torch bearer of the women’s movement, will speak in a few days at the Massachusetts Conference for Women. As I reflect upon the women’s movement over the decades, I’m especially drawn to the unsung women of my youth, such as the wisdom and experiences of my mother. She was a “career woman” in a male-dominated industry, banking. Hispanic and a high school graduate no less.

Gloria Steinem was right. In the 1960’s, her name was a bad word in my home. “‘Women’s Lib’ movement, getting on your high horse,” my father snickered. My mother, however, was making her rise in banking. She started off as a bank teller with a high school education at Security Pacific National Bank.  We didn’t come from a family of higher education, nor did any of the Mexican-American families in our small southern California town. My grandparents on both sides immigrated from Mexico around 1918. One grandfather worked the orange groves, and the other worked at the railroad. My grandmothers stayed home with their sprawling families.

In the early 1960’s, racial integration was on trend during my early grade school years.  We “were bussed” to a distant school until third grade, after which we attended schools that we walked to. Our schools were mixed, roughly half Mexican-American and half-white. A very small percent was African-American. The bigger divider did not seem to be race. We all spoke English, especially those of us having Spanish last names. We all got along, played on the same sports teams, and did the same activities. The bigger divider, however, seemed to be who was “well-off or not well off.” Who had better clothes, or lived in bigger houses in the better parts of town. Who was going to “get out” to have a better life.

My mother rose from a bank teller, to a supervisor, to a branch manager, and finally to lending. Eventually, she retired as an Assistant Vice President at Bank of America after nimbly making it through several rounds of industry re-consolidations.   She was unique among her relatives. They either ran small businesses, had “supplemental income jobs,” or were stay-at-home mothers. My mother was a “career woman.” She and my father, who ran his own business, both worked full-time.

“It’s About Empowerment.”

Equality was the goal of the national women’s movement, however empowerment rang more true within my family and community. Work, education, and upward mobility, it was all about empowerment. Choices. The power to have choices. My mother commented, “we already know we’re equal, who has time to march in DC., I have mouths to feed, I have to work.”  Whoever held the money, held the choices and decisions. Sometimes that choice was to leave a bad marriage.  Without that choice, I saw some women confined to miserable and marginalized lives.

It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t work and have a career. Nor did it ever occur to me that I wouldn’t go to college, although no one around me did.  Both seemed natural. Whether by design or default, my parent’s work schedule left their five children as “latch key kids”, which ultimately fostered independence not restriction. They also fostered the belief that I could go out into the world and do whatever I wanted. They didn’t instill limitations, impose stereotyped gender roles, or pressure to remain close to home. “Getting out” was a desired objective.

Below are some of my reflections on the lessons and messages that I gleaned from my mother over the decades, from what I now understand to be the Second Wave of Feminism in the 1960’s. The era where inroads were made in the workplace, higher education, family and reproductive rights, and civil rights. Equality during this era hit a flat note with us because we lived an experience that was not just gendered, but it was gendered across race and social class lines. We lived it all at once. It wasn’t until the 1990’s with the advent of the Third Wave when this experience was crystalized into “the intersectionality of oppression” across gender, race and social class. By that time, I was among a half of one percent of Hispanics who earned a Ph.D., and who would became a strident diversity advocate for Hispanic students  during my first job at Dartmouth College. It was also a time when the term Latino/a came to replace Hispanic, given the influx of immigration from Latin America.

Here are a few reflections from my mother that came during the  “Second Wave of feminism.”

~ On the Women’s Movement ~

Feminism was more about empowerment than equality. “We already knew we are equal. I have to provide for my children.”

~ On Career ~

Working was about self-reliance to acquire a better life, and to have power and choices within the family. This choice allowed one to leave a bad marriage.

~ On Racism ~

On the anger others had about discrimination, “Just work harder, 100+%, 200+%. Shouldn’t you be doing that anyway?”

~ On Sexism ~

I just knew I was smarter than the men, and could out strategize them to get things done.”

~ On Being Hindered “By Being a Woman” ~

“You still have to excel at what you do.”

My mother didn’t see obstacles or experience being held back because of “being a woman,” even though she worked predominantly among men especially as she rose the ranks. She had a high confidence in her intelligence, skills, and work ethic.

~ On Mentoring Programs ~

Laughs, “We had none of those. My peers became my friends and allies. We bonded and respected each other based on our skill and work ethic. We helped each other.

My mother’s two closest friends and allies were Irish-American. Brenda, a talent like my mother. Mike, an advocate for talented women in the workplace.

~ On Childcare ~

I paid the next door neighbor teenager 50 cents an hour and half of my next raise.

This stopped at the age when we become latch key kids.

~ On the Women’s Liberation Movement ~

(which really did look like a white women’s movement at the time.)

Who has time to march in D.C.? I have to work, I have five mouths to feed.

~ On Birth Control ~

After five children, I had to go on “the Pill, and quit the Catholic church.”

~ On My First PMS Cramps ~

You think you can stay home a few days every month? You won’t have a career.

~ After Work ~

Yes, my mother still made the meals. However, the five children did the housework. All of it. My father did the yard, fixed the cars, and had t.v. time, until they divorced.

 

About the author, Dr. Arroyo

Being the middle of five children, I graduated with a Ph.D. at a time when half of one percent of Hispanics earned that degree. I assure you that neither my mother nor any of my aunts have a shred of deference or submissiveness in their DNA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EQ Leaders Are In Demand

 EQ Leaders Are In Demand

Even More Success Coaching

will be at the

 MA Conference for Women

on December 6th and 7th, 2017

EQ Leaders are in demand. Did you know that less than 10% of leadership success relies on IQ? Of 6 competencies for new leaders, none are technical skills. In 2016, the the World Economic Forum advised that “overall social skills, EQ will be in higher demand across all industries than technical skills.”

Job candidates who have higher EQ also have better hiring and promotion rates. With rapid advances in technology, improving your EQ Leadership is a “must have” skill to help you be more effective in executive leadership roles.

The first step to improve your EQ is to have it tested.  Now there is a scientifically valid way to measure your 15 EQ skills and get targeted strategies. You can be more effective with your strengths, build up skills, identify blind spots, and fix career detailers.

New research has identified interesting gender differences in EQ. Men and women leaders have overall equal EQ. However, leaders vary in the EQ sub-scale patterns. These differences have key implications for leadership. Learn specific strategies for your personal EQ sub-scale pattern. Understand your specific EQ skills so that you can use them more intentionally and strategically. Success!

 

Even More Success Coaching will be at the 2017 MA Conference for Women.

Come by booth #974 to learn how the EQI Leadership report can help give you a competitive advantage.

  

Take advantage of conference promotional pricing,

20% off all services through 12/12/17.

Also, visit my booth and learn how you can win 2 prizes

 * 3 month coaching engagement with Dr. Arroyo.

*  EQ Leader book by Dr. Steven Stein.

 

 

Women’s Leadership Ambition Gap

Women's Leadership Ambition Gap

Women’s Leadership Ambition Gap. Lean or March In?

Women’s Leadership Ambition Gap

Lean or March In?

Sheryl Sandberg perceives a women’s leadership ambition gap and she has a remedy for it. Sandberg is the well known COO of Facebook, and is ranked #10 on Forbes’ list of Most Powerful Women. At age 43, she is a multi-billonaire, a working spouse and mother of two children. In her book, “Lean In”, Sandberg describes a Leadership Ambition Gap to account for why women are sparsely  represented in top leadership positions.

Read More

Women’s Work Clothes, A Helter-Skelter World

WOMEN’S WORK CLOTHES,

A HELTER-SKELTER WORLD

 

 

Women's Work Clothes

When it comes to women’s work clothes Oprah had a shot at making it right. Sadly, she did not. Oprah recently teamed up with Talbot’s to design a line of women’s work clothes  done in collaboration with Dress for Success. “It’s about time!,” I rejoiced. Soon however, I was dismayed to find that the clothing  line was more suited for a garden party than a corporate setting: floral skirts, polka dot sweaters, and strappy sandals. The lead designer? A man. Oprah, yes even you can do better.

I recently searched for women’s work clothes at leading retailers: Nordstrom, Brooks Brothers, Ann & Taylor, Lord & Taylor, and Neiman Marcus. The selections in specific workday clothes were one of two extremes: Hum-drum styling and drabby neutrals, or something that could easily be worn at a weekend social party. In other words, party girl wear. One top retailer even had blouses with shoulder sleeved cut-outs in the 9-5 workday attire section! What a startling, if not unsettling, retail phenomenon given that women make 85% of buying decisions.

Whether this helter-skelter world of women’s work clothes reflects the last vestiges of “dress like a man” for success, a psychedelic stance in women’s relationship with power, or a society that just doesn’t know what to do with the cross sections of femininity and business acumen, how do we reconstruct our views of women’s work clothes?

What To Wear, What To Wear?

When women entered the workplace in the 60’s, there was the dress-like-a-man stratagem. We saw women’s work clothes try to clone after men’s business suits. The styling was rather nondescript and chocked with plain neutrals, a boring style that survives today. To answer the void, the Wrap dress hit the scene, made popular by Diane Von Furstenberg. Deemed a bit too sexy outré at it’s debut, today the Wrap dress is rather mainstream. With the advent of micro speed technology and a brainier attitude towards dressing–the less I have to think about what to wear, the more brain power I have for business solutions–we see the monochrome wardrobe, seen by Steve Jobs CEO of Apple, Elizabeth Holmes, CEO of Theranos for the Millennials, and Angelina Jolie for the third-world humanitarians. Candidly aside, the classic movies really nailed the women’s suit with a spot on blend of authority, presence, and femininity.

Women Executives in Male-Dominated Industries

These unique women executives face many challenges to succeed amongst male peers.  Finding just that right blend of executive presence that matches the company culture can be a quest. Executive presence is a melange of many factors, and work clothes that exudes credibility and distinctiveness is one. When it comes to work clothes, one theme I hear from women executives  is the confusion of what makes for executive attire and, secondly, the lack of good choices  in retail stores.  Mixed with the latter is the time crunch to shop around for “something that fits.”

Women, do you find that retailers are spot on or dead wrong in the selection of work clothes?

What do you want to see in your work wardrobe that designers just don’t get?

Comment below and let’s hear it.