Making Room For Women’s Voices (Literally)

Image result for alison stewartOne of the media organizations that was impacted by #MeToo was WNYC — New York City’s public radio station. Three men were accused of harassment — Jonathan Schwartz, Leonard Lopate and John Hockenberry. Two of them — Lopate and Schwartz — were fired as a result (Hockenberry had left when his contract expired before the incidents were made public).

One result of these changes is more women on the radio. The lineup used to be:

  • 10am Brian Lehrer
  • Noon Leonard Lopate
  • 2pm Teri Gross
  • 3pm John Hockenberry

And now it’s:

  • 10am Brian Lehrer
  • 2pm Teri Gross
  • Noon Alison Stewart
  • 3pm Tanzina Vega and Amy Walter

In terms of hours it’s now 4  hours of women’s voices and 2 hours of a man vs. 1 hour of a woman and 5 hours of men. Also significantly, the one hour of a woman in the past was Teri Gross with a nationally syndicated show broadcast out of WHYY in Philadelphia. I love Fresh Air, but sort of shocking to consider that it was not very long ago that WNYC didn’t have a single female voice represented in it’s weekday line-up.

Parents: Take Your Kids When You Vote

While we are all on the subject of voting, let’s talk instilling the habit of voting in kids.

My parents always took my sister and I with them when they went voting. It made a big impression on me. (And Fred Wilson wrote a great post about taking his son voting.)

I’ve voted in every election I’ve been eligible for since I was 18. When I was in college I used absentee ballots. When I moved to NYC at 26 registering to vote, and figuring out where to do so, was one of the first things I did.

I’m such a dork about voting that I recently showed up at my local polling place (the JHS in our neighborhood) to discover that the day’s primary wasn’t being held in our district because there weren’t any contested races.

It’s a habit I got into because of my parents.

If young people and Democrats voted at the same rates as older people and Republicans we’d live in a very different country. Take your kids to vote!

My 8-year-old is smarter than I am.

Children’s Place may be the seventh circle of Hell. I’m sure had Dante ever gone he’d have written it into The Inferno.

Going there with either kid is painful. Going with both is … much, much more painful.

Me, to Sam: “How about this shirt?”

Sam: “Does it glow in the dark?”

Me: “Yes.” {Okay, I’m lying. I’m totally lying. It’s a shirt he will wear IN THE DAYTIME. Who cares if it glows it  the dark? He’ll never know the truth.}

Sam: “Where’s the sticker?” {Ah! Outsmarted by an 8-year-old. He knows the glow in the dark clothes have stickers on them. He’s clearly smarter than I am.}

Have Certain Elite Men Leveraged the Women’s Movement to Consolidate Power?

I’m pretty obsessed with how it can be that decades after women have reached and even exceeded parity with men in academia they haven’t come close to parity where it really matters — in the halls of power.

And the thought I find myself having lately is this: Has women gaining parity in  attaining higher education and consequent lack of parity beyond school led to a situation where a smaller number of elite men rule the world? Has power ultimately been concentrated in an even small number of hands?

I think about the famous Warren Buffet quote — “I was so successful because I was only competing with half the population.” Is it possible that today’s Warren Buffets are competing with even fewer people?

Why Aren’t There More Women CEOs?

It’s one of the more depressing stats I’ve come across: The S&P 1500 has more CEOs named John than women CEOs. Across the broader landscape of the C-Suite women make up about 16%. And we are now, in 2018, 30 years since women began to outnumber men in college.

One answer that is often offered is that women just don’t want to be CEOs. And one reason given for this lack of desire is the punishing schedule of a CEO.  This is seen as untenable with motherhood — either because men don’t do their fair share at home or because mothers just aren’t as wiling as fathers to spend so much time way from their families.

That’s a pretty big “or” in the middle of that sentence. But let’s take the second part. Women, mothers, just want to spend more time with their kids than fathers do. (Wow, when you write it like that it kind of makes those CEO dads sound like monsters, right? Hmm. Funny how a quick a little change in the POV of a sentence can totally change the frame.)

Is a CEO job really so all-consuming? This HBR study suggests yes … and also no.  The study, which examined time diaries of 27 large-company CEOs found they worked an average of 62.5 hours per week. That’s not a small amount, to be sure. But it still leaves plenty of time, in a 168-hour week, for sleep and family. In fact the study found the CEOs averaged nearly 7 hours of sleep per night. That leaves them with about 58 hours a week of time spent awake and not working. In one sense there lives are perfectly balanced between work and life. And the diaries show they spend a good portion of that nonwork time with family — about 3 hours per day. They also spend about 45 minutes per day exercising and a little more than 2 hours on leisure activities like reading, TV or hobbies. Yes, they did work on weekends and vacations. How much? About 4 hours on a weekend day, about 80% of the time and about 2.5 hours on 70% of vacation days. Importantly that leaves roughly 12 hours on a weekend and 13 to 14 hours on a vacation day.

Here’s my point: Does everyone want to work this way? No way! Plenty of people would find this absolutely grueling. But there’s no specific reason why women should be uniquely unsuited.

I also think it’s worth reminding ourselves that we don’t question whether or not the CEOs who keep these hours can be good dads. Why do we assume — both of ourselves and of others — that you can’t be a good mom and work this way?

Huitlacoche

I’ve been on the planet for more than 47 years and had never heard of Huitlacoche. Yes, somehow, this past week I heard about it twice. There’s a word in semiotics that explains this phenomenon that I’m too lazy to look up.

The Most Epic Wedding Photo Of All Time

Today is my birthday and my sister posted this photo of the two of us:

Image may contain: 2 people

I feel like it deserves explanation. It was my wedding, obviously. We were young. So, so young. I was 24. Tracy had just turned 22. My dress had a long train that was bustled with what seemed like a bazillion little tiny hooks. This was later in the evening. Tracy had some drinks and was trying to refasten my bustle. My mother was trying to take a picture. She was saying “Tracy, look up. Tracy, look up. Tracy, look up.” She was hoping to get a sweet photo of my sister fastening my bustle and smiling lovingly into the lens of the camera.

Instead, she got this. Which is, I’m pretty certain, the most epic wedding photo in the history of wedding photos. I’m also certain that had Tracy looked up and smiled sweetly *that* photo would have been lost to the dustbin of history.

To this day Tracy has this photo framed in her house.

45 > 25. By a lot more than 20.

Last week Pamela Druckerman had a column titled How to Survive Your 40s. I like Druckerman. In fact, one of my favorite columns was a similar topic titled, What you learn in your 40s. But while the latter column mostly celebrated 40something, the former was much more of a lament.

I’m going to turn 47 next Wednesday. I have absolutely loved this stage of my life. When I turned 43 I remember thinking “This is the age I was born to be. I’ve just been waiting 43 years to get here.”

I’m not immune to bouts of vanity — my hair, which is nearly all gray underneath the dye I used to beat it into submission, is a perpetual torture for me. But I have not loved aspects of my appearance throughout my life, so this isn’t unique about 40s. And on balance I feel like the advantages of 40 far outweigh the disadvantages.

I’m more comfortable in my body than ever before. Yeah, sure, there are things that hurt that never used to. But I’ve never felt more comfortable with my physical being.

I more comfortable with my overall being, too. Self-awareness is never perfect, but I feel like I have a better understanding of who I am, what I’m good at, what I’m not good at, even what I like and what I don’t. And I’m more comfortable with who I really am, as opposed to who I think I’m supposed to be.

For me, 45 is greater than 25 by a factor of far more than 20. As I near 50 I’m not filled with dread. In fact, I’m excited. If 50 is even better — and I have good reason to expect it will be — I feel like I have so much to look forward to.