This past week was a great week for women in Chicago and in America.
And yes, progress takes time, and there are a lot of feminists and activists who help to advance women in the workplace every day. These women and men create better self-esteem in women by doing things like challenge women’s beauty standards. They create opportunities for women when they didn’t know there were obstacles.
There’s something about this past week that made me want to stand up and give women in Chicago and in the world a round of applause. And so, I want to share with you the highlights of women’s progression last week.
We Can Stop Talking About Women’s Bodies:
Okay. I guess we will always talk about women’s bodies because they are so different. And that’s it. We finally recognized through the gatekeeper of beauty standards herself, Barbie, that women’s bodies are different. And not one of the templates for a women’s figure is pure perfection.
Women’s bodies are always going to be a sensitive topic. In the cover story for Time, an exec for Mattel, the brand that makes Barbie dolls, divulged, “It even took months to decide on the terms tall, petite, and curvy, and figure out how to translate those terms into different languages without offending people.”
I think that women, Millennial moms, who Mattel is now targeting, are concerned about promoting positive body images. It’s true that as you get older, you care more about your health than your beauty. But, I think that we are owning are beauty and our health by giving women and our future kids more realistic role models. Dove did it. Now, Barbie’s joining in.
The new Barbie dolls are on sale online only at Barbie.com, but will be on shelves this spring.
1871 Celebrates Women in Technology with WiSTEM:
1871 has always been a spot for developing new ideas that build community. Lately, they have spotlighted women. In fact, 1871 made this statement on its website:
“For a whole host of reasons, 1871 believes Chicago is the best place in the country for women entrepreneurs to start a business.”
Their first step was bringing in Nicole Yeary from Ms. Tech, a global women’s networking group that helps business women do tech and tech women do business.
More recently, they introduced a new, first of its kind program, WiSTEM, which fosters opportunities for women in technology entrepreneurs by giving them access to capital, technology, and community.
The WiSTEM program includes 13 women founders who will facilitate a 12-week program that includes weekly educational courses and access to female and male mentors and investors, said 1871 COO Tom Alexander, The Chicago Tribune reported.
The program is part of Google for Entrepreneurs’ #40Forward initiative, and is also supported by the Lefkofsky Family Foundation, Motorola Mobility Foundation, and AT&T.
WiSTEM had its first event, the WiSTEM showcase on January 25, 2016, which included female founders of the following startups:
- mRelief simplifies the qualifying process for social programs by quickly showing people if they are eligible or not, and recently unveiled a text messaging feature that makes the food stamp screening process even easier.
- Pay Your Selfie brings brands and consumers together using selfies. It creates a performance-based mobile marketing platform for advertisers, and it pays users cash for selfies, turning their social currency into real currency.
- iTravel Benefits is a shared, elective benefit that rewards employees who save for personal travel by providing a company match.
- PartySlate is a digital platform designed for party hosts and event professionals.
Spring courses for WiSTEM are currently closed for the 17-week program from March 7, 2016 – June 30, 2016. For more information about mentoring or applying for future WiSTEM programs, visit the 1871 WiSTEM website.
Women Gave Themselves Credit:
My last piece of news comes from Chicago’s very own success story, Ms. Shonda Rhimes, the mastermind behind ABC’s TV series, Scandal. In her acceptance speech for the Producers Guild’s Norman Lear Award for Achievement in Television on January 23, 2016, Rhimes said something bold, something dare I say, no one says when they accept an award. And I completely love her for it.
“I’m going to be totally honest with you, I completely deserve this. I have against the odds, courageously pioneered the art of writing for people of color as if they were human beings. I’ve bravely gone around just casting parts for actors who were the best ones. I fearlessly faced down ABC when they completely agreed with me that Olivia Pope should be black. And I raised my sword heroically and then put it down again when Paul Lee never fought me about any of my storytelling choices.”
Rhimes is known for pushing the limits and for putting hard issues in America before our eyes, pressing us to think about them and not cover them up. And, by no means does she not have fears. She just spoke on Ellen DeGeneres about how in 2015, she decided to face her fears. She’s one of my role models (sorry Barbie) because she is human, she does have fears and flaws and she can’t fix everything like Olivia Pope, but she’s not afraid of helping us talk about things like:
- Do I want Olivia Pope to sleep with the President of the United States?
- Do I think it’s okay that Ms. Pope had an abortion without telling the father?
- Do I think police officers are racist?
Rhimes does life differently and makes her viewers think of life differently. I don’t agree with everything she does, but I am proud that she brings women’s issues and moral issues and race issues to us like presents we cannot wait to open instead of problems we don’t know how to solve. To be honest, I think she deserved the award, too, and it makes me happier to know that she knows it as well.