The Orlando Massacre & Hate in America

On Saturday night in Orlando, Omar Mateen walked into a nightclub where he gunned down 50 people and wounded another 53. The horror Mateen inflicted on innocent civilians is the deadliest mass shooting our country has ever seen.

The media has reported Mateen called 911 shortly before the attack and pledged allegiance to ISIS. But the attack might have also been a hate crime—Mateen’s father reported to the media that his son became angry recently when he saw two men kissing in public. Given that the attack took place at Pulse, a well-known gay nightclub in Orlando, Mateen’s actions were likely in part motivated by hate.

The shooting is a sobering reminder to all of us how far we really are from making America a place where all people can live, work, pray, and love free from discrimination or the threat of violence. After the Supreme Court declared laws that prohibit gay marriage unconstitutional, many of us rightly rejoiced and celebrated how far we have come as a country in securing rights and liberties for LGBTQ people. But since then, we’ve also seen backlash and a rise of intolerance, in states like Mississippi, where there is a law that allows businesses to deny services to same-sex couples for religious reasons, or more recently in North Carolina, where the Governor signed a bill transgender people from using bathrooms that matched their gender identity.

And while the rate of violence against LGBTQ individuals has fallen overall, the risk of violence for the LGBTQ community is still much higher than for the general population. Simply put, it is much dangerous to live in the United States as a gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender person than it is a heterosexual—the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) reports that in 2014 there were 1,459 documented cases of hate violence against LGBTQ and HIV-affected individuals in the United States. And while transgender people have gained more visibility and attention than ever before, violence (including murder) against transgender people has actually increased dramatically. Being LGBTQ and a person of color raises the risk of violence even more—80% of LGBTQ homicide victims in 2014 were people of color.

As Americans, these statistics should shock and alarm us enough to do something about it. We’re talking about the very fundamental right to be able to live in this country without the constant threat of violence because of one’s sexual identity, and as a country we’re simply not there yet. Incendiary politicians like Donald Trump only exacerbate matters by tapping into the worst parts of American psyche, where intolerance and hate breed. Donald Trump’s candidacy has made it clear that homophobia, racism, and sexism are still alive and well in our country. That’s not to say Trump himself has made people sexist, racist, or homophobia—those attitudes have always existed within the American public—but Trump has energized these groups by igniting their hate and making the use of bigoted speech more normalized, if not more acceptable.

People like Omar Mateen, who represent the lowest forms of humanity, will always exist, and unfortunately this most recent shooting will not be the last our country has seen. But our response has to be a lot more than saying prayers for the victims and their families. Yes, the LGBTQ community needs time to heal, and we all should express our deepest sympathies for this tragic loss of life. But after that, we need to fight back. As a country, we need to emphatically reject political leaders like Donald Trump who only ignite and perpetuate the most vile, hateful parts of this country. We need to send a strong message that we’re not going back to the days where hating people who are not like us and using legislation to deny them basic rights and freedoms is in any way acceptable, or tolerable in America. And finally, we need to combat hate with love, and embrace marginalized communities as strong, committed allies who will not only stand by, but stand up for all people in the name of equality, liberty, and justice.

4 Ways For Women To Get Ahead In The Business World

This article was originally posted on Changeboard, 6/1/16.

The advice I give in this article is not meant to replace or ignore the largescale institutional and cultural changes that need to be made for more women to advance in the business world. As I have written elsewhere, policy changes that would ensure equal pay for women, provide paid family leave, and allow parents to work and take of their children at the same time are all essential to women’s advancement in the workforce. Culturally, we need to eradicate the unfair standards and expectations we hold women to but not men.

But those of us already in the workforce need practical strategies to navigate business environments that are often unfavorable to women and hold them back from moving to the top. Until the large-scale work of reforming institutions and cultures is done, here are 4 things women can do to break down barriers and get ahead in their careers:

1. Negotiate your salary

All else equal, on average employers pay women less than men. Over the course of a woman’s life, unequal pay costs her around $400,000. Until our laws are able to remedy this gross inequality, women need to negotiate their pay with their employers.

I remember being very intimidated the first time I negotiated my salary. But I had done my research and knew what I was being offered was lower than market standards and under-valued my worth as an employee. I wrote out “bullet points” for what I was going to say during the negotiating process and even practiced them beforehand.

Striking a balance between appearing confident and grateful is the key to a successful negotiation, and also points to why negotiating is so hard for women in the first place. Many women are taught—and expected by others—to be people pleasers who don’t rock the boat and accept what they are given. Asking for more money defies these expectations, which is why it’s difficult to do.

Begin the discussion by telling your employer how pleased and excited you are about the opportunity to work for the company. Then show them that you did your research about market pay and other tidbits that you can find on Google or by asking others in the industry. Finally, ask for a number that is slightly higher than what you really want—while some employers will give you what you ask for, others will continue the negotiating process and offer you less than what you ask for. Raising the number you ask for helps offset that possibility.

2. Ask for a raise
Unless you work for an organisation or company that regularly provides raises to its employees, you are probably going to have to ask for a raise. Too many women (and some men) believe that if they work hard, their good performance will get recognised with more money. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.

A recent study found that a majority of men have asked for a raise while less than half of women have. If you’ve been producing excellent work and believe you deserve a raise, go ahead and ask for it — research shows that you will probably get it.

I’ve done this a lot throughout my career, and as with salary negotiations, it helps to prepare ahead of time and record your accomplishments and reasons for asking for a raise. The time you’ve spent in a certain position or role often matters less than what you have done for the company during that period, so play up your achievements as well as the additional responsibilities you want to take on in the future.

3. Take credit for your work
One great thing about having more women in the workplace is that they tend to be collaborators and team players. Unfortunately, this work style can work against you when men are more likely to be competitive and take credit for the work that you’ve done. Studies have shown that on team or group projects, women tend to give more credit to their male colleagues and take less for themselves. This hurts women if their overall contribution to their company or organisation is not recognised.

I see this dynamic play out with my male colleagues all the time. In staff meetings, I always say “we” when I’m talking about a project I’m working on with other people, even if I’m the lead on it: “We are working on the presentation,” “We believe we should move in this direction,” etc. In contrast, many of the men I’ve worked with will talk in the first-person about projects: “I am working on the presentation,” “I believe we should move in this direction,” and this is true even when they are not the project leads. So while women downplay their contributions, men play theirs up.

Women should not assume that their boss knows who “really” does the work—he or she doesn’t. Talking casually but directly with your boss or supervisor about your recent role or contribution to a project helps make your case. I will often say something to my boss that emphasises my leadership on a project and compliments my colleagues—because they deserve credit too. Something like “I really loved taking the lead on this project and introducing this new framework in our reports, and I think Jill and John really grew a lot from this engagement as well,” tends to work well.

4. Connect with other women
I’ve seen women get very competitive and sometimes try to undermine each other in the race to the top. Don’t do that—women need to support each other and lift each other up in the workplace. While some level of competition is healthy, putting others down to get ahead yourself is not a viable strategy, and I’ve often seen this backfire on both women and men.

What does work is forming professional relationships with other women—with those above and below you. Seek out a more senior woman at your company or in your industry as a source of support and advice in your career. It’s also important to give back and mentor younger or less experienced women to help them navigate the business world as women. This is how you build a network which will come in handy throughout your career—for leads on new business, job prospects, or just for having the support and encouragement from people who get it.

Trump and the Normalization of Hate

I recently published an article in the Huffington Post about the role Donald Trump has played in making hate, bigotry, and discrimination more acceptable in political discourse.

I was inspired to write this post after a couple of events: 1) As I detail in the article, someone I work with and am close to was recently the victim of gay bashing after he went on a popular TV show to talk about his support of Hillary Clinton; 2) I spent a recent weekend with two women who are very good friends of mine and who just got engaged. We celebrated their engagement at Gay Pride in Long Beach, CA (see pic below).

Both events took place in the same period of time- the gay bashing of my co-worker occurred just a day before I flew down to Long Beach to celebrate the engagement and partake in Gay Pride. I was struck by the irony: although we have come so far in some ways toward respect for the human dignity of all people, in other ways we are light years from where we should be. It is so important that we work against candidates and politicians like Trump who feed on anger and frustration and encourage acts of hate and discrimination.

Read the article here.

Me celebrating at Gay Pride Long Beach!
Me celebrating at Gay Pride Long Beach!

I Wrote A Book!

I am so excited to announce the publication of 52 Reasons To Vote For Hillary, a book I co-authored with Bernard Whitman, my colleague at Whitman Insight Strategies. The book will hit stores early July, but you can pre-order your copy now via Amazon.

It’s no secret that I am an active Democrat and long-time supporter of Hillary, and Bernard is too. We wrote this book not only in support of Hillary’s candidacy, but because we both felt there was a need to set the record straight and give voters the facts about who Hillary is—both as a public servant and as a person. After Hillary announced her candidacy, Bernard and I were struck by the media narrative that framed Hillary as an elusive enigma, someone that has occupied the political spotlight for decades, yet is in many ways “unknown.” We know from our experience working on campaigns as strategists that voters need to be able to relate to a candidate and feel that the candidate is in touch with voters’ concerns in order for the candidate to be successful. That is why we decided to write this book—to re-introduce Hillary to voters and show the many sides of Hillary, not only as a politician, but as a daughter, wife, mother, and now, grandmother.

We’re also concerned about the rise of extremists in the Republican Party and know that a Donald Trump presidency would be disastrous for this country. We wrote this book also to contrast Hillary’s vision for America with that of the Republicans, and argue that while Hillary wants to build the America of tomorrow, Trump and the Republicans want to bring our country backwards to the past. Like Hillary, we believe that America has always been great, but that the task of the next president of the United States is to make America whole. Trump’s divisive, hateful rhetoric will only fragment us further. What we need now is a leader who can bring people together and get things done for American families. We believe that leader, resoundingly, is Hillary.

I will be posting more news and tidbits from the book as we get closer to the official release date in early July. Don’t forget to subscribe to this blog (just scroll down to the bottom of this page and enter in your e-mail) so you’ll never miss an update about the book or anything I write about here!

Thanks for reading,

Cover shot for marketing

Women Are Working More Than Ever – Inside The Home And Out

More than 73 million women participate in the U.S. workforce, making up more than half of the country’s working population. Women are increasingly their family’s breadwinner—more than 40% of working mothers are the sole or primary income earner in their household, a number that reflects both the rise in single motherhood as well as the fact that some women are out-earning their partners, despite the pay gap.

And gone are the days when control of the family’s finances fell primarily to men. As more women enter the workforce and bring home the family’s income, they are also taking on more responsibilities related to financial management—responsibilities that historically were considered in the “male” realm. Data from a national survey of American adults* conducted by my firm, Whitman Insight Strategies, indicates that women are just as likely as men to be responsible for a variety of financial responsibilities, including:

• Making monthly payments for utilities, phone, etc. (78% of men, 83% of women)
• Paying credit card bills (74% of men, 81% of women)
• General financial planning/budgeting (68% of men, 65% of women)
• Making mortgage or rent payments (59% of men, 59% of women)

The sample in this study included only women and men in “partnered” households, meaning people who are married, in a domestic partnership, or living with a significant other. We might infer from this data that men and women have achieved some sort of equality in their relationships, in that they are equally responsible for financial management in their households.

But while women and men may have achieved parity when it comes to financial obligations, with other household tasks, women shoulder much more responsibility than men. Women are much more likely than men to be responsible for buying groceries, cooking and preparing meals, household cleaning, and planning social activities:

• Buying groceries: (65% of men, 90% of women)
• Cooking/preparing meals: (48% of men, 85% of women)
• Household cleaning (48% of men, 88% of women)
• Planning social activities (26% of men, 57% of women)

Women are also performing more of the caregiving work—55% of partnered women say they are responsible for caring for loved ones, including children and elderly relatives, while only 39% of partnered men say the same.

But perhaps younger generations are creating more egalitarian households where women and men share in domestic labor? Wrong. Gender roles are remarkably similar across generations. The data from this survey shows that women of every generation—from Millennials to Baby Boomers—are much more likely than men to be responsible for the cooking, cleaning, social calendar keeping, and caregiving.

Responsibilities chart

To be sure, with some domestic tasks, younger men are doing more work than men of older generations do—62% of Millennial men say they’re responsible for household cleaning compared to 48% of Generation X and Baby Boomer men. But unfortunately, men taking on more responsibility does not help women very much—85% of Millennial women, 89% of Generation X women, and 90% of Baby Boomer women say they’re responsible for cleaning the house as well.

On other domestic tasks, including cooking, grocery shopping, and keeping the social calendar, there is virtually no difference across generations—women are about 30-40 points more likely to take on these responsibilities compared to men. It is among Generation X (ages 35-54) where we see the starkest gender differences in caring for loved ones—65% of women claim this responsibility, compared to just under half of Generation X men. Members of Generation X do more caregiving overall, perhaps not only for their own children, but to elderly parents or relatives as well.

So while women are taking on more responsibilities in the paid workforce, greater financial power does not translate to greater power or equality in the domestic sphere. And even though women are playing a bigger role in the management of their family’s money, these additional responsibilities are on top of the other household tasks for which women are also responsible. Rather than sharing household responsibilities with their partners, women are simply shouldering more obligations.

We cannot assume that these disparities will disappear in time, once younger, more egalitarian generations replace older Americans who are more rigid in their gender ideologies. The data from this survey give credence to the idea that gender roles are durable, and it will take more than time to change deeply held beliefs about what men and women should do with their time.

* Whitman Insight Strategies conducted an online survey among 1,347 American adults who indicated they were married, in a domestic partnership, or living together with a significant other. The survey fielded in March 2016. Please contact for more information about the study. You can see other work here.

On Top In The Kitchen: Healthy Turkey Chili Recipe

I love cooking this Turkey Chili recipe on Sundays, when I have time to cook it slowly, so all the flavors can meld together into deliciousness, and so I have leftovers all week long! But this recipe can be made quickly (in an hour) if needed, which also makes it a good candidate for weeknights too. I also love this recipe because it’s healthy: packed with protein (from the turkey and beans) and nutrition from the veggies, and it’s low in fat.

Healthy Turkey Chili Recipe


1 pound lean ground turkey
2 cans dark kidney beans
1 large can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes
1 can whole kernel corn
1 red pepper
1 1/4 cups chicken broth
1 yellow onion
4 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon salt (can use garlic salt for an extra kick)
4 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Olive oil
Optional for garnishing: Scallions, Avocado, Fresh Tomatoes, Cheese


I like to prep first and have all the ingredients ready to be cooked. So I start out by dicing the onion and chopping the garlic and red pepper. I also drain and rinse the corn and kidney beans so they are ready to go when it’s time to throw them into the pot. Finally, I measure out the chicken broth and have all my spices out.

Start out by heating some olive oil (1-2 tablespoons) in a big pot (medium-high heat). Then throw in the diced onion and chopped garlic and red pepper. Let them simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.


Next, put in the ground turkey and break it up with a fork or spatula. Let it cook until the turkey is no longer pink.

Now it’s time to add the spices. I put in 4 tablespoons chili powder, 2 teaspoons cumin, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, which makes for a pretty spicy chili! If you prefer something more mild, try half the chili powder and nix the red pepper flakes–that’s just my way of making this dish extra spicy!


Stir the spices in for about 30 seconds. Next, add in the kidney beans, corn, chicken broth, and tomatoes. Let it all come to a boil and then turn down the heat to a simmer.


Let the chili cook for about 45 minutes, or longer if you have time. I like to cook mine for about 90 minutes so it’s nice and thick, but if you prefer a more soup-like chili, turn off the heat sooner.

I like to add a little low-fat cheddar cheese and a few slices of avocado to the top.


And there it is! This recipe will make about 6 servings, and the chili tastes even better the next day. I’ve served this recipe with cornbread before, but honestly it’s so filling that you won’t even need it.

Brittany enjoying her Healthy Turkey Chili recipe at home.
Brittany enjoying her Healthy Turkey Chili recipe at home.

5 Ways I Made My Wedding Feminist

Like many feminists, I have always regarded the institution of marriage with some skepticism. While at one point in my life I thought I would never get married, I changed my mind when I met my husband, Chuck. Being with him made me feel like I wanted to experience everything life had to offer—including marriage and whatever that entailed. I wanted to celebrate our love and our life together with the people we care about the most and honor our commitment to each other.

But marriage will always be a tradition borne out of the patriarchy. So there I was on our wedding day, a feminist dressed in ivory, clutching my father’s arm while he walked me down the aisle. Making a wedding “feminist” is a tough task—nearly impossible, and I found myself having to make concessions along the way. For example, while I originally wanted to walk down the aisle alone, in a nod to my independence, giving my dad his moment and avoiding hurting his feelings was much more important to me.

Luckily, I still found some ways to incorporate feminist values into my wedding that made me feel comfortable. This is not meant to define for anyone else what a feminist wedding is, and I do not claim that the way I did things is the “correct” way to have a feminist wedding. In fact, fundamentally I think what ultimately makes a wedding feminist is when the bride and her partner have the freedom to create the type of wedding celebration that feels right for them.

1. We picked a progressive officiant
We had a woman Justice of the Peace conduct our ceremony who was on board with the type of wedding we wanted to have and was willing to work with us to create a ceremony that reflected our philosophies. I met with her before the wedding and told her how important feminism is to me and gave her some suggestions of language I wanted her to incorporate in her remarks, like a reading from bell Hooks’ book, All About Love. She also let me veto several of the traditional customs in wedding ceremonies—like when the officiant thanks the father of the bride for “giving” her away—a notion that implies the woman is a piece of property being transferred from one man to the next. Our officiant understood what we wanted and didn’t want and became our partner in creating a customized ceremony.

2. We incorporated feminist readings into the ceremony
My husband I are not religious at all, so biblical readings were not an option for us. However, we both love literature, so I began looking at some feminist writers for inspiration. I ultimately settled on a poem by Maya Angelou and an excerpt from the Supreme Court decision that legalized gay marriage. Both readings emphasized values I believe are crucial to a successful marriage—equality, fairness, and respect.

3. We wrote our own vows
Writing our own promises to each other was important to us. Being able to stand up in front of our families and friends and read the vows we wrote for each other felt empowering. I felt a sense of agency that I think would have been lost had we used more traditional, generic vows. They were words that came from our own hearts and were written exclusively for us.

4. I vetoed the veil
When I first got engaged, I imagined I would wear a non-white, colorful dress—maybe even black! The idea of wearing virginal white bothered me. But finding a non-white dress was a lot harder than I thought, as they are still rare. I ultimately decided on an ivory dress, which felt like a compromise. But throughout the process, I knew I did not want a veil, even though my friends kept insisting I try one. The lifting of the veil is another symbol of property transfer—once the groom removes it, he takes “possession” of his bride. I felt good in my ivory gown and veil-less head, and I’m glad that I didn’t let anyone pressure me into wearing one.

5. I kept my last name
I’ve built a pretty solid career in my 30 years of life, and I also have a PhD, so my title of “Dr.” will always trump “Mrs.” My last name represents me and where I come from, and I didn’t want to change it. And what I really didn’t want was to be introduced, for the first time, as Mr. and Mrs. Charles Fritch, as though marriage erases my entire identity and subsumes it under my husband’s. So I had the DJ just announce as the newlyweds, Brittany and Chuck, and have proudly kept my last name in tact (no hyphen). While I respect and support the women in my life who have taken their husband’s last name, keeping that tradition is not for me. We have decided that when we have kids, their names will be hyphenated to include both of our last names, a move that feels right for us.

Infusing our wedding with feminist values made the day even more special, because doing so reflected who we are as people and what we aspire to. Ultimately, however, what makes a marriage feminist is not your wedding itself, but a relationship built on equality that you have to build and create every day.


On Top In The Kitchen: Chicken Cacciatore Recipe

Women want to be on top not only at work, but at home too (and not just in the bedroom!). Read on for an easy and healthy recipe that you can make at home when you want to show your partner, family, roommates, or your cat that you can slay in the kitchen too.

This recipe is a modified version of my mother’s Chicken Cacciatore recipe. She cooks it the old-school Italian way which involves a lot of tomatoes, a lot of potatoes, and crusty Italian bread. While her version is equally delicious, my recipe includes more vegetables and some additional spices that I think gives it more of a kick than traditional Chicken Cacciatore.

This recipe serves 4. Even though it’s just me and Chuck at home, I like making extra so we have leftovers for lunch or that we can freeze for a quick meal when we’re in a rush.

Chicken Cacciatore

Prep Time: 15 min, Cook Time: 1 hour, Servings: 4

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 large yellow onion, sliced
1 red bell peppers, cored and sliced
2 green bell peppers, cored and sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 pound white mushrooms, sliced
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 cup dry white wine
1 can diced tomatoes (I like Hunt’s)
Garlic salt and black pepper, to taste
Optional: Red pepper flakes, to taste (I always include a lot of red pepper in my recipes because Chuck loves spicy food, but eliminate this if you don’t)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Begin by sprinkling some salt and pepper on both sides of the chicken pieces. Next, lightly flour the chicken. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat.

Turn your stove up to medium-high heat, and brown both sides of the chicken (about 2 minutes per side) then put chicken on a plate. Pour off half the grease in the pan.

Add sliced onions and peppers (don’t slice too thin, the slices should be on the thick side), and the garlic to the skillet and stir for a minute or so.

Add mushrooms and stir for 1 minute. Add the turmeric, garlic salt, and black pepper (and the red pepper if you’re using it). Stir, then pour in wine, allowing it to bubble.

Pour in canned tomatoes and stir to combine. Transfer chicken and everything else into a baking dish, cover with foil, and cook in the oven.

After 45 minutes, remove the foil and crank the heat up to 375. Cook for an additional 15 minutes.

At this point, you can serve as is (after the chicken cools a bit) or you can take out the chicken and veggies and put the sauce back on the stove to thicken it a bit. Add a pinch of cornstarch to speed up the process.

I usually sauté some garlic and kale for a side dish and serve the chicken over a little pasta or with some bread.


Chuck and I enjoying my Chicken Cacciatore recipe at my parent's home in Connecticut.
Chuck and I enjoying my Chicken Cacciatore recipe at my parent’s home in Connecticut.

Why Hillary Clinton Is Not Enough To Increase Women’s Representation

For those who care about women’s representation in elected office, Hillary Clinton’s candidacy is a big deal. Our country has never been this close to electing a woman president, and the odds that she will triumph over Donald Trump or Ted Cruz are high.

Electing a woman president is truly a game-changer. As I have written elsewhere, one of the most powerful effects of a visible woman head of state is the role model effect it will have on women and girls’ ambitions. Seeing a woman occupy the highest position of power in America will do much to our collective psyche and expectations about gender and leadership.

But although electing a woman president would have resounding effects on women’s ambitions, it is not enough to fix the problem of women’s under-representation in elected office. The rate of women’s representation has stagnated at every level of public office; we will not simply see more women elected to public office “in time,” or at least, not in our lifetimes, without changing the political systems and structures themselves.

The impact of gender stereotypes, media bias, childcare responsibilities, and other obstacles women candidates face notwithstanding, on average, when women run for office, they win. That is—once they knock down the barriers that keep women from running in the first place, they tend to be just as successful as men. The real problem is that our current political institutions do not create enough opportunities for women to run, win, and serve.

New people tend to get elected when there is an open seat—when the elected officeholder retires or steps down, leaving the seat “open” to contest. Otherwise, the incumbency advantage is often insurmountable for a challenger, unless the incumbent is vulnerable for some reason. In congressional elections, the re-election rate for incumbents is about 95%. As volatile as the political world may seem, members of Congress enjoy a great deal of job security. And because the vast majority of incumbents are men, the effect of this advantage is that the status quo gets perpetuated over and over—with the same men winning their elections, and fewer women being able to break into the political world.

Simply put, in our current political system there are very few opportunities for women to run for office and be successful. Studies of women’s representation in other countries have shown that different electoral systems—like proportional representation—are much more favorable to the election of women. That is why of the top 20 countries for women’s representation, 19 of them have election systems based on proportional representation. Ranked Choice Voting, an elections system that is often used in conjunction with multi-member districts and allows voters to pick first, second, and third choice candidates, also helps women and people of color win seats in office. In California’s Bay Area, women and people of color hold 47 of the 52 elected offices filled using RCV.

In elections for the U.S. Congress, candidates run in single-member, winner-take-all districts, meaning only the winner—the candidate who gets the most votes—gets elected. But some state legislatures have multi-member districts, which means more than one candidate gets elected to serve a district. In many districts, one party dominates elections over and over, which leaves voters belonging to the opposing party completely unrepresented. In multi-member districts, members get elected according to their party’s vote share—for example, if one district has four seats, and 50% of the vote is for the Democrats and 50% for Republicans, two Democrats get elected and two Republicans get seats too. This scenario also allows for the emergence of third-party candidates, who actually have a chance of getting elected as well.

Multi-member districts create more opportunities for non-incumbents and non-traditional candidates to run for office and win election. Ten states in America currently use multi-member districts in at least one legislative chamber, and these states rank among the highest for women’s representation among state legislatures. Multi-member districts will also help reduce the advantages incumbents enjoy, and create more spaces for not only women, but people of color and third-party candidates, to get elected.

Hillary Clinton’s candidacy has already done much to inspire legions of women and encourage them to run for office. The path she has forged will certainly make it easier for other women to run and win their elections. But as important as her candidacy is to increasing women’s representation, it is not enough, and those of us committed to advancing women’s leadership need to look ahead to the real changes that need to be made in order to achieve gender parity. We need to begin a serious discussion about institutional reform to create more opportunities for women to run and win seats so that the possibility of parity in our lifetimes can be realized.

Young girl writes letter to Clinton: "You inspire me to be who I want to be."
Young girl writes letter to Clinton: “You inspire me to be who I want to be.”

Equal Pay Is Not Just A Women’s Issue, It’s A Family And Economic Issue Too

Today is Equal Pay Day, a day to spread awareness of the fact that in 2016, women still make 79 cents to a man’s dollar, a yearly gap of $10,762. Over the course of a woman’s lifetime, unequal pay costs her more than $400,000, and that’s only if she is white. For women of color, this gap is even higher. Paying a woman less simply because she’s a woman is unacceptable and it is imperative that as a country, we remedy these embarrassing statistics and recognize that equal pay affects everyone.

I’ve worked on the issue of equal pay throughout my career as a pollster and communications strategist. One consistent finding is that while in theory Americans widely support the concept of equal pay for equal work, there has not been as much energy around actually doing something about the issue. In my opinion, one barrier to raising the salience of the issue is in its framing. Until recently, equal pay was understood as a women’s issue, often falling under the category of gender equality or women’s rights issues. But in fact, equal pay is an economic issue that affects the security of American families everywhere.

Numerous studies have shown that equal pay for women would significantly boost the American economy—in one year, the U.S. would have produced $447.6 billion more income, and the poverty rate for working women would be cut in half. The income women bring in is also increasingly critical to the financial security of family units, and when women make less that means less money for groceries, gas, rent, college tuition and other things families need. When women are held back, families—who make up the backbone of our country– are held back too.

This morning I attended a Roundtable on Pay Equality, hosted by Glassdoor, featuring Hillary Clinton, Tracy Sturdivant of Make It Work, and other leaders across the business, political, and cultural spheres. The panel participants highlighted the work that needs to be done to ensure equal pay for equal work everywhere. The first item on the agenda is passing the Paycheck Fairness Act, a law that will help prevent retaliation against employees who inquire about wage practices or disclose their own pay. This law will also increase transparency and make wage data available, so that employees have the information and tools they need to advocate for equal pay.

One obstacle to making change through policy that Hillary Clinton pointed out is that we need better language and messaging to talk about this issue and dispel myths about why the wage gap exists. And as Tracy Sturdivant reminded us, we also need to talk about equal pay in tandem with other issues that will elevate women and families, like paid family leave and affordable childcare. Finally, we need to continue to reframe equal pay not as an issue that only affects women, but one that affects families and therefore our country.

Panelist Lori Nishiura Mackenzie, director of Stanford’s Clayman Institute for Gender Research, left the audience with a piece of advice that really resonated with me. She said that we cannot wait for legislative changes to happen, and that we need to work within our own companies and organizations to ensure we have policies and procedures that are fair and equal for all employees. Women in senior leadership positions need to mentor younger women and advocate for their advancement in companies. For those of us involved in performance reviews, we need to take a good look within and ask ourselves how we are evaluating employees and be honest about any implicit biases or assumptions we might be inserting into our reviews. We need to challenge our colleagues to do the same. The discussion was an important reminder to me and to others who are in positions of power in their own organizations that we have the responsibility to tear down the patriarchy from the inside as well.

Hillary Clinton and other panelists discuss equal pay at Glassdoor's Roundtable on Pay Equality
Hillary Clinton and other panelists discuss equal pay at Glassdoor’s Roundtable on Pay Equality