Category Archives: Women

Sons and Daughters and Sexual Assault

I think it’s because my first daughter has gone off to college. As I was preparing myself and her departure and trying to fit in all the last-minute words of wisdom , I found that the issue of sexual assault on college campuses was a bit of an obsession. We have all become highly aware following the media attention around the discredited Rolling Stone article. But my anxiety was originally triggered by an even older story I read about Erin Cavalier being raped by an acquaintance after she had too much to drink. Her story raised all sorts of issues about responsibility and judgement that get very clouded when alcohol is involved. I shared this story with my daughter as a great example of how easy it is easy to get yourself in a situation where you are vulnerable if you have too much to drink. Erin was asking for help from a friend to get home after a night of partying and she thought she could trust him. My warning to my daughter was to have fun but to stay in control. She should remember she has the right to say “no” at any point but saying “no” only works if the other person is respectful and capable of understanding.

I’m also the mother of a college-age son who spent three years as an RA in freshman dorms. I shared Erin’s story with him as the basis for discussion about the issue of consent. He had been told during RA training workshops on this topic that a person is incapable of consenting after three drinks. Since women don’t wear a tally sign on their forehead, we talked about the responsibility if both parties and how it really comes down to common sense and good judgement. He has told me stories of finding partially dressed, passed-out women in bathroom stalls during his rounds as an RA. I worry about the vulnerable position this puts him in because it again requires that the other person is respectful and capable of understanding what’s going on.

Now, amid all the Bill Cosby accusations, another article caught my attention titled: It should never be too late to tell your story of rape. Abigail Hauslohner’s story was disturbing because she was rendered out of control by something her “good family friend” put in her drink. I was struck because she admitted thinking that this kind of thing didn’t happen to smart, progressive, informed people like her. She was so young when her attack happened and because this was someone she trusted, her first reaction was to question herself. Just like Bill Cosby’s victims did. I empathized because I could  absolutely see myself in a similar situation as this young woman when you are finding the

So now what am I telling my son and daughter?

  1. There are no hard-and-fast ground rules
  2. Girls are inventing products like date rape nail polish because drugs are being used on college campuses to incapacitate women and you should never put your drink down
  3. You may find yourself in situations that are not black-and-white and you should trust your gut. We are all born with a sixth sense and you need to trust it. I couldn’t always articulate why something didn’t feel right but when I doubted myself, I regretted it later.
  4. Watch out for those with a sense of entitlement. This is not just an unappealing quality, but a dangerous one too.
  5. Life is messy. Mistakes will be made. Let’s make sure they are mole hills and not mountains.

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Filed under Motherhood, Personal, Women

HBR Study Says Being Disruptive Gets Women in the Board Room

A colleague shared this article with me and it stopped me in my tracks.  It’s titled: Women Need to Realize Work Isn’t School by Harvard Business Review. It’s a thought-provoking article that anyone who has young daughters should read – and share with their young daughters.  It’s principle of being disruptive and persuasive in order to achieve boardroom status flys in the face of the gender-based paradigms of my generation.

As women in the workplace, we know this stuff.  But it’s really a great shot in the arm when someone articulates, validates and substantiates it.  Take the time to follow the author’s links at the bottom to the 10 Rules for Brilliant Women by Tara Sophia Mohr.  Also excellent!


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Filed under Business, Women

Inspired by the ICRW

I recently attended the ICRW’s International Women’s Day event at the National Press Club.  There was a sold out crowd sipping wine and noshing while talking about the really interesting things attendees were doing to support women’s issues.   I met several really smart, devoted and funny people (shout out to you Nancy W. and Patricia D.!) who use events like this to network and be inspired because they are slowly changing the world.  I attended because I knew I would meet people outside my normal networking circles and I wanted a window into the non-profit space. 

Women Pay it Forward

I was impressed to learn that the gentleman sitting next to me was in town on business.  He chose to spend his evening in D.C. (and his own money) at this event because he thinks about equality with Mercer.  Admirable.  I’m not sure I’d spend my time in a new city at a business event but bully for him.

Much of the discussion seemed esoteric until former First Lady of England spoke.  Cherie Blair said that one of her biggest frustrations while her husband was in office was that governments are compartmentalized and lose a lot of economies when information sharing doesn’t happen.  Programs move forward when they can build on each other as opposed to being redundant.  Silos also stifle learning.  Despite all the admirable work being done by each of the people on the panel, my mind wrapped around Mrs. Blair’s comments.  Information sharing can be propelled with the appropriate digital media marketing programs. 

Now how to apply this idea to governments. 

If only there was a way to leverage the learnings from multiple agencies.  I know many people have tried to tackle this but it almost sounds like it should be one agency’s job to organize and disseminate information.  An agency in charge of cross-pollination.  This agency would need to employ a  combination of sophisticated software that allows thorough searchability, and a strategic plan that considers how information would be accessed by authorized users.  The key is to create a framework that allows information to be excerpted, subscribed and shared so that further learning and cross-pollination can be facilitated.  Considerations would be information architecture, tagging, permissions and the rules around sharing and dissemination of information.  A project such as this would only be successful it it could be dynamic and expandable. Facinating!

I realize government programs such as this are not typical (thus Mrs. Blair’s frustrations) but . . . I can dream. And I do live in Washington, D.C.  Hmmmmm . . .

More on this later.


Filed under Events, Government, Women

Context Anyone?

As a Digital Media person, it’s high time that I started a blog of my own.  I’ve done a lot of writing but always on behalf of someone else.  Now it’s my turn to share some of my own thoughts with ‘yall.  I intend to use this space as a place to share opinions, make observations and keep track of what I’m finding interesting. 

But first some context . . .

I’m a mother of three children in the Fairfax County public school system.  It’s a great school system and I’m a HUGE fan of the language immersion program.  Having grown up in a town-based school system, the model in Fairfax County took some getting used to.  I’ve learned to appreciate the breadth of opportunities available to my kids because of the County’s size and diversity.  (I like to be involved in my kids’ education so you’ll hear me talking about this).

I’ve been working in digital media since the mid 90’s getting my start with a marketing communications firm that was bought by AOL in 1995.  My ten years at AOL was an amazing professional experience that I don’t believe could ever be replicated.  I was able to be a part of AOL’s Green House project that brought companies like Motley Fool online.  I was also able to be a part of a fledgling start-up organization within AOL called Digital City.  I now know how unusual it is to be part of a well-funded start-up in an industry that was in its infancy.   We were establishing a business model, getting our arms around user behavior and experimenting with how online content was different from other media.  We Digital City folks like to think we taught AOL a thing or two about the importance of user-generated content;-).  Consequently, several DCI folks were interested in migrating to AOL’s Community group.  As we mined AOL’s forums to capture public sentiment, we found new ways to package this content up for AOL’s “Channels”.   (We did some groundbreaking stuff and I’ll be taking note of companies who continue to do this particularly well).

My consulting business and start-up experience lead me to become more intimately involved with the non-profit mindset and resources.  I’m told I’m a bleeding heart always looking for my next cause and I guess that’s true.  (You’ll hear me expressing opinions about social issues that bug me).

Finally, my extracurricular interests usually revolve around my kids.  My son is into Scouting and music.  This has led me to an appreciation for the amount of work that goes into becoming proficient in either.  One daughter rides horses competitively as a hunter jumper.  I have come to adore horses but the horse world is full of interesting but CRAZY people.  They are loads of fun to hang around though;-).  My youngest daughter is just finding her thing but right now it’s gymnastics.  (You’ll see me talking about the life lessons I’m learning from my kids.)

Welcome to the realm of a working online Mom!

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Filed under Motherhood, Personal, Women