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Reflecting on Women's History Month 2015

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


As we close out March, I want to take time to reflect on Women’s History Month.

This month was one of celebration, celebrating those women who helped women get to where we are today. Also, to celebrate those women who are helping women of the future, to make the world a better one for everyone. This is a time for women and men to congratulate women on what they have achieved, and open up the opportunities that are still available for all of us.

The women I celebrate, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Stanton, were advocates of equal rights for women, giving women the right to vote in 1920. Others on my list are Amelia Earhart, Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, Gloria Steinem, and Sally Ride.

I reached out to some of my friends and former colleagues and asked: which women are on your list? Who are the three women who come to mind when you think about International Women’s Month?

Here are some of the names that came up in addition to the ones I mentioned above: Marie Curie, Hillary Clinton, Francis Perkins, Margaret Thatcher, Katherine Graham, Malala Yousafzai, Angela Merkl, Dr. Tania Singer, Helen Keller, Maya Angelou, Golda Meir, Joan of Arc, Mae Jemison, Shirely Chisolm, Sourjourner Truth, Fannie Lou Hamer, Madolyn Albright, Oprah Winfrey, Indra Nooyi, and Mother Teresa.

Susan B. Anthony, Hillary Clinton, and Oprah were top three mentioned.

Which women are on your list? We may soon have the first woman president. Within the next ten years we may have the Speaker of the House and the Senate, and have 40 percent women on Boards of Directors and on senior leadership teams of the Fortune 500 companies. And, finally, equal pay for women.

The results of a recent global survey by Accenture paints an optimistic picture about the future for women, and particularly women in tech. The results are from 3,600 professionals in 30 countries:


  • 71% said the number of female technology officers will be higher by 2030.
  • 52% of their companies are prepping women for senior management more than a year before.
  • Women and men are equal in asking for a promotion.
  • Women are still less likely to ask for a raise, and women mentioned it was more than they expected.

Let’s carry that optimism past this month, and look toward a bright future. For the year 2020, my wish is that by the 100th anniversary of the right to vote, we will all make an effort to get 25% board seats and woman as executive officers and 10% of the Fortune 500 CEOs. And, of course, equal pay for those positions.

The truth is that we can celebrate these women every month, every day, by doing what we can to make a change and keep moving toward equality. What will you do to honor their memories as we move into April? And beyond?


Your coach,


Wednesday's Woman of the Week: Michelle Obama

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


This week I want to give the spotlight to First Lady Michelle Obama, who announced the "Let Girls Learn" initiative earlier this week, which has the goal of helping girls around the world get access to education. Obama will be joined by Akie Abe, wife of the Japanese Prime Minister. It's a great initiative to create change in women's education, getting others on board to change the world.

"A new partnership to educate girls across the globe" was announced in Tokyo earlier last week, which was the official Let Girls Learn announcement. Obama and Abe encouraged other countries to continue to make an impact that will incite global change.

Obama elaborated on the importance of getting getting other countries involved, saying: "Given the magnitude of the challenge, U.S. action alone will not suffice, nor will the efforts of just a few concerned countries. That is why this week in Japan we will call for countries around the world to join us by making their own investments to help girls learn."

On a domestic level, Obama said that her hope is that Let Girls Learn will inspire the younger generation in the U.S. to work for an education, as well as to help others do the same.

She wrote the following op-ed about the importance of the intitiative and on the struggle many girls go through to get an education:

While the focus of this work is international, Let Girls Learn is also about inspiring young people here at home to commit to their education. Through Let Girls Learn, I want girls—and boys—here in the U.S. to learn about the challenges girls world-wide face in getting an education. I want them to understand that even though their own school might be far from perfect—and my husband is working hard to change that—they still have a responsibility to show up every day and learn as much as they can. And I want them to connect with other young people from every background and nationality, particularly young women who set such a powerful example.
These girls walk miles each day to school, study for hours each night, and stand strong against those who say they are unworthy of an education. If they are prepared to make those sacrifices, the global community should be able to summon the resources to help them fulfill their promise and the promise of their families, communities and countries.

So this week I celebrate the first lady for taking this step to unite countries around the world in the pursuit of educating girls across the globe. Together we can make an impact, and change the world for girls and women everywhere.


Wednesday's Woman of the Week is a weekly feature. If you have any recommendations, please feel free to let me know on my Facebook page or on Twitter. I'd love to hear about the inspiring women in your life!

The Wizard of Oz: My Experience Seeing the Eugene Symphony

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


This past Sunday, when I was in Eugene, Oregon, I saw the Eugene Symphony perform The Wizard of Oz - as we watched the film on the big screen, the symphany played the soundtrack as we all watched in awe. The Eugene Symphony is also celebrating its 50th anniversary this year!

I found out about it because several years ago the orchestra in Tucson did it, and because of that I had to tell my cousin, Jane. She was in theater and has acted as many of the characters. We attended the show together.
Upon arrival, prior to the opening of the doors, the lobby was filled with adults and children all dressed up like the characters in the movie. It was fabulous, and everyone was having fun, including me!


A group of girls were there, having their picture taken. They were all there for a birthday party. What a way to celebrate your birthday. They were all dressed up, also. A large man, dressed up like a lion won the best costume for an adult. I had a Dorothy t-shirt on, and Jane opted for the Wicked-Witch with the house, with only the witch's striped socks showing from under the house.


I remember seeing the Wizard of Oz movie in 4th or 5th grade at the local theater, the school took us. I was scared to death, and cried.


After the doors opened and we were all seated we saw the large movie screen, but not like the large screens that you see today when you go to the movies. The movie was old-style, black and white. The original Wizard of Oz film was released in 1939.


The symphony was then seated on the stage, with the large screen hung overhead. It was great to see all of the children in the Hult, where the symphony plays on a routine basis. These children were not only experiencing the movie, but hearing and watching the symphony orchestra, which I am sure they will never forget. What an impact.


The symphony really worked to stay in sync with the movie. Sometimes they did get out of sync, and the conductor would have to play 'catch-up'. The all had to be exhausted when it was over - almost three hours with intermission.


Overall, an exciting experience for everyone, and a must-see if any of you see it advertised. I knew about it because several years ago the orchestra in Tucson did it, and because of that I had to tell Jane. She was in theater and has acted as many of the characters.


For more photos of the event, please check out my Facebook page!
Lessons Learned From Marie Kondo: the Cult of Tidying Up

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


I recently read an article in the Wall Street Journal about Marie Kondo and the ”Cult of Tidying Up,” which also discussed her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

"Tidying up" is a message that everyone should think of every day. Whether it's hanging up your clothes, making your bed, cleaning up the kitchen, or even just putting things away when you are done with them.

As someone who has moved many times, I wish I had used each time as a way to 'tidy up' my storage. I am a 'pile person,' just like my father. And like him, most of the time I know which pile to find something. This year I have decided that I have lots of things that I don't need, and if something were to happen to me, I want people to find the important stuff, not have to have a shredder come to my house to get rid of lots of stuff, and to give away those things that others might be able to use.

There is an amazing comment in the article - her advice freed readers from the guilt that often comes with discarding an object given by a loved one. Thank their clothes for their service---or for teaching them that pink isn't their color---before letting them go!

And she says that "storage bins" are a booby trap. They are a superficial answer, because in most cases you will probably never open the storage again except to see what's in it and then put it back on the shelf.

Given my experience, I would suggest that you target and "annual" purge: paper, kitchen products, piles of papers, files that haven't been looked at in months, etc.

If you're like me, you will wonder why you're keeping them.

What are you going to "tidy up" this weekend? Maybe a tradition is to "tidy up" something every Saturday.


Your coach,


Wednesday's Woman of the Week: Ellen Kullman

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


Keeping with the Fortune's "50 Most Powerful Women in Business" trend, this week I celebrate a true pioneer. At the end of last month DuPont's Chair and CEO Ellen Kullman was elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), "for leadership in the business growth and transformation of a global science and engineering company." So this week I would like to congratulate Ellen on her achievement, and to a bright future to come.

Before her role as a leader, though, Kullman said one of her toughest early jobs was watering plants for her father's landscaping business. In an interview with Fortune, she said: "That was the job I hated most: pouring water on those darn flowers."

But she concedes that through this practice she learned a powerful lesson that she took forward with her in her career: "If you don't water it, it's going to die."

This was undoubtedly a lesson Kullman kept in mind when she became CEO at DuPont, where she saw two restructurings in her first year alone. But now sales and profits have recovered, and she has led many important acquisitions. With a healthy company and her new role with the NAE, Kullman is in a position to succeed. National Academy of Engineering membership honors "those who have made outstanding contributions to engineering research, practice, or education, and to the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology."

Kullman said: "Engineering plays an essential role in DuPont's effort to translate advanced science into meaningful innovations that solve some of the world's greatest challenges. I also have drawn constantly on my own engineering background as a leader."

Combining engineering and leadership is one way Kullman is poised to change the world. In the same Fortune interview, when it comes to our capacity for growth she said: "People want to work on stuff that matters, where they think they can make a difference. Its' not just about science anymore. It's about how science relates to the world. I think kids coming out of engineering school get really energized by the chance to work on these kinds of problems."

Cheers to Ellen, a pioneer inciting change. Let's take a page from her book: where will you "water" your next career advancement?


Wednesday's Woman of the Week is a weekly feature. If you have any recommendations, please feel free to let me know on my Facebook page or on Twitter. I'd love to hear about the inspiring women in your life!

Wednesday's Woman of the Week: Christine Lagarde

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


Forbes says she's the fifth most powerful woman in the world. She's the head of the International Monetary Fund, but what makes her powerful is her fearlessness. When asked how she copes with failure, Christine Lagarde's words to CNN were: "Oh get over it. Get over it and move on."

Despite any setbacks she may have faced, Lagarde is consider by many to be a woman of firsts. She was the first female finance minster of France. She was the first woman to chair the global law firm Baker and McKenzie. For the last four years she has been the first woman to lead the IMF.

She's also using her voice to push for equality laws. Speaking to economies in the developing world, she told them that they can boost their GDPs by up to 30 percent by allowing women into the workforce. Lagarde discusses in a recent article on the IMF's blog that a new study revealed that 90 percent of countries worldwide have some form of legal restriction that bars women from the workplace, from getting loans, or from owning property. Yet 40 percent of the global workforce is women. Only 21 percent of women in the Middle East and North Africa work outside the home.

For Lagarde, a mother of two, this number isn't nearly high enough. She said that changing laws that keep women from participating in the economy is the first step. She provided a percentage of increase that various countrys' GDPs would increase by by including women equally in the workfource: +9 percent for Japan, +12 percent in the United Arab Emirates and +34 percent in Egypt. Even here in the U.S. we could increase our own GDP by 5 percent if we made it easier for women to participate in the economy.

The next step, according to Lagarde, is to give attention to childcare and maternity leave benefits, as those elements play a large role in women working outside the home. She said that the U.S. is one of the few developed countries that offers no guaranteed maternity leave. This needs to change.

"In too many countries, too many legal restrictions conspire against women to be economically active. In a world in search of growth, women will help find it, if they face a level playing field instead of an insidious conspiracy," she wrote in a recent blog. Lagarde's words continue to spread, and I want to celebrate her this week for her efforts to insight the change we sorely need in the global workforce.


Wednesday's Woman of the Week is a weekly feature. If you have any recommendations, please feel free to let me know on my Facebook page or on Twitter. I'd love to hear about the inspiring women in your life!

Wednesday's Woman of the Week: MJ Day

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


Not only are MJ Day's credentials impressive, but as the assistant managing editor of Sports Illustrated she's impacting the designs of swimsuits for women. Day is considered one of the most innovative and unique editors to date, according to a recent Huffington Post article, and is in charge of "all content creation for the franchies across print digital and video platforms from the ground up."

Day has worked at Sports Illustrated for more than 15 years, and has been involved in some of their most groundbreaking shoots. Within her industry she is looked to for setting season trends and best-sellers. She's a true example of a woman who climbed up the rankes, starting as an editorial assistant in 1998, to be at the helm today.

In a recent interview with The Huffington Post, she credits seeing her mother being passionate about her own career as an experience that led her to be the leader she is today: "I learned from her example," she said, "I looked up to her and her success and saw that if you work hard, you can be good at what you do and have a fulfilling career and a family."

She said that she believes balance is the biggest issue for women in the workplace. In the interview she opened up about her struggles with not letting her job consume her entire life, especially working a 12-hour day. She's also a mother of a four-month-old and a nine-year-old. To try to find balance, she says that when she spends time with her family she gives "200%" to that time. In this way Day exemplifies a great lesson - wherever you are, be all there.

When it comes to offering advices to other women looking to more forward in their careers, she said: "Be humble enough to see the advantages working from the bottom up. In a time where a select few come blazing into the scene out of nowhere, the long term benefits of understanding and experiencing the psychologies, the objectives and the pitfalls of this tricky industry is worth it. It makes you more valuable, it makes you smarter, savvier...Don't be too proud to schlep and want to prove yourself. You won't be doing it forever."

Female leaders she admires and finds inspiration from includes Jule Campbell, the first editor of the Swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated, and notes that "there are so many women doing great things out there in every way."

This week, as we celebrate MJ, make an effort to do great things in your own way, and give all of yourself to your area of focus to help attain balance. Thanks, MJ, for your inspirational words and example.


Wednesday's Woman of the Week is a weekly feature. If you have any recommendations, please feel free to let me know on my Facebook page or on Twitter. I'd love to hear about the inspiring women in your life!

Wednesday's Woman of the Week: Cathy Engelbert

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


Monday was a historical day for women professionals, and for Deloitte, a well-known professional services firm who have really focused on developing women for leadership positions. They named Cathy Engelbert their next CEO, making her the first female U.S. CEO of a "Big Four" firm.

Engelbert formerly served as chairman and CEO of Deloitte's audit subsidiary, and there's no question that she'll transition well into her new role. When asked about her historical new job title, Engelbert said: "It is a proud moment and a milestone. To the extend that I can be a role model for diverse leaders at Deloitte, I love it. This is a tangible demonstration of our commitment at Deloitte to the advancement of women."

She added: "I have gotten so many email today from our women - and men- who really believe that we have an inclusive culture as proven through my election."

When companies make it a priority to develop women for leadership positions, look what happens! Women and minorities account for around 66 percent of Deloitte's new hires.

Engelbert is optimistic about the future for women in leadership: "There are more women in the C-Suite and in the boardroom... [but] we are not where we need to be and we have a lot of work to do."

In giving advice to other women, Engelbert said the best advice she received is to build experience, and cultivate a range of experiences, because that strengthens a leader. She credit taking risks and taking on new opportunities and responsibilities as the reason she is a CEO today. In her words: "Don't stand still."

I hope that as you move forward in your career you don't stand still - we can work together to make sure that there are more women CEOs on the horizon!

Strive For Your Success #LikeAGirl

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


We never say "act like a boy" and when we say "act like a girl" it's often meant as a negative. Sort of a whimsy. So when the "Like A Girl" Super Bowl ad ran it was pretty bold - maybe even a game changer for women and girls.

It was interesting to see a 'women's' company (Procter & Gamble's Always) with an ad running during the Super Bowl in the first place. Even with all of the women viewers, feminine hygiene isn't something that is often talked about. The ad claimed a prime 60-second time slot.

The "Like A Girl" campaign began last summer, and the commercial kicks off with boys showing what it means to them to do various activities "like a girl," such as running, catching, fighting, and more, having the boys act it out. Then girls are asked to do the same.

The difference was striking.

The girls, at an age not yet tainted with peer and societal pressure, did their demonstrations with strength and poise, showing us the potential of an elevated self-esteem attainable for young girls.

Fama Francisco, vice president of Global Always, analyzed data with her colleagues that showed that self-esteem amongst girls drops significantly when they hit puberty: "That deep consumer insight and understanding made us really step back and think, 'What are the things that really contribute to that and how can we make a difference,'" she said to The Huffington Post.

"When you have a message that really addresses such an important and a real issue and it's done in a way that is very consistent with who we are as a brand," Francisco continued, "I think consumers want to engage with that."

Now we have a phrase that is talked about both out loud and even on the internet with the hashtag #LikeAGirl.

I hope the campaign brings perspective, insight and change. And I hope you go forward and strive for success #LikeAGirl!


Your coach,


What 2015 Holds For Me, And For Women In Business: A Letter From Susan Butler

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


I’ve been writing lately about how we need to change the dynamic for women in the workplace.

If we want to make real change, we need to aim for the stars. We must make a commitment to do it, like we did with the Moon Shot program in the 1960s and like entrepreneurs are doing with commercial space travel today. We must do what it takes to ‘make it happen!’

As women, we need to be more proactive – and confident in our workplaces. We need to start or participate in mentoring and coaching programs. We need to check any natural timidness at the door, and be aggressive and confident in our abilities—in meetings, in our relationships, in our work.

And –if we are going to make corporate America better for women, we need to get the current group of top executivesMEN – on board to help.

With men in the CEO’s office in 475 of the Fortune 500 companies, and men still holding the vast majority of corporate director seats, we simply can’t make change without bringing men along.

To do this, I believe, we need to make sure current corporate leaders understand the well-known value of having more women in top leadership positions. More women in leadership roles means more diversity in decision-making. It makes companies more appealing to a broader population. And as study after study has shown, more women in leadership positions make for better financial returns for companies.

We need to make 2015 a year that men get more involved in gender equality issues.

What does 2015 hold for me?

I will continue writing and speaking about gender equality in the workplace and in society.

I will continue to work with Drexel University‘s Vision 2020 organization and the Thirty Percent Coalition organization to bring about change to equality for women.

I will continue to help younger women plan their futures through coaching and mentoring.


So what does the rest of 2015 hold for you?

Won't you join me in helping change the world for women?


This blog post includes an excerpt from Susan's newsletter. If you're interested in receiving more content like this, you can sign up here.

Women Count White Border
$24.95, Hardcover
256 Pages
September 2010
Purdue University Press

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