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Wednesday's Woman of the Week: Jen Welter

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


This week I would like to give the spotlight to a very special first, the second football first I've honored this summer, after Sarah Thomas became an official referee. On Monday, the Arizona Cardinals announced that they hired Dr. Jen Welter, PhD, to coach in its training camp/preseason, which makes her the first woman to hold a coaching title in the NFL.

As a Tuscon resident, I'm proud of the Cardinals for making this choice, and making history! Welter, 37, will coach the inside linebackers for this upcoming season. The team's first training camp practice will be on August 1st.

What many don't know about Welter is that this isn't the first time she's broken a glass ceiling in professional sports - she has played in men's and women's professional football leagues, and she was also the first woman to hold a non-kicking position when she played as a running back last year with the Revolution. For the Revolution she also worked as a linebacker coach.

Welter took to Twitter to discuss her new title, tweeting: "In my Cinderella story. I was transformed in a football uniform, helmet, & cleats not a gown, a crown, & heels!" She also added: "I am honored to be a part of this amazing team."

She has a master's degree in sports psychology and a doctorate in psychology, and this week I want to celebrate not only all of her many accolades, but also the way she is embracing her role as a trailblazer - and sending that message to girls.

"It shows them that anything is possible, and that's so beautiful," Welter said, "Unfortunately I think the hardest thing in our society right now, no offense, is the media. We show little girls all the time to be beautiful and to do it all the wrong ways. We show them as accessories, for no other better way to put it. We teach them very early on to be pretty, marry well, and then act badly and you'll get on TV. That's what they grow up thinking that fame is or success is. I want little girls to grow up knowing that when they put their mind to something, when they work hard, that they can do anything."

Thank you, Jen, for breaking yet another glass ceiling, and for proving to young women in sports that anything truly is possible.


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: Margaret Hamilton

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


This past Monday we celebrated the 46th anniversary of the Project Apollo, the successful American lunar landing. It was an incredible feat for America, and for humanity - the personal bravery showcased made it an unforgettable event for all those who sat infront of their television screens and held their breaths as Neil Armstrong took those historic first steps. But at the heart of the lunar triumph, millions of miles away back on earth, it was a woman who played a major role in making it all happen, and that woman is Margaret Hamilton - the programmer who saved the moon landing.

While Neil Armstrong may have been the first human to walk on the moon, the efforts of the aeronaturical and hardware engineers that made the entire effort possible cannot be overlooked. The software for the guidance computer, making navigation possible by assisting and controlling the spacecraft, was written by a team at the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory, which was headed by Hamilton.

In speaking about the photo above, Hamilton said: "In this picture, I am standing next to listings of the actual Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) source code. To clarify, there are no other kinds of printouts, like debugging printouts, or logs, or what have you, in the picture." That's right, it's all just Hamilton and her code!

Hamilton coined the term "software engineering," and has seen the field grow into a prestigious profession - one where there is still a need for women. In an interview on the subject, Hamilton said: "I began to use the term 'software engineering' to distinguish it from hardware and other kinds of engineering. When I first started using this phrase, it was considered to be quite amusing. It was an ongoing joke for a long time. They liked to kid me about my radical ideas. Software eventually and necessarily gained the same respect as any other discipline."

At present, Hamilton is 78 and runs Hamilton Technologies, a company she founded in 1986. Also at present, Fortune's list of "unicorn companies," named for privately held tech startups worth $1 billion or more, was released. Just four of the companies on the list have female CEOs, which is 5% total. This number needs to change. Let's all celebrate Hamilton's accomplishments this week as we think back on the historic lunar landing - and also let us be reminded that women in tech helped to pave the way.


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: Harper Lee

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


With the sequel to one of America's most revered novels releasing yesterday, this week I want to celebrate Harper Lee for her courage in releasing Go Set a Watchman, accomplishing one of the biggest strides in her career as an author in her late 80s, and giving us all another chance to discuss the important issues of equality.


The Watchman manuscript was shelved for more than half a century, until Lee agreed to publish it and give generations of Mockingbird fans another chance to join Finch and Atticus back in Maycomb, re-examining issues of racial equality and other societal dialogues.

Though the book's publication, and even content, have stirred some controversy, it's impossible to overlook Lee's illustrious career and contributions to American literature, making her one of the greatest American writers of our time. Like in Mockingbird, which sold 40 million copies to date and earned her the Pulitzer prize, she has already received praise for her character dialogues, accute comedic eye, and knack for having a finger on the societal pulse of the times.

Personally, I have yet to see Mockingbird on the screen or read the original, but I believe she was ahead of her time. I'm excited by the thought that there are other manuscripts of hers that lie waiting to be found - very clever lady!

While many are focusing on Go Set a Watchman at the moment, I also want to recognize Lee for her other many honors over the years. In 2007 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and in 2010 she received the National Medal of Arts.

So this week I celebrate Harper Lee for the release of her second, much anticipated, novel, her contributions to American literature, and all she has done to keep dialogue of important issues in the forefront for generations.

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: Sallie Krawcheck

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


Sallie Krawcheck is no stranger to the executive board. Her women's group, Ellevate Network, teamed up with Pax World Investments to launch and index fund that would invest in companies with strong representation of women at the top. This week I'm celebrating Sallie for making change happen, and using her position to further the pursuits of equality for women in corporate America.

She has spoken publicly lately about pay parity and better financial counseling for women, raising awareness and get the media talking about these important issues, particularly as female presidential hopefuls take the spotlight.

Research has shown that companies with greater diversity at the top also tend to perform better financially. She said that in the years to come, the impact of poor financial management will be evident in the economy as large numbers of women end up alone in retirement without the money they will need - largely due to a $14 trillion retirement savings gap.

In a recent interview with The Washington Post, Krawcheck said: "Research has just been research. This index fund, by investing in the top 400 companies in the world for women - by percent of women on the board [or] percent of women in senior leardership teams - is a way of expressing that investment case."

Thank you, Sallie, for taking a stand for women and getting these important conversations going in the public arena, making change happen! Or, in her words, for moving "from advocacy of women to the smart business of real investment in women."


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: Misty Copeland

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


Yesterday, Misty Copeland made ballet history by becoming the first African-American woman to be promoted to the highest rank of the American Ballet Theatre: principal dancer. This is a first in the company's 75-year history. This week I want to congratulate Misty for this monumental achievement, for following her dreams and taking them all the way.

She first joined the company in spring of 2001, and often spoke of her desire to be named the first African-American woman to be named a principal dancer at the company.

In her memoir, "Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina," which came out last year, she said: "My fears are that it could be another two decades before another black woman is in the position that I hold with an elite ballet company... That if I don't rise to principal, people will feel I have failed them."

After 14 years, she achieved her goal, and became a noteable figure along the way: she was the first ballet dancer to appear in an Under Armour advertisement last year, she appeared in a Diet Dr. Pepper commercial, and even danced on top of Prince's piano in 2010. The Under Armour commercial earned more than four million views on YouTube within its first week. The tagline they used was "I will what I want." That is true of Misty today.

Misty started practicing ballet at 13, and has followed her dreams all the way through. Olympic gold medal gymnast, Nadia Comaneci, commented on her story in Time, saying that she "followed her dreams and refused to give up." She went on to add: "She is a model for all young girls... It doesn't matter where you're from. If you have the passion like Misty, you can be the best at what you do."

That's something we can all take away from Misty's story, because her story is one of a woman who wasn't afraid to follow her dreams, pursue her passion, and take it to the top. She has a bright career ahead of her, no doubt inspiring countless young dancers of all racial and ethnic backgrounds to follow in her footsteps - or, I should say, ballet slippers.


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: Sheryl Sandberg

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


First, she changed lives with her Lean In message. Now, she's reminding us what it means to be human: to be successful in business, and to live a full life with all of its ups and down. I want to celebrate Sheryl Sandberg this week for all she's accomplished, and for redefining the ways in which we discuss personal tragedies inside and outside of the workplace.


Sheryl's list of accolades are so impressive it would take multiple blog posts to cover them - so here's a snapshot: she's the COO of Facebook, noteable woman billionaire, featured in Time's 100 Most Influential People in the World list, best-selling author, and activist and founder of the Lean In movement.

At present, she's also adding "human being" to that list. The Facebook post she wrote after the loss of her husband, Dave Goldberg, may be one of the most raw, personal messages we've heard from women leaders in the past year, and it's all about being human.

"A truly equal world would be one where women ran half our countries and companies and men ran half our homes," Sheryl wrote in Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead. The goal of the Lean In movement is to encourage women to lean in to positions of leadership, because having more female voices in leadership positions will lead to the creation of more equitable opportunities for everyone. In her book, which has sold more than one million copies, she opened a conversation about gender equality and reminds us that we need to examine the societal barriers that hold women, and our world as a whole, back from achieving leadership roles and fostering change.

Over the last two months, Sheryl reminds us that our workplaces and executive boards need, and can thrive, on our humanity. She writes candidly about how many of her colleagues faced difficulty in finding the "right" way to acknowledge her tragedy, and what she needs from them: "When I am asked 'How are you?' I stop myself from shouting, 'My husband died a month ago, how do you think I am?' When I hear 'How are you today?' I realize the person knows that the best I can do right now is to get through each day."

"I have lived 30 years in these 30 days," Sheryl wrote,"I am 30 years sadder. I feel like I am 30 years wiser... I have learned to ask for help, and I have learned how much help I need. Until now, I have been the older sister, COO, the doer and the planner."

In writing about the nuances of her experience, dealing with grief in the workplace, she highlights that emotion and "lacking executive presence" should not be mutually exclusive. In fact, she's standing up for open and honest discussions, citing that our discomfort with our own humanity is causing disconnection in the workplace.

So this week I want to honor, and thank, Sheryl, not only for sharing her own humanity, but for helping to give ours a place both in the workplace and on the leadership board.


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: Jennifer Bailey

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


This week I would like to celebrate Jennifer Bailey, vice president in charge of Apple Pay, who became the first woman tech executive in almost five years to appear on the stage, at the Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference. Bailey discussed progress in mobile payments for Apple's latest initiatives, and ended a dryspell that desparately needed to be broken.

Bailey took the stage for the keynote presentation, where she spoke in front of a crowd of software developers and journalists to discuss Apple Pay's progress.

It is also important to give mention to Susan Prescott, who also took the stage to give a pitch for Apple's upcoming News application.

This past Monday marked the first time women executives have been included on the stage during an Apple keynote presentation since 2010, when Farmville was launched and demonstrated by Jen Herman.

Because of the rise in media attention toward gender inequality in male-dominated Silicon Valley companies, and the tech industry as a whole, Apple has taken a clear stance on the issue. In fact, Tim Cook, Apple's chief executive, said in an interview days before the event that the industry needs to do a better job in tackling gender issues in the workplace.

So now we congratulate Jennifer for her accomplishments in the tech industry, and the bright future she has in front of her as gender equality in the field becomes more and more in focus and more women join her ranks. We're grateful for one of Silicon Valley's leading company giving women employees a chance to take the stage and showcase their work and stories - and the next big achievement will be when Jennifer is one of many women presenting and participating in events such as these.


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 Women of the Week: Hillary Clinton and Nina McLemore

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


I came across this article in Fortune last week, which discussed two women I have celebrated on this blog before: Hillary Clinton and my friend Nina McLemore. I'm happy to shout out to these two women again today, as Hillary wears Nina's designs and presents herself to the country as a presidential campaign runner.

Nina and I met and became friends as a result of the Committee of 200, and other programs we participated in for women on college campuses. I was there when she was starting the Nina McLemore brand to meet the needs of business women - and now presidential candidates like Hillary. It's great to see two powerful and impactful women come together in this way.

The "pantsuit" has been Hillary's signature look and trademark style for years. She buys many of them from Nina's line, but when it comes to Nina's designs it's not just about buying the clothes. Nina encourages women to embrace fashion and their own personal style as a communication tool.

In an interview with Politico Nina said: "I personally think it's hard for women to have charisma, where some men have it in spades. We can't change the fact that we're women, but we can put forth our best image for the result we want."

In addition to Hillary Nina has dressed other women in politics, such as Elizabeth Warren and Janet Yellen.

Later in the interview, Nina added: "People often harp on the whole concept of 'we shouldn't be talking about what a female is wearing,' but we should. It's a very important topic, in fact. I don't think a lot of people, women in particular, realize how strong the power of how we look really is... Once the brain makes a conclusion about a person, based on a first look, whether that impression is positive of negative, it's done; it's not just a first impression, it's a stamp."

It's important to think about how you're communicating with the world through what you're wearing. Ask yourself: are you dressing for the job you want? Does the way you dress represent you, and the confidence you want to exude? As Hillary presents herself to the country in Nina's designs, rest assured her impression will be of a strong, confident woman with poise.


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!

Women Peace Activists Achieve The Impossible: Crossing The DMZ

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


This week I would love to extend my congratulations to Gloria Steinem, as well as Nobel Peace Laureates Mairead Maguire and Leymah Gbowee, and the group of international women activists who crossed the Demilitarized Zone dividing North and South Korea by bus this past weekend.

The group of 30 members, called WomenCrossDMZ, picked up the bus on Sunday Morning that ferried them across the Demilitarized Zone that has been separating the two Koreas for more than 50 years.

Steinem said: "We feel very celebratory and positive that we have created a voyage across the DMZ in peace and reconciliation that was said to be impossible."

She went on to add: "We can learn on paper and on screen, but the ability to understand, not just learn, happens when we are together and able to empathize."

The group promoted involving women in the peace-building process when it comes to negotiations between countries in tension.

This is a great accomplishment for women all over the world. Women are agents of change on an international stage, and have done the impossible by crossing this barrier. Together, women can accomplish feats of peace that we have only dreamed of until today.

An Open Letter to the 2015 College Graduates

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


The following is inspired by Susan’s commencement speech at Cottey College for the class of 2015.


Dear college graduates,


When I was in your seat 50 years ago, I was a young woman aspiring to land a job in a work environment dominated by men. Today, we have two women running for president. We have women leading some of the most important and influential companies in the country. And we have opportunities like we've never had before.

After today, it’s your turn to seize these opportunities. You now have the training. You now have the knowledge.

This next transition you're facing isn't just an opportunity to move from the campus to a corporate office, higher education or more specialized training. This transition is an opportunity for you to start changing the world - not just for yourself but for those who will graduate in the future.

This is an opportunity to make things happen for you rather than leting things happen to you.

When I graduated from college, I was fortunate to be offered a position as the first woman professional at Arthur Andersen, which eventually became Accenture, the $30 billion global management and consulting company.

Times have changed. Today, women comprise over 50 percent of the workforce. Women earn more college degrees than men – not just at the undergraduate level, but right up to the doctorate level.

Yet while women have made great strides, let’s not fool ourselves.

Gender inequality, pay inequality, sexism – it’s all still alive and well in today’s workforce, just as it was 50 years ago. Today, women typically make about 75 cents for every $1 a man makes. Of the Fortune 500 companies, only 25 are run by women. Twenty-three of the Fortune 500 companies have absolutely no women on their corporate boards.

All of these numbers MUST change! So how do we make these changes? These changes will be up to you and others of your generation.

In order to have more women leaders in the top jobs in America, women like you must work your way up and into the CEO’s suite.

In order to improve pay and address gender inequality, we must demand it – from our employers, from our lawmakers, from the companies whose products we buy.

In order to bring more women into management roles, you must bring them up the ladder behind you as you move up. And you must also enlist the help of men, as long as men are still in control of 75 percent of the Fortune 500 companies.

Sounds daunting?

You thought graduating college was tough. And now I’m saying it’s up to you to change the world.


So where do you start? Start with you.


Several years ago, I wrote a book called “Become the CEO of You, Inc.” Before you can become the CEO of a Fortune 500 company and change the world, you have to become the CEO of you.

How do you do that? In my book, I suggested three easy steps.

Here’s Step One. Define your aspiration. What are you doing in 3 years? In 5 years?

Step Two. Assemble your team. These are your advisors, your mentors, your LinkedIn and Facebook friends who not only know of jobs out there, but can help you with the skills and the connections to get them.

Step Three. Set your course in life. Program your personal GPS for where you want to be in three years. And in three years after that.

Work your plan. If you have to make some unexpected detours along the way, that’s OK. Just like a GPS, make some adjustments and back on – and stay on – course.

And here’s the last thing I’ll mention.

When you DO become the CEO of that major company or start the next Google or Facebook – and I know you will - don’t forget other women. Making true changes for women means we must watch out for other women. We must fill the pipeline with smart women all along the way.

And today, I want to celebrate your success, and the many more successes to come for you. For your fellow graduates across the country, and for all women.

Be the CEO of You, Inc., make things happen for you rather than let things happen to you, and make the world a better place for your having been here.

From your coach,


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

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