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Wednesday's Woman of the Week: Kay Johnston

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


Today's Little League baseball teams are open to both boys and girls, but in 1950 a 12-year-old girl was banned from her Little League team, and she went as far as pretending to be a boy in order to play. As the Little League World Series kicks off on August 18 in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, this same girl, Kay Johnston, now 73, will be throwing the first pitch.

Johnston changed baseball forever when she tried out for a Little League team, the Corning King's Dairy team, by trying to pass off as a boy. She had her mother cut off her two long braids, and she borrowed her younger brother's slacks and T-shirt.

She said: "I loved baseball because my dad did, I loved any sport but baseball was my favorite. My mom cut my hair off. Whatever I had left I tucked into one of my brother's baseball caps. I said to my mom, 'What am I going to call myself? Kay doesn't sound like a boy's name.' She said, 'You are always reading little comic books, why don't you just take the name Tubby?'"

So Johnston, as her alias Tubby, made the team and quickly because one of its best players. When she made the team she became the first girl to play Little League. She said her brother told her she couldn't play because she was a girl. Reflecting on his words, she said: "I wasn't going to let that stop me. I was stronger than him."

However, after a week of pretending to be a boy Johnston confessed to her coach, who told her: "If you're good enough to make the team, you're good enough to stay on the team."

Little League officials disagreed. The news reached the Little League headquarters in Williamsport, they passed the Tubby Rule: girls could not play in Little League baseball. The rule stood for nearly 20 years, until 1972, before being oveturned by the New Jersey Supreme Court, backed by the National Organization for Women.

64 years later, Johnston is ecstatic to be throwing out the first pitch next Monday: "I'm more than excited. It's unbelievable I get a chance to throw out that first pitch." She has been practicing for the pitch in her backyard in Yuba City, and told the media that she's determined to show them that she still has it after all this time.

2.7 million children are currently registered with Little League, and though they do not keep track of gender breakdowns they have said that the number of girls in baseball is rising. They can each relate to Johnston, who said she "was just a young girl who wanted to play baseball... I didn't think being a girl should keep you from playing."

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Wednesday's Woman of the Week: Sandy Barbour

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


News broke just last Saturday that former Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour has been introduced as Penn State's new athletic director, which makes her the first female AD in the university's history, and gives us reason to celebrate her as our woman of the week this week.

She's one of only three female athletic directors in the country. Former PSU women's AD Ellen Perry and SID Mary Jo Haverbeck, both beloved and celebrated women in the field, encountered glass ceilings issues in the athletics department prior.

Signs are positive for Barbour, who has a long track record. In her career thus far with Cal and beyond she has displayed dedication to academics, loyalty to friends, and a great passion for her work.

"We found the right person to lead our program," said university president Eric Barron during Barbour's announcement, "And the screening committee that weighed candidtate credentials found this person to be the clear choice, the first choice, the choice of every single member."

When discussing her new position, Barbour underscored that her focus will be putting academics first, and raising the 85 percent graduation rate to 90 percent. Her remarks brought applause from many Penn State coaches.

Barbour shared her elation at the press conference: "When you spend a professional lifetime serving institutions and, most importantly, students, you dream about coming to a palce like Penn State. Why? Because it represents the opportunity to have it all."

I certainly hope Barbour finds it all in her new position, and wish her warm congratulations and a long stay at Penn State. From her example we can all take away how a long and honest career can continue to open new doors for all women!

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10 Steps to Become the CEO of You, Inc

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


Climbing the corporate ladder might not be for everyone, but everyone can use secrets to business success in order to improve their lives and reach their goals. The key to success is to set achievable goals, develop a plan to reach those goals, surround yourself with people who can help you, and – most importantly – take charge to run your life the way you want it to be ran.

Here are ten steps to Become the CEO of You, Inc., excerpted from my book:

1. Make things happen for you, don’t just let them happen to you

Each of us only has one life to live. We can either: 1. Take responsibility and create the lives we want to live or 2. Let others shape our lives into something they want us to live. If you let others shape your life, you’ll never attain the degree of success you’re striving for.

2. Set your goals

Every CEO has an “end in mind” for their company. So should you. Write a journal entry or type an e-mail to yourself describing what you see yourself doing in three years. Be specific, but don’t over-complicate it. For example: 1.) “I’m a manager in the financial services sector of a Fortune 500 company,” 2.) “I’m on a team, solving global issues and I’ve traveled to eight different countries in the past year,” or 3.) “I’ll work out at least five days per week.” The more specific you are about what you want to be doing, the easier it will be to develop a plan to make it happen.

3. Create your board of directors

Now that you know where you want to be in three years, you’ll need a team to help you get there. This “board of directors” should consist of people who can help you confirm your aspirations, and then help you achieve them. These people should include mentors, sponsors, industry experts, peers, etc. They will help open doors for you, get you the right assignments, give you advice, or simply be there to listen.

4. Develop an annual plan with quarterly goals

Set short-term goals and hold yourself accountable. Meet your goals for every quarter and you’ll have a successful year. Have three successful years and you’ll meet your “end in mind.” Continually revisit and reevaluate your plan to make adjustments as needed. Do this to make sure you stay on target.

5. Execute your plan… everyday

If you don’t work toward your goals each and every day, you’ll miss your goals for the quarter, for the year… and for your entire life. Take time to think about what you’re doing (and not doing). If you don’t have the skills and capabilities to reach your goals, find a way to obtain them (this might be an instance where you refer to your board of directors).

6. Focus on your product

In this case, the product is you. Always be on the lookout for ways to improve your product. Search for ways to make yourself better, whether it’s through education, experience, networking, exercise, etc. Stay up-to-date in your field and skills. If your product is outdated, nobody will want it.

7. Pay attention to the packaging of your product

Develop the presence, poise, and voice to meet your goals and effectively perform in order to be in the position you want to be in. How are you presenting yourself at meetings? How do you associate with superiors, co-workers, and employees?

8. Market yourself

Be visible in your company, your industry, and your community. Prepare for every meeting. Learn how to use your voice with passion. People need to know who you are, what you’re capable of doing, and what you really want to do.

9. Demonstrate your skills

Make people want your product. Look for ways to utilize your entrepreneurial skills and deliver value to the company and shareholders. Recalibrate as changes occur, but don’t forget to deal with the cards you have in your hand today… not the ones you’re hoping to have in the future. Remember: You can do anything you set your mind to do.

10. Take time for yourself

Regularly assess where you are today and where you want to be tomorrow. Make sure you’re heading in the right direction and moving at the right speed to get you where you want to be. If you’re not, adjust and keep moving. Don’t forget to have fun along the way!

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Wednesday's Woman of the Week: Arianna Huffington

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


In addition to being the chair, president, and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, the self-proclaimed "sleep evangelist" and Thrive author Arianna Huffington is on my radar this week for all she does to help women realize their potential, to grow both professionally and personally, and to succeed in a way that is balanced and true to their spirit.

At a recent Power of Pink lunch Huffington explained her new definition of success to crowds of admiring business women. "Right now we define success in terms of two metrics - money and power," Huffington said, "And this is like trying to sit on a two-legged stool: sooner or later you fall off."

Her book, Thrive, delves into Huffington's ideas on redefining success and creating a fulfilled life. She talks candidly about her own challenges in regards to managing time and prioritizing the demands of a career and raising her two daughters.

In Thrive Huffington mentions the importance of sleep and its relation to being and doing your best in the workplace, and offers tips for fostering an effective work/life balance.

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Wednesday's Woman of the Week: Nina McLemore

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


Nina McLemore's clothes may have been worn by Hilary Clinton, Janet Yellen, Indira Nooyi and other powerful women leaders, but it's her dedication to women in leadership and women looking to move up into leadership roles that have her winning hearts across the country. Like her clothes, she is vibrant, has a strong presence, and is admired by so many women across many fields, including both government and corporate leadership.

Nina and I have been friends for many years, we were both members of the Committee of 200 when she began her business. She would come to our annual meetings and have a "trunk showing" for all of us. This is how I was first introduced to her line, and decided to invest.

I felt that we were both all about helping other women succeed, beginning with sponsoring women's conferences at universities like Wharton and NYU. We were about empowering women to 'be all they can be,' and in her case, helping women to dress appropriately for the position they desire to have.

In a Wall Street Journal study that published earlier this month, it was estimated that at least a quarter of female chief executives at Fortune 500 comapnies have appeared publicly in her clothes or shopped with her label. The article that published the findings was simply titled, "Women in Power Know Nina." Her success is a testament to both her talent and the sentiment that there are currently more women holding government and corporate leadership positions than ever before - a great sign for not only Nina's continued success, but for our success as women in business as a whole.

Nina recognized an unmet need for women in leadership positions to find appropriate work clothes. She told the Wall Street Journal: "Most luxury companies don't focus on the American professional woman. There are many more wealthy non-working women in the world."

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Wednesday's Woman of the Week: Anna Maria Chavez

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


"More than Cookie Peddlers - Senior Executive Helps Young Girls 'Scout Out' their Career Choices"
This was the headline of an article in the Greenwich Times, April 24, 1988.
Does the mention of Girl Scouts conjure up images of little girls in green foisting chocolate-mint cookies on spineless dieters?
This came out when I was elected at the Girl Scout convention in 1987, to my first term on the Girl Scouts' board of directors. I remember that Maya Angelou was our guest speaker. I look back and realize that my Girl Scout troop was my first 'girl's network,' but of course we didn't call it that then.
For many women in America, including CEO Anna Maria Chavez, belonging to the Girl Scouts was their first exposure to leadership roles. This week we celebrate Chavez not only for her leadership role serving the same organization that helped her to grow, but for her continued pursuit of passing leadership skills down to the next generation of girls.
In her speeches to new generations of Girl Scouts, she shares the following four pillars of advice:
1. Dream big and make it happen. Chavez shared that her vision for her career was ultimately to make a difference in the lives of others. In 2011 Chavez created a campaign to encourage girls to pursue leadership roles, called "To Get Her There."
2. Build your team to achieve your dreams. In my both of my books, Become the CEO of You, Inc. and Women Count, I advocate the necessity for women to build a team around them who will support them and act as mentors along the journey to a leadership role. Chavez champions the same idea. She said that when it comes to building a team she looks at individuals' strenghts in order to place them in a postition within the organization that works with those strengths. She said she asks: "When you're working on a project, when do you feel like everything is clicking?"
3. Fake it until you make it. Chavez explained that she never let her lack of confidence show in times where she felt unsure. She was the first in her family to attend an Ivy League school, and the first student in her high school to be accepted into Yale. She went against the odds, and it paid off.
4. Feedback is a gift. Chavez said that she makes an effort to encourage people to provide feedback - in the Girl Scouts organization there are 360 regular evaluations, which come from the internal team, customers, and partners. She also conducts regular town hall meetings, speaking directly to Girl Scouts and volunteers.

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Wednesday's Woman of the Week: Michelle Howard

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


This past Tuesday marked an important milestone for the U.S. Navy, and also an important milestone for women. The White House announced that the Navy promoted Michelle Howard to admiral, solidifying her as the first female four-star officer in the Navy's 236-year history. She is now the Vice Chief of naval operations.

But Tuesday's news was not the first "first" in Howard's flourishing career in the Navy. She was also the first African-American woman to command a Navy ship: she commanded the amphibious dock landing ship "Rushmore" in 1999.

In her speech at Tuesday's ceremony, Howard reflected on how far women have come in the Navy: "If you don't believe today was a first, when I called to order four-star shoulder boards for women, they didn't exist. A special contract was let, and you folks are seeing the first set in the history of the United States Navy."

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus called her promotion a "representation of how far we have come, and how far she has helped bring us."

In celebrating how far women have come in the field, it is important to note the timing of Howard's promotion, which also marked the six year anniversary of Army General Ann E. Dunwoody becoming the U.S. military's first female four-star officer.

To celebrate the full spectrum of advancements this week I also wanted to recognize someone who turned her "firsts" into 50 years of activism. I was watching CBS This Morning as Dolores Huerta was featured in an interview with CBS' Michelle Miller. Huerta has been a major player in the fight against inequality for more than 50 years, and she is not letting her mid-80's stop her. "Many of the issues that we fought and won in the civil rights movement have been rolled back," Huerta told Miller as she led protesters to the office of the newly-elected Majority Whip of the House of Representatives.

Championing immigration reform, Huerta chanted her signature "si se puede" or "yes we can" as dozens of protesters behind her joined the chorus. She mentioned to Miller that President Obama borrowed her line. When the president awarded Huerta with the Medal of Freedom in 2011 he responded to the alledged borrowing: "I'm pleased that she let me off easy, 'cause Dolores does not play."

Huerta may have given Obama some slack, but when it comes to fighting for equality and reform Huerta does not let playmakers get off so easily. From helping the civil rights movement gain traction in the south, to meeting Caesar Chavez, to working with Robert Kennedy, to the present day as she teaches new generations to speak out and organize, Huerta is a shining example of turning career "firsts" into a lifetime mission of progress and reform.

In celebrating Howard and reflecting on Huerta's career, ask yourself: what is my mission, and how can I turn my career into a string of "firsts," and then a history of success?

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Wednesday's Woman of the Week: Mia Birk

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


Mia Birk is a noted bike and pedestrian planner who heads the planning firm Alta Planning + Design in Chicago as well as Alta Bicycle Share. Birk got her start as the Bicycle Program Manager for the city of Portland Oregon in the '90s, and helped to launch the National Association of City Transporation Officials. This week we celebrate Birk for her fierce tenacity in taking action to make her vision a reality.

One reason that Birk is a great role model for women looking to build their careers is that she is exemplary of building a vision, one she takes active steps to fulfill each day. At a recent Streetsblog Chicago meet-and-great she noted that the rhetoric has changed "from 'cyclists' to just 'people.' We're just people. We get around by bike sometimes, we drive sometimes, we walk sometimes, we take transit sometimes. That's my vision."

Taking steps toward this vision, Birk is all about quality action and being heard: "20 years of trying, studying, pushing, sitting on committees, begging, pleading, whining, and we finally said, 'We're tired of playing in this sandbox, let's go create a new one.'

In her own way Birk is fighting for equality, working toward giving cyclists a face and earning rights for them in the city of Chicago through transportation planning and legislation.

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Wednesday's Woman of the Week: Leena Gade

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


For those of you who love cars, like myself, the 82nd edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours took place this past weekend, offering an array of classic cars locked in a race across the Circuit de la Sarthe. At the end of the 24-hour race it was Audi who came out in first, which is the crews' third win after victories in both 2011 and 2012. It was delightful to watch, and not just because of the classic race, but because of the victory for Leena Gade, the lead engineer for Audi. In 2011 Gade became the first female race engineer to win the world's greatest sports car race.

Leena Gade

Photo Credit: The Observer

Gade's role as a race engineer is to be on the pit wall, calling the strategy, managing the drivers, fueling and tending to the tires, as well as monitoring the technical information coming out of the car. In F1 racing the race engineer's role spans for about half an hour, but Gade ran the race for six, 12 and 24 hours.

When The Guardian asked her about how she made it in a male-dominated field, she said: "I nearly quit in the first week of my degree because I went from a girls school to being in a class full of men. I learned that I had to be one of the boys, I had to have the same level of banter, of crudeness, you had to mess around like they did purely to break down the barrier of them seeing you as a girl."

The Guardian also reported that in her particular program there were 95 students total, and only five were girls. By the end of the course only two women remained, including Gade.

But Gade followed her passion and accepted that becoming head engineer was her dream, she said that that alone was "a test of the people as much as the machines."

Her story reminds us that when it comes to equality, we as people are tested to make a change. So congratulations, Leena Gade, on another great race!

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Wednesday's Women of the Week: Women in Broadcast

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


This week I wanted to expand our focus to include not just one woman, but to extend the spotlight to women in broadcast who have made an impact during a difficult time in the field.



This past week, Page Six described what it believes is a "war on journalistic women." It cited that with Katie Couric gone from "Today," with Ann Curry in tears as she announced that she will leave the "Today" show, with Barbara Walters entering retirement, with Sue Simmons out of WNBC, and with Joan Hamburg's departure from the popular New York radio show WOR, the broadcast journalism field is a stark place for a woman.

Hamburg, a radio voice for 35 years, a Matrix awardee, a Hall of Fame Broadcaster, and New Yorker of the Year, was shocked to find that her program had been suddenly cancelled just minutes before she was to take the mic and go on air. She was denied an explanation, and she was denied a farewell to listeners who had been listening in for more than three decades.

But we will not deny her her many accomplishments. While it may seem that the world of journalism is turning its back on women, it is important to cite the contributions that female journalists have contributed to the world of the years.

I had the good fortune of getting to know Jane Pauley, who I lived across the hall from when we were both living in Chicago. Jane has been involved in news reporting since 1975, and though rumors swirl of a younger generation of women prepping to get in front of the camera she reminds us not to count out her generation of broadcasters just yet: "In our 60s we develop a confidence based on the experience and skills we have. We are more risk-takers."

The upcoming generation of women journalists, and women preparing to enter their professional field of choice, are encouraged to be risk-takers now more than ever, as Jane mentioned. Today marks the anniversary when the Nineteenth Amendment was proposed to Congress in 1919. Ratification was completed on August 18, 1920, and confirmed on September 21, 1920.

So today we celebrate women in broadcast who are taking risks to keep the golden age of women on TV alive, and we celebrate the risks all women have taken to do the same for their respective fields, from this date in 1919 and beyond.

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

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