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I’m Meeting the President about Women’s Workplace Issues

The past few days have been a whirlwind. Last weekend I received an email from my contacts at BlogHer and She Knows Media asking me to complete a survey about equal pay and tax days. The email went on to ask if I was available for a town hall meeting with the Chief Community Officer of She Knows on Wednesday to talk about these topics.

I completed the survey and gave my honest feedback on what I experience personally as a self-employed woman and what I hear frequently from my personal training clients and readers about making it as a woman in the professional world.

On Sunday evening I was shocked to receive an email inviting me to a town hall meeting in Charlotte with Lisa Stone AND President Obama. She Knows is facilitating a discussion on wage gap and workforce issues impacting American Women and their families. I immediately replied…YES.


On Monday I was asked permission to share my survey responses with the media. I woke up this morning with a request for an interview with the Washington Post. Today I’ve spoken to a reporter traveling from the Washington Post and done interviews with two local TV stations. It’s been completely overwhelming and the best day of my professional life all at the same time. It’s all surreal.

Tomorrow I will have the incredible honor of spending an hour with the president as a voice for all of the INCREDIBLE and STRONG women that I have the honor of reaching every day through this blog, teaching yoga and personal training.

Coincidentally, this week I celebrate five years of blogging on this space. Five years ago I never imagined that blogging would lead to connecting with so many women all over the country and in my community and that it would create an opportunity for me to have a forum with the leader of our country. I am so humbled. And so grateful.

I have stated time and time again that my passion is empowering women around their strength, their passions and their ability to create amazing things in their lives. I want to see ALL of us thriving and doing amazing things.

This opportunity isn’t about me…it’s about all of you. Through speaking with my students and clients, I come away with two key messages I am hearing loud and clear.

1) More training and education on negotiating skills.

As women, we often shy away from asking for what we want and deserve when it comes negotiating the terms of employment as well as asking for bonuses, pay increases, promotions and performance evaluations. And it’s common to think that when you do you will be seen as overly assertive while male counterparts do it with no issues. More training on how to effectively negotiate would be beneficial for women at both the still in school level and the professional level when onboarding with HR.

2) More transparency.

It’s a taboo topic to talk about wages. I have friends and clients that work for big corporations, hospitals, private schools, etc. here in town where it is completely off limits to talk about comp and some are told that they will be terminated if they do. They know there is often a gap in pay between themselves and their male counterparts…and there’s also often a gap in treatment and responsibility…i.e. the guys go out golfing on Friday afternoon while the women “hold down the fort” in the office. In the same vein, they are also expected to do administrative tasks that male colleagues would not be asked to do.

I’m excited and nervous about tomorrow. It’s truly a once in a lifetime opportunity. I would love to hear your feedback as I consider what questions I want to ask the president should I have the opportunity. I will share a full report after the meeting.

{ 61 comments… add one }
  • 1
    Kim April 14, 2015, 9:57 pm

    Wow! Who would have thought such an amazing opportunity would come about. I think you are perfect spokesperson for empowering women.

    • 2
      Jen April 15, 2015, 9:50 pm

      thank you. so honored.

  • 3
    Nicki April 14, 2015, 10:20 pm

    This is AMAZING! Congratulations and have so much fun!

  • 5
    Cassie April 14, 2015, 10:25 pm

    You’re so lucky! Congratulations on this wonderful opportunity! I wish you the best!

    • 6
      Jen April 15, 2015, 9:51 pm

      thank you so much cassie. i feel so honored.

  • 7
    Melissa Klotz April 14, 2015, 10:28 pm

    I have a somewhat related comment. Today on my commute home I listened to a show called Radio Times on NPR. They were discussing the 2016 presidential candidates, namely Hillary Clinton. The female caller said Clinton is “power hungry.” The female host asked “why do you think that?” The caller responded “well just look at her positions as First Lady of Arkansas, Secretary of State, Senator of NY, I dont know how she even got that position.” The host said “hmm. Some might call that an impressive resume, not ‘power hungry.'” A minute or two later, after the call had ended, the host read a comment from another listener that said “that caller just set the country back decades, calling an AMBITIOUS WOMAN ‘power hungry.'” I couldn’t believe what I heard.

    • 8
      Jen April 15, 2015, 9:54 pm

      Hey Melissa –

      I could NOT AGREE WITH THIS MORE! It’s frustrating that women are considered power hungry when they seek leadership positions when it’s totally the norm and expected for men. And even more frustrating when other women are the ones calling each other power hungry.

  • 9
    Sarah April 14, 2015, 10:31 pm

    This is so awesome, Jen! Good luck tomorrow, and I totally agree with your two main points!

    • 10
      Jen April 15, 2015, 9:54 pm

      thanks for the support sarah!

  • 11
    Lindsay April 14, 2015, 10:36 pm

    WOW! This is so incredible!!! Thank you for being a voice for all of us, Jen. You are a rockstar!

    • 12
      Jen April 15, 2015, 9:54 pm

      thank you lindsay! xo

  • 13
    Jenny April 14, 2015, 10:37 pm

    Hi Jen! What a wonderful opportunity. And SUCH an important issue. I am an avid fan of your blog and have been for many years. I am also an employment law attorney practicing in Minneapolis. I represent employees so I see these issues every day. I know as someone very interested in this issue I would like to hear ideas from the President about concrete things that can be done to make sure things like equal pay become a reality in the workplace. We have wonderful laws like the Equal Pay Act that seek to bridge the wage gap between men and women but the reality is, as you noted in your post, these laws and initiatives don’t always transfer to the workplace. Also laws like the Equal Pay Act are wonderful but don’t always keep the discrimination from happening in the first place, instead they just provide a remedy for workers when it DOES happen. Even then the law only helps if the employer is caught paying the women less. That doesn’t happen very often due the secrecy around pay and wages that you noted. (Sorry for going on – you can probably tell I am passionate about this topic!). I’m excited for you and can’t wait to read your report afterwards!

    • 14
      Jen April 15, 2015, 9:57 pm

      hey jenny – thanks so much for the very thoughtful response. the president strongly stated today that the wage gap shouldn’t be a partisan issue…it’s simply the RIGHT thing to do to pay two people in the same position with the same responsibilities the same thing. unfortunately, his hands are tied from an executive action standpoint on what he can do to get the paycheck fairness act passed. i will be sharing report on today soon. it was amazing.

  • 15
    JennyV April 14, 2015, 11:06 pm

    Awesome!! Enjoy your experience!

    • 16
      Jen April 15, 2015, 9:58 pm

      thank you! it was amazing!

  • 17
    The Prestigious School April 14, 2015, 11:13 pm

    You will be awesome! Enjoy the experience!

    • 18
      Jen April 15, 2015, 9:58 pm

      soaked it all up…once in a lifetime kind of day!

  • 19
    Joyce April 14, 2015, 11:33 pm

    There’s also often a gap in treatment and responsibility…i.e. the guys go out golfing on Friday afternoon while the women “hold down the fort” in the office.

    Wow all of Charlotte sounds like an episode of Mad Men from 1960. We better get help in there now!!

    • 20
      Jen April 15, 2015, 9:59 pm

      we need help all over the country…but yes, charlotte is a southern banking city and there are a lot of things that need to change.

  • 21
    Grace April 14, 2015, 11:42 pm

    WOW, CONGRATULATIONS! You are continually a strong voice to readers and to the larger public. Thank you for representing how women can be strong because of, not despite, their passions and caring nature. As Hilary Clinton said, women’s rights are human rights. Unless we figure out these rudimentary discriminations, we will not move forward. I would love to hear more from these figures about how maternity leave affects professional women, and how this issue can be solved (e.g. more women graduate college than men, but so few women are in higher-up positions due to taking time off for children). Again, congratulations and I wish you all my best. Enjoy each moment!

    • 22
      Jen April 15, 2015, 10:01 pm

      grace – thank you so much for the thoughtful and passionate response. i couldn’t agree with you more.

      the maternity leave issue is one that my clients really struggle with and it’s something that terrifies me as well as a self-employed woman.

      today was so special. a once in a lifetime experience, for sure!

  • 23
    Julie April 15, 2015, 1:45 am

    So exciting! Cannot wait to hear about it!

  • 24
    meredith @ The Cookie ChRUNicles April 15, 2015, 5:48 am

    This is so exciting! I got that survey, I know exactly what you are talking about. And happy 5 year blog anniversary 🙂

    • 25
      Jen April 15, 2015, 10:02 pm

      thank you! and maybe one day we will meet in person!

  • 26
    Kat April 15, 2015, 6:21 am

    Thanks for representing! Enjoy this day!

    • 27
      Jen April 15, 2015, 10:02 pm

      thank you kat! it was such an amazing experience.

  • 28
    Mo April 15, 2015, 6:35 am

    Congratulations! I think there is a very third important point. More support for career women with children (longer maternity leave, onsite/subsidized childcare, flexible work hours). I am scientist in my 40s and watched many young women drop out after earning their PhDs because of the challenges balancing career and family. This is a great loss.

    • 29
      Jen April 15, 2015, 10:04 pm

      hey mo…i could not agree with you more. i see my clients struggle with this SO MUCH…especially when it comes to the birth of a second child. it becomes too much to juggle schedules, childcare and finances. i totally agree that it’s a great loss. one of the things the president discussed today was the importance of embracing flexible working time given the freedom the internet has offered with working remotely.

  • 30
    Emily @ My Healthyish Life April 15, 2015, 7:38 am

    Incredible! I think your discussion topics are spot on. Also, like mentioned above, support for working mothers. I’m hopeful for a (more) equal workforce when I enter in the coming years.

    • 31
      Jen April 15, 2015, 10:05 pm

      Yes! I am hopeful for that too…especially as I consider a family of my own.

  • 32
    Joy April 15, 2015, 7:51 am

    Wow, Jen. What an absolutely incredible opportunity. I’m so excited for you, and can’t wait to hear what it was like to talk to the President!

    And happy 5-year anniversary. I love reading your blog, so thank you for continuing to write it.

    • 33
      Jen April 15, 2015, 10:06 pm

      hi joy…thank you so much, it was an amazing day…and thank you for the congrats and for reading.

  • 34
    Julie @ Running in a Skirt April 15, 2015, 9:20 am

    Ahhhhhh!!!!! So cool!!!!!! I’m so happy for you!!!
    I got that survey and I had to say no because I just couldn’t drive to Charlotte today. However, I would have blown off everything to meet the President. So cool!!!!! You are a fabulous representative of this community.

    • 35
      Jen April 15, 2015, 10:07 pm

      it would have been so great to meet you!

  • 36
    Shashi at RunninSrilankan April 15, 2015, 9:23 am

    CONGRATS!!! And good luck today!

    • 37
      Jen April 15, 2015, 10:07 pm

      thank you! it was an amazing day!

  • 38
    Callie April 15, 2015, 9:51 am

    congratulations!! You have the perfect voice to represent us women and can articulate so well what we think and how we feel. I look forward to your recap on the event! I hope this opportunity opens many more doors for you!

    • 39
      Jen April 15, 2015, 10:08 pm

      Hi Callie – thank you so much for the kind words and support! It means so much!

  • 40
    Julia April 15, 2015, 10:09 am

    Awesome Jen!! Thats huge and I am sure such a professional achievement for yourself! You are inspiring!

    • 41
      Jen April 15, 2015, 10:08 pm

      thank you julia! <3

  • 42
    Brittany April 15, 2015, 10:31 am

    You. Are. Amazing. Keep shining, girl!

    • 43
      Jen April 15, 2015, 10:11 pm

      thank you brittany! i hope we all keep shining!

  • 44
    Lisa April 15, 2015, 10:48 am

    I find it interesting that there is even a pay gap at the White House, about 13%. There’s a Washington Post story from last July that delves into these issues. I am glad there is sufficient transparency about that. I would love to hear more about offices where the men go golfing while women have to “hold down the fort.” That is outrageous. My fairly conservative office would never permit that.

    • 45
      Jen April 15, 2015, 10:13 pm

      hey lisa…they whole business and golfing thing is just a weird and old tradition. charlotte is a southern banking city that is thriving and growing but still has some growing up to do…especially around gender equality and women’s respect in the workplace.

  • 46
    Amanda April 15, 2015, 12:20 pm

    I would add to your training synopsis that it is not just women that need more training. Male counterparts (colleagues and managers) need to be trained, groomed, and trained some more on accepting more assertive behavior from women in the work place. It’s a wonderful thing if women have more tools in hand to ask for the things we need and deserve but those efforts fall flat if men continue to perceive this as negative behavior.

    Good luck and enjoy!

    • 47
      Jen April 15, 2015, 10:14 pm

      amanda – I SO AGREE WITH YOU!

  • 48
    tara April 15, 2015, 1:58 pm

    i agree with Amanda. I think some of the problem is we treat these things like “women’s issues” and not people issues. I for one am a driven corporate woman who doesn’t have nor wants children. I could personally care less about maternity leave but would love more flexible work hours but because i’m a woman people think i care about ML. The real answer is that maternity leave (for example) does impact us all (men and women) and whether i need it or not i have to manage people that do and manage men who don’t understand why women get “free” time off for 12 weeks after having a baby. I’ve seen women opt out on their own from responsibilities and projects because they have kids or don’t want to work slave hours. They just assume they can’t do it or they won’t get the support so they don’t even try. My point is that we all need to change/be educated/etc and look at this as a change in our health/culture/pocketbooks that impacts both genders, all ages, all lifestyles, etc. I’d be curious….how does a male leader view all of this and what if anything does he see as the responsibility of us women to help ourselves and each other and how he thinks men fit into the equation. I think he has often said as a parent of 2 daughters he is interested in equal pa,y as he should be. Sadly i think laws aren’t the only answer here. I think your comment about transparency is right on – how do i know what to ask for ? how do i know my “worth” ? I think more women need to band together in communities and within large companies and be more open to discuss wages. under the table discussions about pay was the way i found out i was being underpaid. That and hiring people that ended up making more money than me as their boss ! until then i was truly clueless. That and stepping up to the plate (lean in style) are the 2 things that have helped me a bit. I am so happy for you ! What an absolutely fantastic opportunity. Soak it in !!!! I cant wait for the recap ! i really hope you all get to talk about real issues. Represent : )

    • 49
      Jen April 15, 2015, 10:19 pm

      tara – thank you so much for the extremely thorough and heartfelt response. i can’t tell you how much it helps me to read this from someone who is so deeply in it. i love your idea of women banding together to create a united, open front. i love lean in and think that all of us women could benefit from doing more of it. i will have a full recap very soon. it was an amazing day.

  • 50
    Amy April 15, 2015, 2:06 pm

    Wow Amazing! Congratulations and good luck!

  • 51
    Erika April 15, 2015, 2:10 pm

    Congratulations! Looks like you do have a reason to wear one of your old suits!

    • 52
      Jen April 15, 2015, 10:21 pm

      haha! my mom said, “YOU CANNOT WEAR YOGA CLOTHES!”

  • 53
    Jacque April 15, 2015, 4:56 pm

    A pay gap should exist if there is a discrepancy in job duties, function, and performance. People forget that. These days it seems like there is such a sense of entitlement and people feel they should be paid just for basics like showing up to work on time consistently. I’m a self-employed woman (small business owner) and a mother of two children both under age 2. This has not happened to me yet but if I were to hire a woman who was pregnant and had to give her paid maternity leave and subsidize her child care, my business would not survive.

    • 54
      Jen April 15, 2015, 10:24 pm

      hey jacque, i totally agree. and we talked about the paycheck fairness act directly being related to same job = same pay.

      and regarding your small business…i am much in the same boat. as a self-employed woman, i don’t know that i could financially bear the burden of healthcare costs and unpaid maternity leave. i sincerely hope that better government backed options are on the horizon.

  • 55
    Jacque April 15, 2015, 5:00 pm

    Of course I do not mean that a woman should be paid less than a male if she is performing the same job at the same level.

  • 56
    Dani @ DaniCaliforniaCooks April 15, 2015, 5:52 pm

    Can’t wait to hear all about the event!

  • 57
    Claudia April 15, 2015, 11:34 pm

    Wowee, that is awesome. I worked for BlogHer a couple of years ago and I have to say Lisa Stone was amazing to be around. Well all of the BlogHer crew was, but Lisa stands out particularly in my “memory” book.

    Thanks for representing us, your audience and women at-large!

  • 58
    Jess April 16, 2015, 2:47 am

    Amazing Jen, congrats! Looking forward to reading your update!!

  • 59
    Jess April 16, 2015, 2:47 am

    Amazing Jen, congrats! Looking forward to reading your update!!

  • 60
    tara April 16, 2015, 8:38 am

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