Karen Lincoln Michel

Michel: Making a difference for women

Madison women are inspiring change

It’s a man’s world, my mother used to say, but women can make a huge difference. Mom was a federal government employee during the 1970s women’s movement and knew about gender inequality in the workplace. Although working women have made great strides since then, they still face challenges in rising to the top.

Women’s issues have been in the national spotlight lately with media coverage of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements and high-profile cases of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct. But there are also local efforts worth noting that promote women and create awareness of their triumphs and struggles.

The WISC-TV Editorial Board met recently with Sabrina Madison, a motivational speaker and entrepreneur who organizes the annual Black Women’s Leadership Conference. Her latest project is to start the Progress Center for Black Women. She says there’s no place in Madison where black women and their families can access resources and build meaningful connections to help them grow professionally and personally, so she is raising funds to launch the center. Madison says she aims to leverage resources to create a powerful community of black women leaders. When black women transform their lives, she says, the entire community is transformed.

The Doyenne Group, a nonprofit founded by Heather Wentler and Amy Gannon, recently started a campaign called the #DoyenneMoment to draw attention to actions that either help or hinder the progress of female entrepreneurs in Madison. The idea is to use the hashtag #DoyenneMoment via social media to call out such examples as a local business story that quotes women and people of color (thumbs-up), or an all-male board of directors in the Madison area (thumbs-down). The group hopes the campaign will spark dialogue and put an end to “everyday sexism,” according to the group’s website.

I’m lucky to work for a family-owned media company led by a woman, Elizabeth Burns. I’m also part of Morgan Murphy Media’s Madison-based management team, comprised of 11 department heads of which five are women. This magazine each month features nine monthly columnists and five are women. #DoyenneMoment.

We’ve come far since my mother’s era, but we have much further to go to achieve gender equity. Still, I think Mom would agree if I tweaked her message to say: It’s a huge world and women can make all the difference.

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