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Earning Power!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Men Empowering Women

I was giving a talk last week to realtors in Orange County and afterward, the men came up and let me know they hadn't understood their value to women and thier impact financially in areas other than just being the household wallet. (Unfortunately, not an untypical reaction).

The female realtors expressed they had not considered their tremendous impact as feminists, being that they have helped women and families build wealth, and they themselves were a rare breed of women in a business whose growth is largely found in selling to other women decision makers and their families. Indeed, the fact these women were in a commission-based sales positions means they have beaten the wage gap and earn more than their male counterparts, according to the Bureau of Labor statistics.

The world needs more wealthy women. Right now, women and kids are the majority of the world's poor. When men and women get together on women's issues, and when men embrace women's issues as their own, the world changes.

Please browse the blog and find the 10 types of men who empower women, more about why men matter to women in business, and what's in it for men if they embrace women's issues as human issues of their own.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Laws of Earning Power

Physical attration and earning power have been ranked equally between men and women in a recent study about what drives people to date.

the article published by Northwestern University states,"But in reality men and women were equally inspired by physical attraction and equally inspired by earning power or ambition. “In other words good looks was the primary stimulus of attraction for both men and women, and a person with good earning prospects or ambition tended to be liked as well,” said Eli Finkel, assistant professor of psychology at Northwestern. “Most noteworthy, the earning-power effect as well as the good-looks effect didn’t differ for men and women.” "

So much for saying women just want men for money, or men want women just for looks.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Women and Men Respond Differently to Stress

This little association of over 5000 members at may be a bridge between genders. It appears that grouping together helps women survive and may be a deeper social response than "fight or flight".

See the latest UCLA study:

> UCLA Study on Friendship Among Women - by Gale Berkowitz>> A landmark UCLA study suggests friendships between women are special.> They shape who we are and who we are yet to be. They soothe our> tumultuous inner world, fill the emotional gaps in our marriage, and> help us remember who we really are.>> By the way, they may do even more. Scientists now suspect that hanging> out with our friends can actually counteract the kind of> stomach-quivering stress most of us experience on a daily basis. A> landmark UCLA study suggests that women respond to stress with a> cascade of brain chemicals that cause us to make and maintain> friendships with other women. It's a stunning find that has turned> five decades of stress research--most of it on men--upside down. Until> this study was published, scientists generally believed that when> people experience stress, they trigger a hormonal cascade that revs the> body to either stand and fight or flee as fast as possible, explains> Laura Cousin Klein, Ph.D., now an Assistant Professor of Bio-behavioral> Health at Penn State University and one of the study's authors. It's an> ancient survival mechanism left over from the time we were chased> across the planet by saber-toothed tigers.>> Now the researchers suspect that women have a larger behavioral> repertoire than just fight or flight; in fact, says Dr. Klein, it seems> that when the hormone oxytocin is released as part of the stress> responses in a woman, it buffers the fight or flight response and> encourages her to tend children and gather with other women instead.> When she actually engages in this tending or befriending, studies> suggest that more oxytocin is released, which further counters stress> and produces a calming effect. This calming response does not occur in> men, says Dr. Klein, because testosterone---which men produce in high> levels when they're under stress---seems to reduce the effects of> oxytocin. Estrogen; she adds, seems to enhance it.>> The discovery that women respond to stress differently than men was> made in a classic "aha" moment shared by two women scientists who were> talking one day in a lab at UCLA. There was this joke that when> the women who worked in the lab were stressed, they came in, cleaned> the lab, had coffee, and bonded, says Dr. Klein. When the men were> stressed, they holed up somewhere on their own. I commented one day to> fellow researcher Shelley Taylor that nearly 90% of the stress research> is on males. I showed her the data from my lab, and the two of us> knew instantly that we were onto something. The women cleared their> schedules and started meeting with one scientist after another from> various research specialties. Very quickly, Drs. Klein and Taylor> discovered that by not including women in stress research, scientists> had made a huge mistake: The fact that women respond to stress> differently than men has significant implications for our health.>> It may take some time for new studies to reveal all the ways that> oxytocin encourages us to care for children and hang out with other> women, but the "tend and befriend" notion developed by Drs. Klein and> Taylor may explain why women consistently outlive men. Study after> study has found that social ties reduce our risk of disease by lowering> blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol.>> There's no doubt, says Dr. Klein, that friends are helping us live> longer. In one study, for example, researchers found that people who> had no friends increased their risk of death over a 6-month period. In> another study, those who had the most friends over a 9-year period cut> their risk of death by more than 60%. Friends are also helping us live> better. The Health Study from Harvard Medical School found that the> more friends women had, the less likely they were to develop physical> impairments as they aged, and the more likely they were to be leading a> joyful life. In fact, the results were so significant, the researchers> concluded, that not having close friends or confidantes was as> detrimental to your health as smoking or carrying extra weight!>> When the researchers looked at how well the women functioned after the> death of their spouse, they found that even in the face of this biggest> stressor of all, those women who had a close friend and confidante were> more likely to survive the experience without any new physical> impairments or permanent loss of vitality. Those without friends were> not always so fortunate. Yet if friends counter the stress that seems> to swallow up so much of our life these days, if they keep us healthy> and even add years to our life, why is it so hard to find time to be> with them?>> That's a question that also troubles researcher Ruthellen Josselson,> Ph.D., co-author of "Best Friends: The Pleasures and Perils of Girls'> and Women's Friendships" (Three Rivers Press, 1998). Every time we get> overly busy with work and family, the first thing we do is let go of> friendships with other women, explains Dr. Josselson. We push them> right to the back burner.>> That's really a mistake because women are such a source of strength to> each other. We nurture one another. And we need to have unpressured> space in which we can do the special kind of talk that women do when> they're with other women. It's a very healing experience.>> UCLA Study on Friendship Among Women> Nancy K. Montagna, Ph.D.> Solution-Focused Psychotherapy>> 301 587-5735> <>>

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

2007Year End

I'd like to forget parts of this year, but I suppose we are trained through our trials. I once wrote that God teaches men through failure. But I'd prefer that complete system failure not take place in order for us to learn. Or also, in the words of B.B. King, the great blues philospher, "When a man is grown, you can't raise him over again."

The goal of Men Matter, Earning Power, and The Wealth Gap was never to change men, but to locate the good ones who are interested in empowering women for the betterment of everyone. But the men who already have the idea that women's issues are actually men's, and that these issues are critical to our families are not the ones who need the information the most.

I look forward to 2008 and the growth of this movement toward social change. I hope others will join and stay in touch.

Last month, I reached out to several hundred new women and men, one to one, who got a chance to hear me talk about all of the ways men I trusted had betrayed or failed me personally, and how it only renews my focus on the importance of this cause. Men do matter to women. A simple truth. I only wish that more would conduct themselves with that in mind.

My best to you and your families.

Rachel Bondi

Monday, May 14, 2007

The mistake of The Feminine Mistake

“Women who choose to be full-time mothers deserve a better hearing,” said Rebecca Mead of the New Yorker when reviewing Leslie Bennetts’ book The Feminine Mistake. The question is if dropping out of work to stay at home with kids is a terrible risk to women as the book suggests, or a wonderful reward.

Bennetts’ book is filled with accurate facts and is actually quite good. But the mistake of The Feminine Mistake is that it is clearly blaming men’s issues on women. In other words, the book is actually a great lesson for men couched in criticizing the victims and survivors of male financial neglect, abuse and coercion due to financial dependency.

The author’s inherent assumption is that the overall strategy of women needs to include giving up on men because men are inherently unreliable in caring for their wife or family. Husbands have a tendency to leave, die, lose jobs, have affairs, and generally behave with financial capriciousness that leaves women and their children destitute.

It’s arguable that having a husband is actually one of the best ways for a woman to have the assurance of financial stability not only during retirement, but also while staying home to raise kids. But assuming that Bennetts’ premise is correct, why blame women? A better focus is toward making men understand why and how their behavior is the biggest indicator of wives and mothers becoming financially empowered or financially destroyed. Husbands have a huge financial impact.

In a 2004 AARP article, researchers discovered that about two thirds of divorce by women over age 40 was a result of women leaving some sort of abuse. Their husbands’ behavior included non-consentual affairs or sexual abuse, alcohol and substance abuse, mental, emotional and financial abuse.

Bennetts dwells on stories of financial coercion or women by abusive men. This is a men’s anger and control issue. Financials must be consensual, equal or not. I usually make it a rule not to comment on what may go on in other peoples’ bedrooms, but if your wife is essentially a financial slave or an indentured servant, your married life is probably not working well. A man’s roles might include breadwinner, companion and lover, father, and spiritual protector. If a man fails by disempowering or infantilizing his partner through flexing his economic power, he does it to the detriment of all, including his children and ultimately himself.

Maybe prince charming isn’t coming, or maybe if he arrives he changes after his wife becomes pregnant and is no longer viewed as a respected peer. Even a woman who is a model of self-reliance before marriage may struggle with dependency during pregnancy or after having kids. It is not a woman’s choice to be financially abused or coerced,

Shirley P. Glass, Ph.D says, “Among the 350 couples I have treated, approximately 62 percent of unfaithful men met their affair partners at work.” Today’s workplace has become the new danger zone of romantic attraction and opportunity, with the biggest threat coming from women who are willing to damage other women by having affairs with breadwinning husbands. “The significant news about these new affairs-- and what is different from the affairs of previous generations--is that they originate as peer relationships. People who truly are initially just friends or just friendly colleagues slowly move onto the slippery slope of infidelity,” says Glass. Even a woman who is a model of self-reliance before marriage may struggle in competition with other women during pregnancy or after having kids.

A married man must be accountable for maintaining his own boundaries against the temptation of betraying his wife and family, the stay-at-home mom can’t be responsible for managing his boundaries for him. The Feminine Mistake would have you believe that wives are naïve or foolish, and perhaps they are hoping for fidelity. In reality they should be able to trust their husband when he made a commitment.

A woman’s choice to work or not can’t stop a lousy partner. A balance of power issue, such as a man drawing entitlement from the principle that “the earner gets the final say,” may be masked or truly alleviated by a woman who earns her own income. But the underlying problem is controlling men who chose not to defend, protect and empower women. Using male privilege, abandonment, intimidation or threats are forms of non-physical violence against women. We need to educate men toward shared responsibility, economic partnership, trust, support, negotiation and fairness, honesty and responsible parenting that begins with respecting the mother whether she makes income or not.

When a husband is divided against his wife they can’t stand. Similarly a woman should be able to trust her husband to financially do what is in her best interest not his own, his friends or his mistress. A couple should be transparent about protecting her and the kids in case of loss of job, health, or life. When done right, marriage is a great proposition for both genders.

Friday, April 27, 2007

My Week with Warren Farrell

My Week with Warren Farrell

It’s the end of Equal Pay Week, and I’ve been spending the week with Warren Farrell’s book Why Men Earn More, trying to follow his advice in his twelfth chapter. The often quoted book is extremely popular with those proponents that believe the wage gap is a result of women’s “lifestyle choices”. As recently as the beginning of this month, Carrie Lukas, VP of the Independent Women’s Forum started a firestorm of blog commentary for her article in the Washington Post wherein she quotes Farrell’s book to support her perspective of self-blame for this nation’s women’s wage gap problem. “I’m the cause of the wage gap,” says Lukas, choosing to be fulfilled rather than be well paid.

So to honor Equal Pay Day, I chose Chapter Twelve of Farrell’s book because his ideas particularly and coincidentally bankrupt for how women can make up the pay gap.

Farrell Idea Number One: Women can make up the pay gap through tips when working jobs that please men.

Much like Gloria Steinem at the Playboy Club of yesteryear, I went over to an Orange County institution---Captain Creams in Lake Forrest---to find out just how much a forty-year-old mother of four like myself could make as a waitress or dancer. On page 199, Farrell implies that women have such an advantage over men in these positions; it is really unfair for the men. Farrell suggests I’ll be making $200 per night just in tips, multiplied out five-days a week for a year. I can’t wait for the money to roll in.

Imagine how disappointed I was to learn that the waitress job is indeed minimum wage, but the job of dancer is commission only! In addition, “You have to have a portfolio to bring to try outs on Sunday nights”, says Rob the doorman. So it’s not really considered an unskilled job. Farrell had really inappropriately set my expectations on page 183 of his book when he says, “Women are more likely to be hired when skills aren’t required.” Also, come to find out that $200 in tips every night of the week is in fact, not the norm.

Farrell Idea Number Two: Women can make “invisible income” because of their good looks and sex appeal.

I’m really excited about the idea of getting things for free to make up for the estimated $700,000 to $1.5 Million lost over a woman’s lifetime to unequal pay. Farrell on page 193 suggests that men “pay” women with gifts for being sexually attractive. There’s nothing wrong with getting a free lunch for being pretty, if it’s actually at no cost to the woman, right? On page 196, he even expands this idea to a woman who has even gotten her house painted for free, clearly having an advantage over males with this female “invisible income” he speaks of.

I took this very practical advice directly to an application in my own home. I’m doing $14,000 of home repairs to put my property up for sale, and I asked my general contractor, Juan, if he wouldn’t mind painting my house for free. He said no, even though I batted my eyes. I asked him hypothetically, if I traded another “job” for the paint job, would it be free then. Juan responded with a smile, “I have an entire crew that would need to be paid.” My conclusion? Invisible income for the average woman is just that: nonexistent.

Farrell Idea Number Three: Marrying up allows for more social and financial options, and being dependent upon a breadwinning spouse makes the most economic sense.

I gave up my checkbook, bank account, credit cards and everything that makes me financially independent this week following Farrell’s guidance on pages 171 and 203. On these pages he discusses how putting women back into the home as wives and mothers exclusively makes economic sense, and marrying up gives women more financial options. I decided to ask my husband every time I needed any sort of economic support. By the end of the week, he was fed up with my requests for everything from Similac to gas money.

“If I had to go to a wife every time I needed to pay for anything it would make me feel castrated like I’d have to look around for my balls,” Guido says looking downward. Good thing for women, I guess. But I agreed with the sentiment. I actually felt like I had fewer financial options than when I had my own sources of income to draw from, not more options as Farrell implied. It’s nice to be cared for, but also humiliating disempowering to be so completely dependent.

So another week of non-equal pay is concluded. I’m certain Farrell supporters will cry “foul”, but I’m honestly tired of the wage gap being blamed on the fallacy that it’s a woman’s choice to be paid less than a man for the same job performance. The real choice for women isn’t available: to be paid like fathers when we are working mothers.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Number of Female Board Members Declines

This year there are fewer women on corporate boards than there have been since the mid-90's. Uh oh.