Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Power of the purse

Next week I'm attending an annual fundraiser in our coastal community called the Power of the Purse. This is a fundraiser for our local United Way. Several years ago, some of our community leaders, who happen to be female, decided to do something about the fact that the majority of people seeking help from our local social service agencies and charities were women and children. The Power of the Purse was launched to specifically help women and children right here in our backyard. Sometimes it just takes a woman to get the job done!

The fundraiser is a luncheon and silent auction. The founders of this event knew what they were doing. The event keeps moving to bigger and bigger venues as the number of women attending (and giving more than $100,000 a year) is growing. Basically if you're a mover and shaker in this area and you carry a purse, you attend this event.

Which reminds me of a discussion VOR and I had last week about the power of women in the online community and the general underestimation of "mommy bloggers" by the male blogosphere establishment. Here's what most of us women bloggers know that our male blogging counterparts should remember:

  • Women represent more than half the U.S. population. (U.S. Census)
  • Nationally, about 32% of all women workers are in professional and managerial occupations. (Institute for Women's Policy Research Status of Women in the State Report, 2002)
  • Women control 83% of household spending. (The Trendsight Group)
  • As of 2002, there are an estimated 6.2 million majority-owned, privately held, women-owned firms in the U.S., accounting for 28% of all privately held firms in the country. (Center for Women's Business Research, projected from 1997 census data)

I bring this up because VOR and I were discussing how misunderstood women's role and impact as bloggers is having. Women bloggers are often dismissed by their male counterparts as irrelevant, which is when the snarky "mommy bloggers" term gets thrown around. While it is true that the majority of successful bloggers today are men, on the whole it's unwise to discount us "mommy bloggers." After all, we probably purchased the laptop and wireless router that most men are using to blog with every day. And we probably take care of paying the bill each month for that high speed connection.

VOR suggested that if a man who authors a highly visited political blog thinks he's having a greater impact on the blogosphere and on our political process than a "mommy blogger," he just needs to remember the political clout and power of "soccer moms" in previous national elections.

Women's blogs may seem on the surface to center mostly on family issues, but if you're a regular contributor or reader to a woman-powered blog, you know that what we're really doing is solving problems, supporting each other, debating moral and social issues and creating a network of empowered, opinionated, actively involved citizenry. But, to be fair, women still have a long way to go.

The only reason, in my opinion, that women don't run more of our Fortune 500 companies or hold a greater number of influential political posts in the U.S. is that women aren't doing a good enough job of supporting women. And women aren't doing a very good job of moving beyond stereotypes to reinforce our roles as leaders. Basically, we need to stop selling ourselves short.

For example. Last spring I was with Beloved at a bike week event in Daytona. (Disclaimer: I ride my own bike and am not a prude.) We wondered into a bar where all the bartenders were women and they were all dressed in lingerie. There were also women in lingerie dancing on elevated platforms. As I watched one of the "dancers," who was probably in her early 30s, bend down to retrieve a single dollar bill sticking out of the mouth of a man in the crowd using only her crotch, I said to Beloved "Hillary Clinton is never going to get elected President, nor is any other woman in this country, as long as an attractive 30-something-year-old woman is willing to sit on the face of a strange man for a single dollar bill."

C'mon ladies, let's strap on the power purse, support and encourage each other in everyday and virtual life, speak up, get real and get involved. Life's too short to squat on a stranger's face for a buck!

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