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March 15, 2013
CONTACT: K. E. Schwab

Guest speaker confronts 'big boys'

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Ellen Bravo, a nationally known advocate for gender equality, will present a free lecture about workplace disparities March 26 in Slippery Rock University's Advanced Technology and Science Hall Auditorium.

Bravo, an author and director of the Milwaukee-based Family Values @ Workc consortium will present "Real Stories from the War on Women" at 7:30 p.m. The SRU Women's Studies Program is coordinating her appearance.

BRAVO "What I like about Ellen is she is funny, and she presents strategic options," said Cindy LaCom, SRU professor of English and director of the Women Studies Program, who has heard Bravo speak. "She's not gloom and doom. She wants to create a better climate for everyone."

LaCom said women's issues are human rights issues and that men and women students should be interested in the lecture, especially as workplace disparities continue and could affect their careers. She said 500 men serve as chief executive officers for Fortune 500 companies while fewer than 20 women hold similar positions.

Career polarity between men and women, while not a new concern, made news this week when Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg released "Lean in: Women, Work and the Will to Lead." Sandberg, named the fifth most powerful woman in the world by Forbes Magazine, argues that women should "lean in" and embrace their success. She also offers her insights regarding women being held back from reaching career achievement on par with men.

"Ellen is a really important national voice a dialogue about women's mentoring - and the absence thereof - and women's career trajectories, especially in the corporate culture," LaCom said.

Bravo, a long-time activist for working women, directs Family Values @ Work, a network of state coalitions organizing to win paid sick days and paid family leave, began working for 9to5, National Association of Working Women, in 1982 when she helped found the Milwaukee chapter, and served until 2004 as its national director. She also taught women's studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, including a graduate class on family-friendly workplaces and sexual harassment.

Bravo has served on several state and federal commissions, including the bi-partisan Commission on Leave appointed by Congress to study the impact of the Family and Medical Leave Act. She co-chaired the Economic Sufficiency Task Force of the Wisconsin Women Prosperity and is a board member of the Working for Good Jobs in America Fund.

Her latest book is "Taking on the Big Boys: Or Why Feminism is Good for Families, Business and the Nation." Bravo addresses what she believes is holding women back - the "big boys" network who control wealth and power in the U.S.

Bravo will discuss the minimizing tactics employed by the "big boys" to maintain the status quo, which she said works to drive women out of top jobs. Using real life examples of success fights against the "big boys," Bravo teaches about systemic change and getting involved.

LaCom, who has led SRU's women studies program for four years, said men and women students should attend the lecture because it is a misconception that "women's issues" affect only women. For instance, many companies offer maternity leave, but few offer paternity time off.

"It's not just women who are damaged by inequities in the workplace," she said.

The President's Commission on the Status of Women, the School of Business and The Women's Center are co-sponsoring Bravo's appearance.

Jodi Solito, director of the SRU Women's Center, said it behooves men to attend the lecture because a woman will most likely supervise them sometime during their career.

"Men in business need to know this stuff so that they can be more equitable in their treatment," she said.

Solito said she had heard Bravo speak and agrees with her message. "I thought she had really good information," she said.

"I think some of our students are complacent about this," she said. "They think it is so old school and that the battle has been won, and they don't need to worry about it anymore, but all the information and research that is out there is still telling us there is a disparity between what women and men make."

SRU has offered many programs and initiatives promoting equality, including last week's three-day "Diversity and Inclusion Series," which focused on Title IX. The 1972 landmark legislation requires that education and activity programs provide the same opportunities for women and men.

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.