AMANDA LAFFERTY ’21
What happens when you bring together three powerful women in one room for a night of thoughtful questions and responses? In the case of “Women Rising,” passionate and often times humorous dialogue on the issues that women deal with when they find themselves in places of power, or, unable to reach a place of power due to their gender.
On Sept. 20, the Connecticut (CT) Forum hosted a panel discussion titled “Women Rising” featuring the the CEO and Co-Founder of Ellevest, a digital investment platform to promote financial empowerment for women, Sallie Krawcheck, the outgoing president of Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards, and acclaimed essayist and writer and has written numerous Op-Eds for The New York Times, Roxane Gay. The event was moderated by journalist and author, Alison Stewart, who posed timely questions to the panelists.
According to CT Forum the event was meant to be a “timely Forum conversation about women’s empowerment, our diverse, inter-generational panel of leaders and activists will reflect on this moment, this movement, and the road ahead.”
Each panelist who attended the event brought industry specific knowledge for the answers they provided, yet despite differences in their backgrounds, the three more often than not came to the same consensus on the issues they were presented with.
The panel discussion consisted of conversations that surrounded of what feminism means today, in a largely sociopolitical context. Stewart posed both serious and playful questions to each panel member in order to generate meaningful and sincere discussion
To begin the conversation, Stewart asked the three women “What the F is going on?” to which Richards responded “I have never seen the kind of power, out-rage, and just flat out agitation among women in this country and it is really exciting,” and following with a reference to Gloria Steinem’s infamous quote “No one gives up power without a fight.” After Richard’s response and applause from the audience, Gay responded with, “Women are fed up, and the election woke a lot of us up that thought were awake but weren’t really awake because a man like Donald Trump was elected president.” Gay discussed the large amount of pushback from women in the United States and noted her happiness that conversations of gender inequality in this country are being had.
Additional topics that were discussed throughout the panel ranged from “What have you observed about gender dynamics?” to “What does a true male ally look like?” Though the questions were often complex and hold serious implications, the panelists were unafraid to add humor to their responses and were thus able to consistently engage audience members with the discussion.
When Stewart asked Krawcheck if the only way to enforce gender equality in the workplace would be for new businesses to enforce such policies as limiting the hiring of white males as many large companies have such ideologies embedded into their foundations, Krawcheck answered that it’s truly up to the CEOs to stay committed to enforcing rational and equal hiring approaches. Throughout the evening, Krawcheck advocated for the hiring of more women, especially in the finance industry and referenced that statistically, women have raised profits and encourage more welcoming work environments than their male counterparts.
After the panelists discussed and pondered Stewart’s questions, the Q&A portion of the event commenced. During this time was an opportunity for audience members to submit any questions that went unanswered during the main part of the event. The questions that were chosen were largely directed at specific panelists, but one that received the most acclaim from audience members was “How do you take care of yourself in the face of hostility for your advocacy” to which Richards responded, “I bake,” Krawcheck said, “I drink,” and Gay responded with “I bake and drink,” which amplified an ease of tone throughout the rest of the evening.
AMANDA LAFFERTY ’21