Ellen Bravo Takes on the Big Boys

First Church in Jamaica Plain Unitarian Universalist, Parish Hall.

Ellen Bravo Takes on the Big Boys

Taking On The Big Boys: Or Why Feminism is Good for Families, Business and the Nation

Nancy Pelosi’s election to Speaker of the House, Hillary Clinton’s realistic shot at the presidency, and Drew Gilpin Faust’s appointment as president of Harvard are being celebrated as breakthroughs for all women.

But are the barriers to women’s workplace success really disappearing? Ellen Bravo visits the Jamaica Plain Forum at First Church in Jamaica Plain, Unitarian Universalist to address this issue. In her new book, “,” Bravo spotlights the everyday lives of working women, especially working mothers — and finds that the times have not changed as much as we may think.

The former director of 9to5, National Association of Working Women, Ellen Bravo deflates the myths cooked up by the Big Boys, “those who have a real stake in maintaining gender discrimination.” Bravo calls for a new kind of feminism, one that aims not just at smashing the glass ceiling, but redesigning the building, from the ground up.

Ellen Bravo draws on over 30 years of experience to explain the real impetus behind welfare reform, the low-down on why women earn so little money (and what to do about it), and the advice given by management consultants for keeping a women’s group out of the office.

Bravo deconstructs dominant rhetoric to reveal stark baselines: the average female worker loses half a million dollars over her lifetime because of pay inequalities. Cameroon, Brazil and India offer better maternity leave than the United States. The percentage of female executives is down, and the percentage of children in poverty has gone back up.

Additionally, women are experiencing new forms of backlash: we’re told that women aren’t in the best jobs because they don’t want to be there, they’d rather be home with their kids – “unless they are poor, in which case they had better work at whatever job is available regardless of the hours.”

In “Taking on the Big Boys” Ellen Bravo draws a road map to a feminist future with the framing and organizing tips on how to get there. Its compelling reportage and powerful prescriptions for change clearly draw upon Ellen Bravo’s inspiring experiences in more than two decades at 9to5, National Association of Working Women.

Our Speaker:

Ellen Bravo

Ellen Bravo is a long-time activist for working women. She 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. Currently, Ellen teaches Women’s Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, including masters level classes on Family-Friendly Workplaces and on Sexual Harassment, and serves as a consultant to 9to5. She coordinates the Multi-State Working Families Consortium, a network of state coalitions working for family-flexible policies.

Ellen is author of the new book “Taking on the Big Boys: Or Why Feminism is Good for Families, Business and the Nation” Ellen also wrote “The Job/Family Challenge: A 9to5 Guide Not for Women Only” and co-authored the book with Ellen Cassedy “The 9to5 Guide to Combating Sexual Harassment.” She has also written numerous articles and reports, including “Quality Part-Time Options in Wisconsin,” funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and an article in the March 2007 special issue of the American Prospect. Ellen is frequently interviewed by the media and is a leading spokeswoman on working women’s issues. A business editor once described her talks as “moving, witty and sometimes bawdy.”

Ellen 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 project led by Lt. Governor Barbara Lawton and serves as treasurer for the campaign of Congresswoman Gwendolynne Moore. She is a member of several boards and committees, including the Working for Good Jobs in America Fund, the Work-Life Law Advisory Committee, the Ms. Foundation for Women Advisory Committee, and the Grants Advisory Committee of the Milwaukee Women’s Fund. Among her commendations is a Woman of Vision award from the Ms. Foundation. Ellen lives in Milwaukee with her husband; they have two adult sons.

Related Links:

Ellen Bravo’s website: www.ellenbravo.com

9to5, National Association of Working Women: www.9to5.org

Feminist Press, publisher of “Big Boys”: www.feministpress.org

This event is co-sponsored by: Feminist Press at CUNY, Greater Boston Legal Serives, Massachusetts Paid Leave Coalition, Boston Women’s Network

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