Brad Byrd was joined by Jennifer Briggs to discuss the status of women's rights in the country today.
Brad Byrd - Welcome to In-Depth tonight. On August 24th, we will mark Women's Equality Day in this country, in this world where women are still fighting for basic respect and human rights. This day is a proclamation to those who are making a difference.
I'm joined tonight by Jennifer Briggs. She is the registrar at the University of Evansville and a board member of Stepping Up.
1920, the passage of the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote in our country. Jennifer, for more than a century - it's hard to believe - that before then a woman did not have that constitutional right.
Jennifer Briggs - Right. My grandmother when she was born didn't have that right. I mean, that's hard for me to imagine. She was a strong businesswoman in her life and, gosh, when she was born, she couldn't vote. Just amazing.
Brad - So, much has progressed over the last 100 years or so, but there is so much to continue the struggle that women are having in this country. And we think of the workplace right off the bat...
Jennifer - Right.
Brad - the way the pay scale is skewed. Tell me about that.
Jennifer - So, we need to talk more about it, especially in the Evansville area. What are we doing about it? What are... we've got some strong business leaders and some community leaders in this organization, or in this area. We need to talk about what we are doing. Are we.. where are we making strides in equal pay? What is the percentage of women that are working in the workplace in higher levels?
Brad - And in Evansville Stepping up is basically trying to empower women to get out there...
Jennifer - Right.
Brad - and take leadership roles.
Jennifer - Right, exactly.
Brad - Is that easier said than done? In Evansville.
Jennifer - Not necessarily in Evansville, but for women. Women... women wait to be asked to take leadership roles. So, we need to be... we're out there asking women take leadership roles. We need diversity in leadership roles, we need diversity in our elected officials, we need diversity in our boards, we need diversity in our higher leadership in community organizations and in government organizations. All over.
Brad - And this has been a landmark year the past year or so with the #MeToo movement and that often impacts women in the workplace in so many negative ways. But suddenly things are turning around at least as far as talking about this problem. What's your take on that?
Jennifer - Hasn't it been great? Because we start hearing people talk about it and all of the sudden we start seeing things happen. Things changed. People lost their jobs - who rightfully should have - because of things that they had done. That wasn't happening before. People were afraid to say anything and so now, all of the sudden, people saw others saying something and they're like, "Me, too." And so, it became powerful and I think it's a lesson for any group of people.
Brad - And, and a lesson for men in the workplace.
Jennifer - Yes! Right, absolutely.
Brad - Very valuable lesson.
Jennifer - Yes, right, right.
Brad - Well, in this upcoming luncheon this year, there are going to be some changes. The Albion Fellows Bacon Award is changing this year and there are two awards involved in this.
Jennifer - Right. Inspirational Leadership and Unsung Hero. And I've seen the nominations, we're going to announce the names on Friday. But the nominations were amazing.
Brad - And there are so many unsung heroes. And that's maybe a worn out cliche, but it's a very important part of our society. That happens so much here in Evansville. How would you describe that unsung hero?
Jennifer - So, there are a lot of people in our community that are going around and helping others and doing things. And they're not doing it to be on the nightly news, they're just doing it to help out others all around. There's so many of them. It's amazing. And the person that's receiving this award, when you hear her name and you hear what she's done, you're gonna be...wow.
Brad - Now I know that's embargoed so we won't spill the beans yet on that. Your guest speaker this year is Rabbi Sandra Sasso of Indianapolis, and she has an incredible story. She's an author of children's books.
Jennifer - Right. And they're amazingly powerful children's books. They talk about spirituality. They're for all different religious backgrounds. It's spirituality on the child's level. They're beautifully created, beautifully illustrated, and they talk about real life things that children would encounter. Like, why does ice cream taste the way it tastes?
Brad - And when we talk about children, young girls, and especially their place in society, where they should be, and the struggles that we know they're going to face...when does the conversation begin with a young daughter or perhaps a young niece or a young friend?
Jennifer - I think as early as you can in a way you can reach them. You know, a five year old's gonna be talked to differently than a 13 year old. I have sons, but I have a niece, and we've talked to her since she was growing up and now she's 26 years old and she's a strong woman and she's going to face the world differently than I did.
Brad - Talk about a changing world, there are so many pressures. Social media that affects girls and boys, and even the culture of our entertainment industry still has stereotypical images of young women that is not really helping the cause of an organization like Stepping Up.
Jennifer - Right, but we're seeing some women who are stepping up, and they're saying don't airbrush my image on this magazine cover. This is what I really look like and I'm beautiful like I am. You don't need to make me skinnier. So I think that's gonna change. We're gonna start accepting people for who they are.
Brad - And tickets are still available for this luncheon on the 24th.
Jennifer - Absolutely. Through the 18th.
Brad - Alright. Let's pull up that website if we can. If you want to get a ticket for the Women's Equality Day luncheon, this is their website and that's at Old National Events Plaza.
Jennifer - Friday the 24th. Doors open at 11:30 and it's gonna be a great luncheon.
Brad - Alrighty. Jennifer Briggs, thanks so much for joining us tonight, and continued success with this great organization and it should be an interesting luncheon and a great speaker, too.
Jennifer - That's right. Thank you.
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