Joanne Lipman, best-selling author and former editor-in-chief of USA Today, delivered her keynote address “After #MeToo: What’s Next?” today in the Alumni Memorial Union ballrooms.
The event was hosted by the Center for the Advancement of the Humanities, the College of Communication and the College of Arts & Sciences.
Lipman discussed and signed copies of her best-selling book, “That’s What She Said: What Men Need to Know (and Women Need to Tell Them) About Working Together.”
Lipman also served as deputy managing editor at The Wall Street Journal, where she supervised coverage of three Pulitzer Prizes. She was the first woman to attain that position.
Sarah Felder, acting dean of the College of Communication, said the book is a great invitation to talk about important issues.
“The book is great because it gives us permission to make mistakes,” Feldner said. “We are all in it, we all say things wrong and do things wrong. But what it does not do, is give us permission to ignore those mistakes.”
Lipman said the subtitle of her book is incredibly important.
“It’s what men need to know and what women need to tell them about working together,” Lipman, adding that the reason she wrote the book was to get men more involved in the conversation about what issues women face in the workplace.
“Women talking together is only half a conversation and it only creates half a solution,” Lipman said.
Lipman said she did three years of research on the gender gap for her book.
“Every single piece of research shows you that when you have a gender-balanced organization, you are more successful. Period,” Lipman said.
She said organizations with gender-balanced leadership are more financially successful and employees are better at problem-solving, more creative and happier.
Lipman said the gender gap is more pronounced for women who belong to more than one underrepresented group.
“We’ve all heard that women as a whole make about 80 cents on the dollar,” Lipman said. “For black women that’s actually 61 cents on the dollar (and for) Latina women, 54 cents on the dollar.”
Lipman said many people attribute this to the Pipeline Theory, which says that if women can get into entry-level positions, they will naturally rise to the top. She said this theory does not make sense.
“Women make up more than half of all undergraduates,” Lipman said. “That has been true for more than 30 years, so by all rights women should have at least half of all leadership positions by now.”
Lipman said the gender gap has been a huge topic of conversation amongst women, but not men. She said two side effects of this are that men are unaware of the issues women face and women may unintentionally demonize men that should be on their side.
“We have this disconnect,” Lipman said. “A really big problem we have is unconscious bias, we have these biases that are so deeply inside of us that we don’t even realize they exist.”
Lipman said our unconscious biases can be seen in infancy, grade school and college.
“In college, it turns out that a female college student needs to have an A average to be seen as equal to a male student with a B average,” Lipman said.
Lipman said that by the time young adults reach the workforce, the bias that boys’ value is higher than girls is already ingrained in them.
“When we value women less monetarily, we value their contributions less,” Lipman said.
Lipman said gender equality is not just a female issue.
“It’s an all of us issue, it’s a humanitarian issue,” Lipman said. “And it needs all of us working together to solve the problem.”
Lipman said that after meeting with the university’s leadership team, including the president and provost, she is very optimistic.
“I see so much progress and so many men who really do feel that this is their issue too,” Lipman said.
Feldner said the university’s progress is just beginning with the new Women’s Leadership Institute on campus.
“Talking about the topic of gender and women and men in the workplace is a part of who we are at Marquette,” Feldner said, adding that we need to continue thinking about how we support one another and create a space for conversation.
“As a feminist myself, I think it’s important to be involved in the conversation,” Ben Hoekstra, a student in the Graduate School of Management, said.
Alanna Naegele, a freshman in the College of Communication, said she came to the event because she was interested in the topic.
“I think talking about feminism is important,” Naegele said. “Coming to an event like this is a great way to know more about it.”