A Seat at the Table

Jan Wright, Publisher, iBi

We close another year with a look at some influential women who have greatly impacted our community. Each has been a leader in tough times, achieving success while facing the same challenges all women face in the workplace. Each is committed to our region and desires to make a positive, sustainable difference.

This year, our Women of Influence Forum features keynote speaker Bonnie Fetch, a local woman and co-author of (Un)Skirting the Issues: A Guide For The Well-Intentioned Man in Today’s Workplace. She and co-author Jessica Poliner present thoughtful suggestions for “Well-Intentioned Men” to recognize and address the unconscious bias, stereotypes and ingrained expectations affecting women today. And with the recent media focus on issues of sexual misconduct and gender discrimination, it couldn’t have come at a better time. (Visit peoriamagazines.com/woi for tickets to the December 5th event!)

In 2008, we ceased publishing The Peoria Woman after 18 years in favor of merging its audience with iBi. “Over the past two decades, the roles of women have evolved dramatically,” I wrote. “Though the gender gap is still very real, it is less of an issue now than it was 20 years ago.” Today, it seems that progress has stalled—a recent report suggests women are actually losing ground on several key measures of well-being.

Though respected as a hard-working business owner, I’ve been told more than once that people thought I was “cool” or unapproachable: more the “ice queen” than a sensitive, fun-loving and compassionate mom, friend and partner. I realize that I learned to project the image I felt necessary to having “a seat at the table”—even while fending off occasional advances from men and rejection from some of my fellow women.

The Well-Intentioned Man should consider that women are often misunderstood as they attempt to navigate this territory, making the best decisions they can at the time. Being authentic or “true to oneself” can be very difficult for a female professional. I know this myself, and I’ve heard it from my daughter and daughters-in-law as well. “Too young, too old, too pretty, too heavy, too aggressive, too indecisive, too bossy…”—all too often said of professional women, yet I rarely hear the same said of men.

To Bonnie, I say thank you for having the courage to share your story and write this enlightening book. To our female readers, I apologize for having been silent at times. To our male readers, I know there are well-intentioned men among us, because some of you have encouraged and supported me along the way! Thank you. iBi

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