While you were (doubtless) studying on Saturday, I was hanging out with my new BFF Abby Wambach.
Ok, she’s not exactly my BFF because I haven’t actually met her and by “hanging out” I mean listening to her speak at the Women’s Fund event. But I was in the same room and I had a great seat and the rest is semantics. Thank you Girlfriendology for the great ticket.
It will not stun you to learn (and by “learn” I mean be reminded) that I don’t take shorthand. [Do kids these days even know what shorthand is?] So I cannot replicate the afternoon verbatim. But I can share some of the highlights.
First a couple of people from the Women’s Fund spoke. The Executive Director talked about understanding the economic situation so many women find themselves in. Best quote: It’s not enough for someone to occasionally beat the odds—we need to change the odds.
Then a woman told her very inspiring story of making it from a high-school drop out single mom to where she is today.
After that we learned a little more about the Fund’s work and then two young ladies were introduced. They’d been chosen (via a big contest) as the biggest Abby Wambach fans. A-dor-a-ble. Even better because they got to talk about why they love her and then introduce her. She hugged them. We all kvelled.
Here’s what I think about Abby: she’s pretty amazing. She’s not the slickest person you’re ever going to meet (thank goodness!). She’s real. She knows who she is, she’s comfortable with who she is, she knows that All is not Right in the world, and she’s Taking Steps to do what she can do. She’s real and I loved it.
She’s also angry. Angry that she—the best soccer player in the world (repeat: the world. The entire freakin’ world) was payed bupkis and the pretty dang good men (but not even close to the best) were payed ridiculous sums. NOTE: She should be angry. It is not even close to right.
Some of my favorite moments from hearing her talk.
Speaking to a group of little girls at a soccer event: I want you to feel you’re actually equal to the boys—because you are.
Talking about how to make the group more successful even if you’re one of the standout players and learning leadership from Mia Hamm (“You’ve heard of her? Yeah, she’s pretty good.”).
About the 2011 World Cup when the American women lost and having to “find different things to do to not have the same outcome.” Think about that. The best player in the world saying I have to be even better, I have to question myself, I have to work harder, I have to try different things. Impressive.
On teamwork: We have to figure out ways to inspire each other.
She talked for a bit about the relationships we have with our devises rather than each other. Kids are not learning how to connect as people. (Hopefully, there are more houses like ours where no one would dare come to the dinner table phone in hand.) She also talked about the very real problem that what we see on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. is the edited version. We delete the ick photos. Which is fine—except then people often have a skewed vision of the world in which everyone is perfect—except them (enter emotional problems, stage left).
Her biggest message was about gender pay equality. Basically, women not getting paid anything near what men are being paid. Personally, I find it revolting that in 2017 we are having this conversation. Not that we’re having the conversation, so much as that we have to have it. How is it possible that equal pay is not a done deal? How is it possible that paying women the same wages we pay men is not something we do everywhere? How can this still be?
Abby: We don’t have to pay women more. Just pay men less. That will get their attention.
The room was stunned. I think at first we were all shocked that someone would even contemplate paying men less. Then we tuned into the reality of the statement. Yep, that would get men’s attention all right.
I consulted My Friend the Internet. Not only are professional women athletes underpaid compared to their male counterparts, female athletic trainers are also underpaid. And underpromoted (hello, glass ceiling).
Think this doesn’t impact you because you’re male? Of course you don’t because you are a wise child. But in case you’re not sure, it impacts everyone.
Look up, lean in, pay attention. Perhaps right now you can’t do anything except be aware. You’re a college kid, I get that. But as you move forward, as you meet different people, as you hold different roles, be cognizant of what you can do to change the status quo and create a new reality.