Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Women from History: The Grimke Sisters

November 7, 2013

Angelina and Sarah Grimke

Some of the first advocates of women’s rights and the abolition of slavery were two sisters from Charleston, South Carolina, Sarah Grimke (1792-1873) and Angelina Grimke (1805-1879). The Grimke sisters were “raised in the cradle of slavery” and were the daughters of a wealthy plantation owner, Judge John Fauchereaud Grimke. Even though the girls grew up with the privilege and comfort of their aristocratic life, they grew to despise the institutions they were so much a part of: slavery and patriarchal societies that oppress women. As young girls, the sisters taught their slaves to read, something that was highly punishable not only on the plantations, but by law.

Sarah accompanied her father to Philadelphia in 1819, and it was there that she encountered the Society of Friends, or Quakers. The Quaker’s view on equality of the sexes and antislavery resonated with Sarah, and she eventually converted to Quakerism, and Angelina later on. The Grimke sisters moved to Philadelphia, and that move gave them the motivation and confidence to know, that as women, they could make a difference and have their voices heard.

appeal to the christian women

A copy of Angelina Grimke’s pamphlet, “Appeal to the Christian Women of the South”

Angelina published a pamphlet called “Appeal to the Christian Women of the South”. This document was directed at Southern, white women, and it was a call to arms to help end the institution of slavery. The pamphlet was burned and criticized in many areas of the South in opposition to the Grimke sisters’ message. Sarah and Angelina began a speaking tour of over 67 cities, mostly in the North, which was “unheard of women of the time… Angelina’s last speech of the tour, to the Massachusetts Legislature, made her the first woman in American history to speak in front of a legislative body”. Sarah and Angelina’s involvement and fervor on the subjects of abolition and  women’s right lead to a lot of “condemnation from religious leaders and traditionalists who did not believe that it was a woman’s place to speak in public”.

These groundbreaking women helped pave the way for future abolitionist and women’s rights activism. They broke from their privileged, plantation life and linked the struggles of women and slaves in order to create the hope for an equal and progressive future, free of oppression.


C4W Member Profile: Christina Mikolajcik-Edles

November 6, 2013

christinaWhat is your profession?

Esthetician, Master Sugarist, Business Owner

What do you enjoy doing outside of your career?
Traveling, driving my car, organizing things, thinking, quiet, creating a good meal, yoga, making life an adventure

How long have you been a member of the Center for Women?
Brand New

What inspired you to become a member?
To support a great organization, connect, encourage other women and to find other women to appreciate

What kind of impact has the Center for Women had on you?
We’re brand new but already see the benefit of connecting with like-minded women in our community

How has living day-to-day as a woman affected you?
It has given me an immense appreciation for the challenges women faced many years before me and what they accomplished in the face of adversity. “The picture” looks very different now but unfortunately there are still major stumbling blocks, particularly the negative social stigma regarding women in professional roles. I like to challenge that stigma with the strength that comes from success.

What kind of message would you like to send out to women who are trying to succeed in today’s economy?

If something doesn’t work I don’t consider it a failure I simply begin looking for another way to accomplish the task. Think of what a defeatist might do and do the opposite. Find a mentor and keep a list of things that inspire you. Don’t make your primary goal making money, make it about establishing and maintaining opportunities and connections—the money will come.  Do what you love for a living. Then it is not just work. Ask for help when you need it.  Think before reacting. Work with compassion and without presumption. Some of the most intense struggles of my life have blossomed into beautiful gardens and blessings.

How can people connect with you?

Walk at a fast pace beside me.  To find out where I’ll be, email me at

2012 in review

December 31, 2012

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 7,800 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 13 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Long-term care very much a women’s issue

November 9, 2012

By Barbara Franklin

Work-life balance, equal pay, access to childcare – these are the issues that we tend to think of as “women’s issues.” But there’s a very real issue that doesn’t get as much attention among women: long-term care planning.

November is Long-Term Care Awareness Month, an effort to bring attention to this important issue. Long-term care planning is very much an issue of grave importance for women and one they should make sure is part of their financial planning and retirement program. Women typically outlive their spouses, so this means not only will they most likely be caring for a spouse but they also will need outside care as they age.

The majority of nursing home residents and those with Alzheimer’s disease are women. More than 65 percent of all long-term care insurance benefits are paid for care received by women.

Most of us don’t like to think about growing old or needing nursing home care, but the truth is 70 percent of people who reach age 65 will require long-term care services. And the last thing any of us wants to do is become a burden to our families as they struggle to figure out how to pay for our care. Rather than spending time together as a family, our children are saddled with the emotional and financial strain of nursing home or home health care bills. That’s not exactly most women’s idea of aging with dignity.

That means now is the time to plan for the future. The average age for new long term care insurance applicants is 57. That means you don’t want to wait too long to secure coverage. The older you get, the more likely you’ll have a health problem that could keep you from getting coverage.

Don’t put off getting your own insurance because you think Medicare will take care of you. Medicare covers very little of the cost of long-term care.   Most of us want to have choice in the type of care we receive.   Do you want to choose the best nursing home or wait until you have to select the least expensive nursing home? Do you want to be prepared for in-home care or leave your loved ones struggling to help take care of you?

Making decisions now means you can have more control over where and how you want to live out the final years of your life.

A long-time Center for Women member, Barbara Franklin is the owner of Franklin & Associates, a Charleston-based company offering both traditional and innovative approaches to long-term care planning and financing. During the month of November, Franklin & Associates is offering a complimentary policy review of any long-term care insurance policy. To schedule an appointment, call 843-762-4260 or visit

Moms’ Run turns the spotlight on PPD

May 11, 2012

Guest blogger Center for Women member and Ruth Rhoden Craven Foundation Board Member, Holly Fisher, spotlights postpartum depression.

I like to tell people if they are a mom, know a mom or have a mom they should want to support the annual Moms’ Run. You don’t necessarily have to have babies living in your house right now to appreciate what moms go through.

The ninth annual Moms’ Run + Family Fun Day raises money and awareness for the Ruth Rhoden Craven Foundation for Postpartum Depression Awareness, a local organization dedicated to educating, supporting and healing.

This event on Mother’s Day weekend turns the spotlight on the often difficult role of motherhood made even more challenging for women going through postpartum depression. While upwards of 20 percent of new moms have PPD, it remains a taboo subject. The baby books give it a brief mention and many women feel too ashamed to admit the feelings they may be having.

Many people may not realize that PPD can develop any time during the first year after a woman gives birth and it is drastically different from the “baby blues,” feelings of sadness that linger a couple weeks after giving birth but go away on their own.

PPD is a medical condition requiring treatment through medication, counseling, a support group or some combination of the three. It’s not something a woman can just “get over.” A hot bath or a walk around the block won’t cure PPD. But it is indeed treatable and most women overcome PPD and are able to enjoy their babies.

Events like the Moms’ Run are so important because they give us a reason to talk about PPD and to make it OK to discuss the struggles of motherhood. But let’s not limit our discussions to a once-a-year event. Let’s keep the conversation going. Let’s support each other as mothers and women. Let’s recognize this illness and get our sisters, daughters and friends the help they need and deserve.

Register for the Moms’ Run and learn more about the Ruth Rhoden Craven Foundation at

Women are the solution

March 23, 2012

Guest blogger Center for Women member and SC Women’s Business Center Advisory Council Member, Holly Fisher, recaps columnists talk on women’s rights.

Women hold up half the sky.

– Chinese saying

Among the grim stories of how women and girls around the world face abuse, discrimination and a life as second-class citizens, there are stories of hope. I left with that message after hearing Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Nicholas Kristof speak at a luncheon yesterday put on by the Center for Women here in Charleston.

Kristof is the author of “Half The Sky,” a book about how to turn oppression into opportunity for women worldwide. His talk fell in line with Women’s History Month and this year’s theme of education and empowerment for women.

A long-time reporter for The New York Times, Kristof has spent years reporting on foreign countries and many of the atrocities against women. It’s no secret females in China face an uphill battle. Kristof recounted a story from 1990 in which a young girl had to drop out of school in sixth grade, despite being at the top of her class. The $13 in school fees just weren’t a priority for her parents.

Kristof reported on this girl, and NYT readers responded with donations that were used to subsidize school fees for girls in this small Chinese village – provided the girls maintained good grades.

That sixth grade girl went to get an accounting degree and eventually start her own accounting firm. She was able to share the money she made with family members who went on to start businesses as well. The entire village prospered — all because girls were afforded an education.

Those are stories of hope. But for each story like that, there are countless stories, statistics and sadness that represent what Kristof calls “the central moral challenge of the 21st century: the inequitable treatment of women and girls around the world.”

So what is the answer? Education and empowerment. As Kristof said, “We have to educate girls and bring those women in the work force. Women and girls aren’t the problem but the solution.”

One significant issue facing women around the world — and even here in the United States is sex trafficking. Girls are often kidnapped and forced to work in brothels. In 2004, Kristof “purchased” two girls from brothels and returned them to their villages. The cost for both girls was about $350. But the price wasn’t even most disturbing to Kristof, it was that he received a receipt.

“When you get a receipt in the 21st century for buying another human being that should be a disgrace on the entire world,” he said.

It’s hard to even imagine living your life as a piece of property. I’ve certainly never been sold. I’ve never been denied proper medical treatment or an education because I’m a woman. All of us in that room yesterday are fortunate and because of that, we need to do our part to ensure women here at home and around the globe have the same rights, opportunities and chance to fulfill their dreams as we do.

How can you help?

Check out Kristof’s book “Half the Sky” and his website at for resources and ways to get involved.

The website regularly has advertisements for young girls who are part of this sex trafficking problem. The site is owned by Village Voice Media and you can put pressure on the company to stop running these ads. Encourage their legitimate advertisers to drop their ads, which hits the company where it hurts most – the bottom line. Also, visit to sign the petition against the Village Voice.

Skill-Building for Local Women Leaders

February 3, 2012

Nearly 47 percent of South Carolina organizations have no women in decision-making roles according to a 2008 report by Clemson University’s Arthur M. Spiro Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership. To prepare more women to step into decision-making roles, the Charleston, S.C. Center for Women has launched a new Women’s Leadership Institute. The Institute is designed to teach Lowcountry women the skills and strategies necessary to become capable leaders. The Center for Women, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization and the only comprehensive women’s development center in South Carolina, focuses on making personal and professional success an everyday event for women in the Lowcountry.

“A report from Catalyst, a research organization specializing in expanding opportunities for women and business, reveals that companies having more women in their leadership team have a 34 percent higher return to shareholders,” says Jennet Robinson Alterman, Executive Director of the Center for Women. “Business, government and communities all face a multitude of critical issues and need a pool of women leaders and decision-makers who can resolve pertinent issues and help deliver improved financial performance. We believe the Center can play a key role in equipping local women with the right mix of knowledge, skills and abilities to help prepare them for these positions.”

National research into women in business conducted by Braithwaite Innovation Group, a local professional development organization, shows that business women skilled in communications, negotiations, conflict resolution, and general leadership abilities are better positioned to assume more responsibility. I found the Lowcountry full of professional and executive women – educators, entrepreneurs and former Fortune 100 company executives – who have these skills and who are willing to pay it forward to improve the status of women in South Carolina.  We have designed the Women’s Leadership Institute sessions to be highly interactive, using discussion, practical application, assessments and experiential exercises. Our goal is maximizing learning about leading oneself, leading others and leading within organizations.

This is the first intensive skill development program offered by the Center for Women. Topics covered in the monthly sessions will assist local women in building a wide array of leadership skills as well as gaining a broader and deeper business perspective for their increased workplace, community, home and personal effectiveness. Women can choose to take as many or as few classes as their schedule permits. Each course adds value as a stand-alone session or as part of a comprehensive year-long program. Based on feedback from recent Center for Women program and event participants, the women’s leadership classes will be held Saturday mornings, starting at 9:30 a.m. and will run for three hours.

For companies in the tri-county area who may not have learning and development opportunities or personnel in-house, this program provides them with affordable access to resources that would cost tens of thousands of dollars to create and deliver. “A Women’s Leadership Development study conducted in December 2011 by Mercer Consulting revealed that 71 percent of firms do not have a clearly defined plan for developing women for leadership roles,” noted Doretha Walker, past president of the Center for Women board of directors and also a leadership program faculty member. “This new program will provide a distinct cost effective advantage for Lowcountry employers looking to get ahead of the curve in training their female employees.”

For more information and to enroll, visit the Center for Women’s website at

Jane Perdue is a leadership and women’s issues consultant, speaker, writer, and Principal, Braithwaite Innovation Group, a Charleston. S.C. based female-owned professional and organizational development company.

Originally appeared in CharlestonCurrents on Monday, January 16, 2012.

2011 in review

January 1, 2012

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 6,800 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

In Memory of Kimberlee Shonk

October 7, 2011

Last January Kimberlee Shonk, age 20, died as a result of ovarian cancer.  She was a College of Charleston student, a biology major with a 3.7 GPA and with plans to attend medical school.   Kimberlee attended Wando High School and was a proud member of the Wando Marching Band.  She was an intelligent, articulate, beautiful young woman with a great sense of humor.  Recently her college friends sent me their recollections of Kimberlee —

  • She taught me so much about living and how to enjoy life.
  • Seeing her walk down a busy street;   it was like the sea parted for her with her beautiful long blond hair and flowing skirt.
  • She coined the word “Swooztastic” to define the joys of life.
  • She never lived in fear of dying.

Although we were separated by 40 years in age, we were sisters in ovarian cancer.  Sitting in my office with our bald heads we compared notes on chemotherapy and talked about the lack of a reliable test to detect ovarian cancer.    Both of us wondered how we could have had an earlier diagnosis.   What symptoms did we ignore?   What should we have done differently?  Kimberlee was diagnosed with a rare aggressive cancer in the spring of 2009.  I was diagnosed with stage III peritoneal  ovarian cancer at the same time.   Each year, over 20,000 women are diagnosed  and about 15,000 women die as a result of ovarian cancer.   The symptoms:  bloating, abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly and urinary frequency or urgency, are common and often ignored.   Kimberlee sent me an email last September 2010 as we were preparing events for Ovarian Cancer month.  She included her symptoms, bloating and pain in the abdomen, in hopes that by sharing them she would encourage other women to pay attention and “listen to their bodies.”

Ovarian Cancer occurs more often in older women; however, it can attack women of all ages.   For this reason, the Center for Women’s  Lowcountry Women With Wings organization in conjunction with the School of Education, Health, and Human Performance at the College of Charleston hosted “Teal Day” at the College on September 30th, the last day of  Ovarian Cancer Month.   Teal is the color to recognize ovarian cancer awareness and all students, faculty and staff were encouraged to wear teal not only to bring awareness of ovarian cancer, but,  most importantly,  in memory of Kimberlee Shonk, a member of the College of Charleston family. “Teal Day” included distribution of ovarian cancer information and a “Breaking the Silence” event at 11:55 am in the Cougar Mall.

Another awareness event was held at the MUSC horseshoe on Sept. 27 with the Pink Fire Trucks that travel the country promoting awareness about cancers that strike women. Lowcountry Women with Wings was there as well with a teal convertible!

The goal of Lowcountry Women with Wings is to Rise Above Ovarian Cancer by educating our community about the symptoms.  Kimberlee wanted to tell her story with the hope that she could encourage other young women to listen to their bodies, have regular check-ups and to attack this silent killer.

Sue Sommer-Kresse, PhD

Charleston, South Carolina

Half of Well-Educated Charleston Women Have Experienced Wage Discrimination

September 15, 2011

Wage Gap is the term used to describe the difference between men’s and women’s salaries. Study after study has repeatedly shown that even when the variables that influence salary such as education and experience are controlled, the wage gap persists. In South Carolina, women earn 78 cents for every dollar a man makes (American Community Survey 2009 Women work 16 months to earn what a man makes doing the same job in twelve.

The wage gap is a statistical fact, but we wondered whether local women actually believe that they have been paid less because of their gender. Over 100 women replied to our Center for Women survey. Our survey sample was not scientifically drawn, but it does paint a picture that well-educated, local women have personally experienced pay inequity. The majority of survey respondents had attended college or graduate school and about one-third each were between the ages of 20 to 35, 35 to 50 and over 50.

Out of 106 women, 51% stated that they had been paid less than male colleagues in a similar position even though they could not prove it. When asked to rate their pay inequity situation on a 5-point scale from subtle bias to overt discrimination, the results were spread evenly across the range. About 40% leaned toward describing their situation as subtle bias, 40% leaned toward overt discrimination and 20% were in between.  No less disturbing, 39% believed that they had been skipped over or denied a promotion because they were a woman and 14% held the opinion that they had been let go, fired or severed because of their gender.

When queried as to whether or not they had discussed the situation with their employer, the following verbatim comments characterize their positions, “I’ve spoken to my immediate supervisor, who basically blew me off. I’m afraid to take it higher for fear of losing my job if it appears I’m complaining;” “This is a right to work state and there are too many other people that would take my job and not complain;” “I did [discuss the situation] and have since been treated poorly;” “I could not prove it;” “ I saw [salaries] by accident and didn’t want it to be a problem;” “I need to keep the job, so I keep my mouth shut!” “State budget cuts make it unlikely that the situation could be resolved even if I were to convince them that the pay grade was unfair;” “I don’t want to rock the boat;” “I attempted to discuss and was shot down. Now I’m a trouble maker;” “There was no resolution in my favor. In fact, I was let go;” “Hard to prove and unfavorable outcome feared especially as an African American.”

Why should men care?  

Women’s salaries no longer pay for extras or the nice-to-have of family life. Women’s earnings are essential to supporting families. In married households, women’s income typically accounts for 36% of the total family income and about one-third of employed mothers are the sole breadwinners for the family. (US Senate Joint Economic Committee 2010 Invest in Women, Invest in America: A Comprehensive Review of Women in the US Economy.) Fair pay for women translates to fairness for families and a more economically stable environment for children. I would ask men, “do you believe that your hard-working wife, mother or daughter with equal skills and ability should be paid less than her male peers?” Don’t you want to see her appreciated, paid fairly and not undervalued?

What can be done?

The wage gap is an injustice that deserves attention from the business community and all employers. We should not be afraid to acknowledge its existence and talk about its consequences. When the opportunity presents itself, middle management and executive women should raise the issue within their organizations and press for Human Resource policies and procedures that seek pay equity. Understanding that some pay inequity is due to subtle cultural bias and not in your face gender discrimination, open discussion and dialogue can do much to increase awareness of how widespread the practice really is and how unfair to families it is.

Women on their part can learn to be better salary negotiators. Men are much more likely to negotiate their pay than women. Women are not as comfortable with self-promotion and do not like to be perceived as pushy. Yes, the job market is very tough today and many of us are simply thankful to be working, but fair pay is a goal we should all be working toward.

Ginger Rosenberg is the Marketing Coordinator of the Center for Women. The Center for Women is a local, non-profit organization providing job counseling and job search workshops as well as programs on negotiation skills. Contact the Center for Women at     

%d bloggers like this: