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Thursday, June 05, 2008

Who's at the table 

Bella Abzug once said:
If men could have babies, abortion would be a sacrament.
I remembered this line when I was thinking about how our perspective about what is important can change depending on who's at the table when the decisions are being made.
Over the course of my own lifetime the women's liberation movement has brought substantial changes just about everywhere, from corporate leadership priorities to health research. As baby-boomer women entered the workforce determined to establish legitimate and substantial career paths for themselves, and as they got a seat at the table where the benefits were being negotiated, we saw many corporations and public employers and unions give importance to things like child care benefits, family-friendly policies of all kinds, prosecuting sexual harassment, equal pay for work of equal value, taking responsibility for environmental damage, etc -- things which, when I was growing up, were either unheard of or considered completely trivial. And once women were running the research labs, we saw some significant changes in what was considered important research, from male-female differences in drug trials to
All of these changes followed when women got a seat at the table. And these changes not only benefited women, but also men. As well, the analyis and rhetoric around the importance of inclusion and diversity were also adopted by Aboriginal people, visible minorities, gay people, and other marginalized groups to advance their own causes.
So now Barak Obama will have a seat at the table.
More than that, he'll be the chairman of the board.
I'm looking forward to seeing what changes this will make -- more than we can imagine now, I think.

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