The look and feel of work for women today

News articles, studies, and personal experience together paint a complex picture of women’s lives in 2018. Women face unique obstacles in their lives and careers. They are also leading the way, redefining the norms, taking risks and confidently re-imagining the world.

Both modern and historical factors shape the ongoing conversation about women’s working lives. All of us are affected, no matter our gender.

And that is where ShopTalk comes in.

ShopTalk is a free program that brings experienced storytellers and experts to communities across Wisconsin to be part of conversations. ShopTalk presenters offer thematic presentations to jumpstart conversations. Last year, 43 different communities hosted 59 different ShopTalk events. From Plattville to Sister Bay, from Superior to Milwaukee, Wisconsinites gathered in libraries, schools, senior centers, coffee shops and YWCAs to talk face-to-face. How cool is that?!

This year, we are offering a slate of ShopTalk presenters who share personal perspectives and inspiring stories about facing stereotypes, breaking molds, and what work looks and feels like for women today:

Workplace Equity for Mothers

Jodi Vandenberg-Davespresented by Jodi Vandenberg-Daves

Ideal workers, like ideal mothers, are expected to be very available and highly attentive. Modern pressures to show commitment though regular and sometimes non-stop availability put special pressure on those with caregiving responsibilities. Meanwhile, research shows that despite fathers’ growing involvement in child care, among heterosexual couples mothers on average perform significantly more family labor than fathers. How might we re-imagine our expectations for a society that supports the work of caregiving? How can the idea of maternal sacrifice be honored without presuming that mothers will fill societal gaps in caring for the next generation? What kinds of social supports and what kinds of familial adaptations are needed now and in the future? This discussion will allow for audience members to express different perspectives as part of a thoughtful consideration of these important issues. Learn more about Jodi and ShopTalk!

How I Didn’t Become a Mother: Childless Women, Family, and Professional Success

Jessica Lyn Van Slootenpresented by Jessica Lyn Van Slooten

Recent headlines have celebrated, questioned, or bemoaned shifting fertility rates. These rates can be attributed to numerous factors, including delayed parenthood, fertility challenges, and voluntary childlessness. Additionally, women face competing narratives about what success looks like—does love/marriage/motherhood signal success? What role does work, and, more specifically, a career, play into definitions of success? Pop-culture depictions re-inscribe gender norms that women must have love, marriage, and motherhood—in addition to, or in place of work outside the home or a career— to be complete.  How do these television shows and films depict working women? How does this compare to the latest demographic data? How does this feed into perceptions of female identity? How is this complicated by race, sexuality, and class? Learn more about Jessica and ShopTalk here!

Starting Over: A Meaningful Career Shift

Kisa Fieldspresented by Kisa Fields

Kisa is embarking on a second career. After working for years as a Marketing Manager, she experienced what she describes as a ‘paradigm shift.’ Specifically, she realized she wanted her work to make a difference in the lives of children. Moving from corporate America, began working in urban communities to identify areas in need of better schools. Meeting with parents, teachers, and business leaders, she learned a lot about the importance of strong leaders and dedicated teachers. She also learned, first hand, how scarce these leaders and teachers are, especially for at‐risk students and communities with economic challenges. Now Kisa is earning her teaching degree with the hopes of teaching K‐8 students. In this talk, Kisa will share what motivates her at this stage of life, as well as her personal goals to help students become well‐equipped to grow into the leaders she saw missing from so many communities. Learn more about Kisa and ShopTalk here!

Between Two Cultures: The Story of a First Generation Hmong American Who Becomes a Professional

Maysee Herrpresented by Maysee Yang Herr

There are an increasing number of Hmong women completing their graduate degrees every year in the United States. For a Hmong woman, finding balance between career, community, culture, and family can be challenging. In this presentation, Maysee shares personal stories and reflections of how she has been challenged by social and cultural expectations, and how she has learned to overcome them. Maysee opens up about conflicts she’s encountered both within and outside the Hmong community and explains how she has negotiated and navigated these situations while retaining her own dignity, as well as that of the Hmong community. She also presents the advantages and struggles of being one of still only a few Hmong individuals in academia. Learn more about Maysee and ShopTalk here!

But wait, that’s not the whole story!

Check out the full slate of ShopTalk presenters! Contact Working Lives Project Director Carmelo Davila with any questions.






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