Plus, takeaways from the Tippie Women's Summit Series
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Good morning and happy Monday! We’ve got a packed edition today, so let’s get right to it.

Here’s what you’ll find in this week’s newsletter:

Lastly, we’ve included several links to pieces about burnout this week. Are you experiencing it? How are you addressing and/or managing it (if you’re able to)? Send me an email, I’d love to hear from you.

That’s all for now. Have a great week!

— Emily Blobaum, Fearless editor

How can we take care of ourselves?
Throughout the pandemic, parenting responsibilities have fallen disproportionately to women. Stress, anxiety and burnout have become chronic for many women trying to manage it all. Many women have elected to leave the workforce entirely.

Hear from Christina Smith, president and CEO of Community Support Advocates; Sharaine Conner, mental health and addictions therapist at Thriving Families Counseling Services; and Dr. Amy Shriver, general pediatrician at Blank Children’s Pediatric Clinic, on ways moms can navigate mental health strains exacerbated by the pandemic, including:

  • How women can take care of themselves while having to balance responsibilities at work and at home.
  • How we can support our partners in life and friends who may be experiencing similar situations.
  • Giving yourself permission to prioritize your own health and well-being.
Six takeaways from the Tippie Women’s Summit Webinar Series
A screenshot from a session titled "Integrating work and life: What does the future look like for work life management."
A few weeks ago, I published takeaways from Iowa State University’s Women’s Week series. Last month on the other side of the state, the Tippie College of Business at the University of Iowa hosted a similar series, focusing on topics including work-life management, women in STEM, mental health and women on corporate boards.

Recordings of the sessions are available on the Tippie College of Business’ YouTube channel, but if you’re strapped for time, here are six takeaways:

The pandemic has had a large negative effect on mental health

In news that should be no surprise to anyone, the American Psychological Association found that the pandemic has had a large negative effect on mental health.

Key survey findings include:
  • Two in three Americans said they have been sleeping more or less than they wanted to since the pandemic started.
  • Nearly 1 in 4 adults reported drinking more alcohol to cope with their stress during the pandemic.
  • Nearly half of parents said the level of stress in their life has increased compared with before the pandemic.
  • Gen Z adults (46%) were the most likely generation to say that their mental health has worsened compared with before the pandemic, followed by Xers (33%), millennials (31%), boomers (28%) and older adults (9%).

In a session titled "The pandemic and mental health, one year in: What we’ve learned and what can help us move forward," participants were asked to submit words to describe their experience of the last year.

Common descriptions were "exhausting," "uncertain," "overwhelming," "sad," "challenging," "isolated," "transformative" and "stressful."

In her presentation, Kristen Wurster, staff psychologist at the Tippie College of Business, said 1 in 4 essential workers were diagnosed with a mental health disorder. She said company leaders have a responsibility to support their employees especially now, and can do so through clear communication, offering flexibility and accepting that work may not continue at the same level as before the pandemic.

Additionally, Wurster stressed the importance of cultivating self-compassion.

Think about how you treat your friends and young kids when they’re upset about something they did or didn’t do in comparison with how you treat yourself when you mess up, she said. "We are harsh and unforgiving with ourselves."

Work-life balance is a commonly used metaphor. But there are better ways to approach it, and it starts with how you phrase it

When describing how you balance your job and your life outside of work, Beth Livingston, assistant professor and faculty director of the Dore Emerging Women Leaders Program at the Tippie College of Business, prefers to use the terms "managing," "juggling" and "integrating" because those frame it in an active way.

"The language we use is important because it starts to get filtered into the goals that we make for ourselves and our companies, then that trickles down to the practices and policies we put in place," she said during a panel titled "Integrating work and life: What does the future look like for work life management."

Think of separating the two spheres by using the framework of boundaries. Some people prefer to integrate their work and personal lives, and allow work to interrupt family time or vice versa. They may text family while at work, or answer an email while at their kid’s soccer game. Other people prefer to keep their work and personal lives separated into defined blocks of time. This group of people, called separators, use physical space and schedules to keep the different aspects of their life separated.

The point is, there’s no "right" way to balance the two spheres, but what matters is that you feel as though you have a sense of control over how (and whether) you’re able to separate them.

Pre-COVID, offices and workplaces were often at a different location than places of residence. That physical boundary disappeared for many in March 2020, which then led to many people feeling like things were out of their control. When you’re not in control, you experience higher levels of stress, Livingston said.

Thus, Livingston discussed the importance of having people feel as though they’re in control of their schedules again when we return to a sense of what was normal pre-pandemic. She suggested leaders ask this question: "How is _____ helping our employees feel as though we trust them enough to give them control over how they do their jobs?"

Email is a useful tool, but be wary of its influence

Email shouldn’t be used as a signal for how fast people can respond, Livingston said.

Relating back to how you manage your work and your life, she recommended being clear about boundaries and what people should expect from you. For example, "if you don’t hear from me in ___ hours, email me again," or "I don’t respond during ____ time."

If you are a person who blurs traditional boundaries of work and life, Livingston recommended using this email signature to emphasize that you don’t expect others to work the same way.

She suggested: "If you receive this email outside of traditional working hours, it is because I am working flexibly in a way that works for me. I respect the working patterns of others, and thus I do not expect replies out of traditional working hours. Thank you and stay well."

(Another option that I saw online recently was "My working day may not be your working day. Please don’t feel obliged to reply to this email outside of your normal working hours.")

Left: Christine Wormuth. Center: Kimberly Godwin. Right: Simone Biles.
In the headlines
The Power of Visibility in Business Ownership
"I am a human being first. I am a Black woman second. Everything else follows that," Bridget Cravens-Neely says. "I have three grown sons, Black men that I have raised in this country, in this city, in this community. I could not not be involved. Seeing the struggles they’ve endured was my motivation for standing up and saying ‘This has to change, it’s time.’" READ THE FULL STORY>
Worth checking out
We are all burnt out (The Cut podcast). The extraordinary story of the founding mothers of NPR (All of It podcast). Granger family will soon have 3 daughters in service academies (Des Moines Register). She sued for pregnancy discrimination. Now she’s battling Google’s army of lawyers (The Guardian). Could the pandemic prompt an ‘epidemic of loss’ of women in the sciences? (New York Times). Working mothers derailed by the pandemic face a tough road (Wall Street Journal)Zoom burnout is real, and it’s worse for women (New York Times). The agony of pandemic parenting (The Daily podcast). The Diversity Dilemma (CBSN Originals documentary).
Join us for April's Fearless Friday event, where we'll feature stories of women who have overcome adversity and will detail discrimination that persists today.

Featuring speakers:
  • Maria Corona – executive director, Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence
  • Shaimaa Aly – business support manager 4, VP, Wells Fargo
  • LaSheila Yates – president and co-owner, West Sandy Bayou Candles and Novelties

The virtual event is free and takes place on Friday, April 30, from 8 to 9:30 a.m.

To sign up for the entire series, or just for this event, register here. (If you've already signed up, you're good to go!)
A proctor sexually harassed me while I was taking the LSAT
Barriers for women and nonbinary folks can be systemic, such as earning 82 cents on the dollar for every man, or they can be individual acts of discrimination. The systems in place support the continuation of individual acts of discrimination because we live in a culture that is more likely to blame than support victims, although certainly the tide is turning. By speaking up about individual and systemic barriers, we can normalize their occurrence, encourage others to speak up, and educate the population about their prevalence.

2013: When I was 31, I started to believe that it might be OK for me as a mother to pursue a career outside of the home. My husband at the time was not supportive of this decision, but in a move that surprised even myself, I started my master's degree in counseling anyway.

2014: During the week in which I would take my comprehensive exam required for successful completion of my master’s degree, my then-husband (who often acted out when I sought growth of some kind) left me alone with four small children. I decided to get divorced the day I took the exam. It was so stressful that I can remember literally leaning my head against the wall as I took the test because I was physically and emotionally exhausted.

2021: After six years of facilitating healing as a therapist for women who have experienced trauma, I continue to look further upstream, wanting to understand and address the systems that impact what is happening in women's lives. I want to know how we can actually put an end to the misuse of power. So a few weeks ago, I signed up to take the LSAT. I knew I didn't have an adequate amount of time to study, but in true Melissa fashion, I went for it anyway.

The test was administered online due to COVID, so I had an online proctor through ProctorU. My proctor started repeatedly sexually harassing me before and after the test. He commented multiple times about my smile and how it made his day. He talked about how I looked young and used a tone of voice that felt similar to when someone is hitting on me in person. He shared a story of "helping" another woman who had been struggling with her test and how she poured compliments on him afterward. (This is a type of grooming and self-inflation.) The proctor told me in a very creepy manner that I looked like Jackie Kennedy after stating that he was "watching" me as I completed my test and again commented on my appearance.

I was afraid to ask him to stop, because he could make up a claim that I was cheating on my test or interrupt me during it. So I just smiled and produced the fake female laugh that so many of us have learned how to do. The proctor could see me the whole time, but I could not see him. I just heard this voice speaking these things to me and knew he was watching me. The LSAT is not a test in which you can afford to lose focus for even a minute, because its primary demand is efficiency in completing the questions.

LGBTQ Legacy Leader Award nominations open
Over the years, LGBTQ Iowans have had a strong and welcome influence on our state. Representing a wide range of vocations and avocations, they have led with creativity and compassion, solving problems and helping build a state that we all can be proud to call home.

In tribute to such inspiring contributions, dsm magazine is working with One Iowa to present the third annual LGBTQ Legacy Leader Awards. We also will recognize an ally of the LGBTQ community.

Nominees for five LGBTQ Legacy Leader Awards should:
  • Demonstrate a record of public leadership in professional, civic or political roles, in addition to their dedication to LGBTQ causes.
  • Serve as a role model and mentor to others.
  • Contribute to the appreciation and recognition of cultural diversity in Iowa.

Nominations are due April 30.

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