Plus a column on decision-making
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Good morning and happy Monday!

Last November, if you remember, we hosted a virtual panel discussion previewing issues that women will face in 2022. Today, we’re publishing five takeaways from that conversation. But if you’d prefer to watch the panel in full,
you can do so on YouTube.

We’re also running a piece from Business Record Editor Emily Barske, who wrote about how her love for a challenge influences her decisions, including when to say no.

Lastly, nominations for the Business Record’s annual Forty Under 40 awards are due this Friday, Jan. 14 at noon. Find more information and nominate someone here.

Have a great week!

Emily Kestel, Fearless editor

What are issues that women will face in 2022, and how can we address them?
Panelists for a discussion on women's issues were Renee Christoffer, Beth Livingston, Dawn Oliver Wiand and Toyia Younger.
The ongoing pandemic and economic challenges have had an effect on everyone, but especially women. Experts have indicated that burnout and other mental health challenges will be issues that women will deal with this year as they navigate through work and life.

Last year, Business Record Editor Emily Barske and I hosted a virtual discussion with four female leaders across the state. We asked for their insight into the top issues that women will face in the next year and what we can focus on to collectively support women.

We talked with Renee Christoffer, president and CEO of Veridian Credit Union; Beth Livingston, faculty director of the Dore Emerging Women Leaders Program and assistant professor at the Tippie College of Business at the University of Iowa; Dawn Oliver Wiand, president and CEO of the Iowa Women's Foundation; and Toyia Younger, senior vice president for Student Affairs at Iowa State University.

Here are five ways individuals and organizations can support women’s advancement and achievement in 2022.

To reduce burnout and slow the rate of women leaving the workforce, create flexible work policies and allow autonomy over the way work gets done.

The 2021 Women in the Workplace report from Lean In and McKinsey found that women are more burned out than they were a year ago, and that the gap in burnout between women and men has nearly doubled.

Livingston argued that giving women control over how and where their work gets done is the "biggest weapon we can wield against the epidemic of burnout we’re seeing."

"Burnout isn’t just stress. We’re all stressed. … Burnout for me is really a bone exhaustion where you’re doing the same things and nothing is changing and you have no control over it," she said.

Even pre-COVID, women were desiring more control and autonomy over the way they work and run their family, Livingston said. "Give women a choice and trust that they know what’s best for them."

Younger said that in order for companies to be competitive, they must offer flexibility – a sentiment many others have shared and the incoming workforce is expecting.

Consider the real reasons why gender parity in leadership positions hasn’t been achieved yet.

Fearless reported in 2020 that women hold 30% of executive-level leadership positions in Iowa. That rate has risen only slightly in the last 10 years.

Reasons for that disparity vary, but Livingston urged a reexamination of the actual causes behind the numbers. Is it due to individual choice or barriers, like not wanting to lead or not being assertive enough? Or is it because of institutional or systemic barriers, like discrimination or the way the workplace operates?

Organizations must look for these misalignments if they want to change, Livingston said.

Christoffer added that it’s important that women can see a path to success at your organization.

"It starts with an inclusive environment, making them feel wanted at the table," Christoffer said. "What benefits are we providing to make your life easier?"

Place a priority on mental health and work to destigmatize it.

About 1 in 5 adults experienced mental illness in 2020, yet only 46% of them received treatment. The pandemic has only increased symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Women are uniquely affected, Younger said. "We don’t have an opportunity to break down and lose it sometimes because we’re the ones that are trying to hold everything together."

All panelists agreed that in order to properly address mental health concerns of those you love and work with, it’s important to destigmatize it and make it OK for people to come to you for help.

Mental health and well-being are intertwined with productivity and performance, Livingston said. "The companies and individuals that recognize that have the opportunity to create change."
What do you say yes to?
I was adamant that I got the answer right, but the teacher counted it as wrong.

The stage: middle school social studies class. I had received an A, but I wanted full credit for my answer to a question on a recent test. Enter my master plan to get the points back. I asked my teacher if I could write an essay about why my answer was right to make up my grade on that question. He kindly obliged.

I got the points back. To this day, I’m not sure if it was because I was actually right, or if he just appreciated the effort or he just didn’t want to deal with me anymore.

I’ve always loved being persistent in just about everything I do. I see how many things I can get done during the time it takes to warm something up in the microwave. My friends have made fun of me for having a personal strategic plan for each year rather than a New Year’s resolution. I’ve considered timing how quickly I can get my items rung up and bagged in the self-checkout at the grocery store (and the only thing that’s stopped me is that the process of timing would take more time).

As soon as someone says that something has to be done a certain way or that something can’t be done, I set out to prove them wrong.

I’ve always known about my love for challenges, but an activity I did while participating in Poynter’s Leadership Academy for Women in Media in November helped open my eyes to a new perspective on this.

We had to think through the things we’ve said yes to in life as well as the things we’ve said no to so we could identify what values matter most to us. The items on our lists could be trips we opted to take or opted out of. Job opportunities we agreed to and ones we turned away. People we’ve chosen to be our friends or partners, and people we didn’t see as a good fit for our life.

Then we shared our list with someone who didn’t know us all that well, and they listened to pick up on themes. The first thing one of the people I was matched with said was, "It seems like you like a challenge." Touché.

It certainly wasn’t a revelation, but it did make me realize that I not only like challenges, but I choose challenges. I choose things that are goal-oriented. Once we better understand what helps us make some of the most important decisions in life, it helps us better understand what we should say no to more often – because, Fearless readers, I know I am not alone in saying yes to too many things.

Once you’ve established what you truly value when taking opportunities, it gives you something to hold yourself accountable to. Ask yourself these questions when making a decision:
  • Does this help me live my values?
  • Does this serve me in a way I will find fulfilling?
  • Will doing this make other things already on my plate feel less fulfilling?

Do the activity yourself and see what you seek out in life.

Left: Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes. Center: Ames City Council member Anita Rollins. Right: Women's collegiate athletics pioneer Christine Grant.
In the headlines
  • Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes was found guilty on four counts of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud against investors. The jury found that Holmes knowingly misled investors about her company’s blood-testing technology. One professor noted, "Elizabeth Holmes made history as a rare female Silicon Valley CEO and the youngest self-made female billionaire [at least on paper]. Now she makes history again as the first Silicon Valley CEO to be convicted of a white-collar crime."
  • After being sworn in last week, Anita Rollins became the first Black woman to serve on the Ames City Council. Rollins is the secretary of the NAACP's Ames chapter, the former director of Iowa State's Science Bound program and a former Ames school board member.
  • Women’s collegiate athletics pioneer Christine Grant, who was perhaps best known for being the University of Iowa’s first women’s athletic director, died Dec. 31 at age 85. Under her leadership from 1973 to 2000, Iowa sponsored 12 women’s sports that won one NCAA field hockey championship and 27 Big Ten Conference championships.
  • A few weeks shy of her 100th birthday, actress Betty White died on Dec. 31. Quotes and remembrances flooded social media over the weekend, including this one, which White told People magazine in 1999: "You better realize how good life is while it’s happening. Because before you know it, it will all be gone."
  • Pam Wellman, who serves as vice president of human resources at Mediacom Communications, was recognized as one of the cable industry’s "Most Powerful Women of 2021" by Cablefax, a news source on the cable television and broadband industry.
  • Amy Schneider made history on "Jeopardy!" last month, winning for the 21st time and breaking the record for most wins by a woman. Schneider had already put her name in the "Jeopardy!" record books when she became the first transgender contestant to qualify for the Tournament of Champions.
  • In his New Year message, Pope Francis called for an end to violence against women, saying it was an insult to God. "Since mothers bestow life, and women keep the world [together], let us all make greater efforts to promote mothers and to protect women," he said.
  • After two years of delays, the National Center for Transgender Equality announced that it is collecting data for a 2022 U.S. Transgender Survey, which is the only comprehensive study of transgender life.
  • Beginning this year, women’s faces will appear on quarters for the first time. The first women to be featured will be poet Maya Angelou, astronaut Sally Ride, Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Wilma Mankiller, school superintendent Adelina Otero-Warren and actress Anna May Wong will all be featured. The last time a woman appeared on U.S. currency was in 2000, when gold $1 Sacagawea coins went into circulation.
  • American Girl has created a Chinese American doll to be its 2022 "Girl of the Year" in response to an increase in anti-Asian sentiment. The doll, named Corinne Tan, has a backstory of being a powerhouse skier who is building the courage to respond to xenophobic comments.  
Worth checking out
At-home businesses are growing. Women and people of color benefit the most (The 19th). Remembering Joan Didion and Betty White, who showed a model of success at any age (Fortune). An investigation into flawed prenatal tests (The Daily podcast). These female vets were ready for civilian life. It was harder than they thought (The Lily). How Vanessa Guillen’s tragic death is helping transform sexual assault reporting in the U.S. Military (Time). The critical intersection of climate and gender (Sustainability, Inc. podcast). The future of family policy (National Affairs). ‘I don’t feel safe’: A year after Jan. 6, women in Congress still fear for their security (The 19th).
A break from the news, through photos
A red male cardinal sits on a branch of a flowering dogwood tree. Photo by Emily Kestel.
In 2020, I started a personal project meant to be a challenge to deliberately slow down and take a moment to stop and appreciate the details that are always present, but not often noticed. I decided to call it #everydayeveryday — a pretty straightforward title to describe my goal to take a photo (or two or 10) of an everyday moment in my life, every day.

I continued the project this year and put together some of my favorite moments.
Did you miss our series on child care?
Marilyn Wenberg (standing) and Carmen Anstey (sitting) care for kids in the 19-to-26-month room at the Ann Wickman Child Development Center in Atlantic. Photo by Emily Kestel.
Read part one, which examines the workforce shortage in the child care industry and what’s currently being done to address the lack of available slots in the state.

Read part two, which details the recommendations and from the Child Care Task Force, which was established by Gov. Kim Reynolds in 2021.
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