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Yes, women need a space to share & listen to each other's voices

When I was developing the concept for the HERsay Podcast - as with pretty much all of my women-focused programming - it may surprise you to know that I did not always hear messages of resounding unanimous support. People would say, "Doesn't segmenting conversations by gender draw us backward, creating more of a divide between men and women instead of evolving us toward a place where gender is meaningless? "Before feeling called to create women-focused programming I felt similarly about demographic-specific conversations. Doesn't segmenting prevent unity? Isn't blindness to our differences - be they gender, race, religion, ability, or sexual orientation - what we want from society, and doesn't calling out our differences prevent that? Despite the logic of all these questions, I knew in my heart that we as a society, and particularly women, still have a lot more work to do on ourselves, to understand, accept, and support each other and our differences within our own group BEFORE we can move to the next level.

When the Black Lives Matter movement started last Spring and conversations swirled about whether it was more correct to say Black Lives Matter or All Lives Matter, I heard something that crystalized the reason for a need for women-focused media spaces. The quote was something along the lines of, if you don't acknowledge race as a difference, then you deny generations of history that have shaped who each person is. If we don't reflect on our demographic group's generational past as well as our individual differences created by genetics, our upbringings, how much money our parents made and how much we make now, choices about who to love, and what to believe... How can we know what it means to be a part of a group if we don't understand where we came from and the diverse present-day experiences of the group's individual and collective membership? How can we reach a place of understanding, acceptance, and support across demographic groups if members within each group don't understand, accept, and support each other?

A colleague presented a question to me about a year ago, about a show she was working on about the "Queen Bee" syndrome. "Why will some women actively prevent others from rising up (the corporate ladder) when there is so much talk about women banding together and encouraging mentorship, empowerment, and leadership?" she asked. That's easy, I thought. I had just heard Sheryl Sandberg talk about how women have historically felt that there was no room at the (corporate meeting) table for them, and now that society is enforcing the opening of seats for us, women can feel they need to fight each other for those few spaces lest they miss out on a fleeting opportunity. But is there more to it than that? What about mom-shaming and work cliques and mean-girl school bullying? Why do women feel the need to exclude, criticize, or "cancel" other women instead of offering advice, suggestions, or other actions toward understanding, appreciating, and supporting differences? Why are some women threatened by other women's differences? How can we bridge the chasms between us so that our community is the norm instead of siloism?

This month I am proud to launch the HERsay Podcast with the help of an extraordinary team. Our podcast is a place where the voices of women are elevated so that our diverse perspectives can be heard and understood; to enlighten and transform listeners with a new understanding about how different women live their lives, and to have conversations that can sometimes be difficult, but which help us forward together.

Our first season's series include Callings, HERsay Today, Open Mic, and She Succeeded (and You Can Too!). Each episode includes interviews and first-hand accounts, with women sharing personal stories, advice, and opinions about how the world is impacting women today. I encourage you to listen even if - and ESPECIALLY when - you hear a voice that's different from your own. If we only listen to people who share our own perspectives, how can we continue to grow? If you have something you want to say, we encourage you to add your voice to our mix. We hope you'll tune in each week for a new story, a new perspective. Welcome to the HERsay podcast.

The HERsay Podcast is available everywhere you get podcasts. New episodes post each Friday.


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