Former Head Of Planned Parenthood On What Stops Women From Advancing

Karianne Munstedt

Gloria Feldt

Karianne Munstedt

Samantha Samel
Samantha Samel
June 14, 2024 at 9:25PM UTC
“Something magical happens when you set intentions,” Gloria Feldt told the dozens of women who tuned in to Fairygodboss’ first webinar on Jan. 18. Fairygodboss co-founder Romy Newman interviewed Gloria, former president and CEO of Planned Parenthood, who offered listeners advice on workplace relationships, negotiating, and shaping their futures (check out a video of the webinar here!).
Gloria emphasized that in any work experience, setting intentions is crucial -- and she said that she herself is working to build this practice into her everyday life so that she can “focus on the important and not just the urgent.”
“Set an intention to spend X amount of time learning the role and showing credibility,” she said to one participant who was questioning whether there’s room for growth in her current position. “Then set an intention for moving up or moving to another organization where you can be more fairly paid. Check in with yourself and be clear about what your intention is,” Gloria advised.
Gloria is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power and is the co-founder and president of Take The Lead, a women’s leadership movement to prepare women to take their fair and equal share of leadership positions across all sectors by 2025.
She explained that throughout her four decades of advocating for women, she’s seen a lot of progress – and it seems like there shouldn’t be many impediments left. “We have all these opportunities, and laws have been changed, yet we seem to be stuck,” Gloria said. “When it comes to the upper management level, we’ve been stuck at under 20% for decades.”
In 2008, after Hillary Clinton’s first loss in the presidential race, Gloria wrote an article for Elle Magazine titled “Where The Hell Are All The Women?” that prompted her to investigate the issue further. What she discovered, she says, is that “women have a more ambivalent relationship with power [than men do]. Because of our socialization, we’re more likely to see the locus of power outside of ourselves. The institutions we work in were designed by men for men who had women at home taking care of their households.”
That’s why Gloria suggests recreating the idea of power and moving toward a power paradigm that women embrace. When asked about what women can do to get promoted, Gloria explained that the first step is increasing awareness; she said women need to recognize the subtle ways in which their relationship with power differs from that of men.
“The second step is learning the skills needed to navigate this double-edged sword that has to do with what our culture tells us based on our gender,” she said.
Gloria suggested that women who want to ask for a raise or promotion arm themselves with facts. She proposed using resources like Fairygodboss that can help women see if they're being compensated fairly; Fairygodboss' salary database is based on anonymous member submissions and is constantly updated. “It’s most productive to go into any discussion with facts about what you’re worth in the marketplace – who’s going to push back against that?” she said. 
Gloria also urged listeners to think about compensation as a whole rather than just as a number. “Go into negotiation knowing what the other things are that you value,” she explained. 
One audience member asked what you should do if your manager will not discuss your career path with you. “Help him or her see by virtue of the work that you’re doing,” Gloria answered. “If you have ambitions to move into a higher position, or even a lateral move, perhaps a good time to do it is as part of a performance review. Say, ‘These are the things I want to do. In order to do that, I need to learn these things. Can you help me?’”
For anyone who’s currently struggling to figure out the next step in their career – whether it involves changing industries, companies, or roles – Gloria recommends using the Close the Gap App on Take the Lead’s website. It guides users through the steps of figuring out their value and worth by helping them define their goals; it’s essentially like having your own career coach on your computer or phone.
When asked about how women can keep moving up and get a seat at the table, Gloria suggested getting to know people at all levels of the organization. “It doesn’t matter where you are – go ahead and get to know people at every level,” she said. “That’s how you get tapped to do things at a higher level.” Ultimately, it’s all about self-confidence: “No one will attribute more power to you than you attribute to yourself.”
In case you missed it, you can watch a video of the webinar here!


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