The 1960’s was perhaps the most turbulent and transformational time in the history of our nation. I was only four years old in 1963 when President Kennedy was killed by an assassin’s bullet in the streets of Dallas. Before the end of the decade we saw the horrible killing of two more civil rights leaders - the Rev. Martin Luther King and Senator Bobby Kennedy, both shot down after addressing crowds about the dramatic change they envisioned for our young country.
The innocence of the 1950’s gave way to a remarkable decade of the antiwar protests and the Civil Rights struggle which played out in our streets and was shown on television sets in living rooms across America.
There was the Beatles, flower children, hippies, and Woodstock. The 1960’s saw the approval of birth control and by the end of the decade, more than 80% of women of child bearing age were using contraceptives.
In 1963, Betty Friedman published her book, The Feminine Mystique which challenged the traditional gender roles and with it a full on assault to give women equal rights under the law. The passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, specifically the section known as Title VII, banned sex discrimination by employers and offered legal protection for women who had been rejected for employment solely because of their sex. The American workplace would be forever changed and it was “game on” for women who strived to be treated equally when it came to employment and wages.
Fifty four years after the Civil Rights Act, females are still facing discrimination and dealing with harassment in the workplace. This past year, the #MeToo movement took center stage as behavior, once accepted or at the very least tolerated, became unacceptable and the perpetrators of those actions harshly rebuked.
On Thursday, April 19th, The Lake Norman Chamber’s Diversity Council will conduct its Fifth Annual Women’s Conference at the Peninsula Club in Cornelius. Last year’s event drew more than 140 women CEO’s and business leaders to the 11 am until 5 pm program.
Entitled, “Truth, Courage, and Empowerment: Don’t Be Silent!” the conference will examine the trials and tribulations which have faced women business owners and how they have used their courage and persistence to overcome the critics, building successful business careers and serving as mentors for the next generation of female business and community leaders.
Keynoted by Dee Worley, the Co-Founder and COO of Worley Global Enterprises, the conference has several women who have overcome the obstacles placed in front of them and serve as inspirations to women and men alike.
Worley had a gymnastics career at the University of Alabama from 1989-93, and became a 17-time All-American, a four-time champion and a nine-time regional champion. As a senior in 1993, she set an NCAA record with perfect 10's in five consecutive meets.
Ranked as the nation's No. 1 all-around competitor, she was a runaway winner of Alabama's Amateur Athlete of the Year Award. At the time of her graduation, she was the only NCAA gymnast to finish in the top three in All-Around for four straight years.
Dee’s story is one of several attendees will hear at the conference as speakers recount the challenges they have faced, but more importantly how they used their faith, strength, and determination to succeed in business and in life.
Ayn Rand, a Russian American Novelist once said, “The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who’s going to stop me.”
The role women play in board rooms, government, civic clubs, and at home has changed dramatically in the last fifty years. Rand who passed away in 1982 would not be surprised at the tremendous strides that have been made by women in our workforce and culture. I imagine if Rand were alive today, she’d likely smile and say, “And who’s going to stop us now.”
Bill Russell, President