Setting Priorities the Eisenhower Way

Working moms have many priorities that take over their everyday lives. Prioritizing time is crucial because for most moms, balancing work, kids, and everyday tasks can seem impossible. Setting priorities is a great way to make it clear what you need to do to make the most of your time. 

The first step to setting priorities is deciding what needs to be done and what is most important to you. A great way to organize your priorities and figure this out is to use the Eisenhower Quadrant method. This method not only helps you visualize your priorities, it gives you a smart way to triage your activities according to their level of importance and sense urgency. 

The Eisenhower Quadrant is broken up into four sections: 

  1. Urgent and Important – the first quadrant contains tasks that are most urgent and important to you, like getting your quarterly team report done in time for the staff meeting. Do these tasks first, as efficiently as possible. 
  2. Not Urgent but Important – The second quadrant contains tasks that are not necessarily urgent, but they are certainly important to you, such as requesting a mentor. Make sure you make time for these by blocking time on your calendar, otherwise they tend to slip perpetually. 
  3. Urgent but Not Important – The third quadrant contains tasks that are urgent but not important, like when your partner asks you to pick up his or her dry-cleaning needed for their trip tomorrow. These tasks are best delegated or declined when possible. 
  4. Not Urgent and Not Important – The last quadrant contains tasks that are not urgent and not important, such as lingering on social media. Do your best to eliminate these. 
from Mental Models for Software Engineers

By deciding what is the most important and determining the sense of urgency, you can delay and even eliminate certain tasks that felt imperative before using the quadrant to evaluate them. 

Setting priorities makes life easier and more rewarding for everyone, especially for working mothers. By using the Eisenhower Quadrant, every day can be a little less stressful and a lot more purposeful. 

Contributed by Carrie Davis. 

Women in Manufacturing

During WWII, 30% of manufacturing jobs were held by women. Though women make up half of the workforce, they still account for just one-third of manufacturing jobs. At a time when manufacturers are facing critical challenges finding skilled workers–a pre-pandemic 2019 study by Gallup put the shortage at 2 million–women might just be the answer to closing the gap.

Women who do join the field are seeing that it is very possible to thrive in a manufacturing environment. We interviewed Tania Terry, a Momentum alumnae, who is currently a senior staff engineer at Honda Development and Manufacturing of America.

Tania Terry

Tania is responsible for the business plan development and execution activities for the Honda automotive plants across North America. Specifically, the business plan developments provide the operating direction of the company in relation to production plans for vehicle production, manufacturing efficiencies, resource management, human capital, logistics, and physical space to ensure the company’s operational priorities are met.

A little background about Tania:  she graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.  Tania started as a Supplier Quality Engineer working with suppliers across the nation on ensuring that the parts that went into their vehicles met the design specifications. This led to an opportunity to lead Export Market Certification and homologation processes for specific models of Honda vehicles, and finally to developing business plans for Honda manufacturing plants. 

A Honda Manufacturing of Alabama associate assembles an all-new 2019 Honda Passport for the start of mass production. photo cred: Honda Manufacturing

When asked about the biggest misconceptions women have about working in manufacturing, Tania shared that most people assume working in manufacturing is hard physical labor and a dirty environment. This is not always true. Tania works in a highly technological, pristine, advanced manufacturing facility that has thousands of jobs that do not require heavy physical labor. 

For women thinking about entering the field of Manufacturing, Tania  says “go for it!”  There is something especially gratifying about literally seeing the result of your work. Manufacturing is an ever-evolving field, giving women the opportunity to create products and processes to improve our lives and our world. 

Contributed by Carrie Davis

 

Mini-Medical School: Alzheimers

No matter what your age, chances are you know or will know a family member or neighbor with Alzheimer’s in your lifetime. Alzheimer’s is a neurologic disease that affects memory in the brain. On August 31st, UAB Medicine hosted a webinar discussing Alzheimer’s and how it is diagnosed along with how UAB Medicine is working toward learning more about the terrible disease.

The webinar started with Erik Roberson, MD, PhD who discussed what Alzheimer’s disease is and risk factors associated with the disease. Aging is the strongest risk factor for Alzheimer’s along with gene variants and amyloid hypothesis. Alongside risk factors, Roberson also discussed how we diagnose Alzheimer’s disease through the use of biomarkers.

UAB Medicine recently started a new exploratory Alzheimer’s disease research center that looks at the risk of Alzheimer’s based on where someone was born as more people in the deep south are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Along with the new exploratory research center, UAB Medicine has also started a new study called the “BAMS”(Brain Aging & Memory in the South) study. Volunteers who live in the deep south will come in for cognitive testing, MRI, amyloid and tau PET, as well as other tests.

Other speakers such as Suzanne Lapi, MD, PhD, Jonathan McConathy, MD, PhD, and David Geldmacher, MD, spoke on a variety of other factors that affect Alzheimer’s such as advanced imaging facility and cyclotron facility at UAB Medicine, nuclear medicine imaging study, and emerging therapies and memory clinic services.

We were interested in speaking with Momentum alum, Teresa Shufflebarger, who has first hand experience with Alzheimer’s disease and has shared some insight into how it can affect someone’s life. Teresa is currently the Chief Administrative Officer for Live HealthSmart Alabama, an initiative seed funded and incubated at UAB Medicine to create partnerships working collaboratively to decrease the incidence of chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Her relationship with Alzheimer’s disease is through her stepmother who is in the late stage of Alzheimer’s, having been diagnosed over ten years ago. When asked how Alzheimer’s has personally impacted her life she discussed how Alzheimer’s can affect the lives of each and every family member as you care for the patient but also care for the primary caregiver. Each new day is the best that you will see for your loved one due to the degenerative nature of the disease.

Teresa left us with some important advice on caring for someone with Alzheimer’s. “Find support where you can.  Do not be embarrassed to let friends and acquaintances know of the struggles you are encountering.  You can’t believe how people want to help and want to support you.”

Contributed by Carrie Davis

Tips for Working Moms

 

Anne Marie Seibel, pictured here with her daughter at the last Momentum conference.

For working moms, busy is an understatement–especially with the added pressures and uncertainties of the pandemic. The truth is that moms have two full-time jobs, and one of them is 24/7. Moms have some pretty stressful demands on their time, with a constant pinging from bosses, spouse, kids and parents throughout the day. Having even 15 minutes a day to be still, to breathe, feels like a luxury. 

“While there is no such thing as work life balance, there is work life management,” said Momentum CEO April Benetollo. “It’s called maximizing limited resources to meet desired outcomes, just like you would do on the job. The difference with work and life is that sometimes we don’t look at those objectives together. When we separate them in our heads, and then try to ‘balance’ the resources, we can’t make that square up.” April was introduced to the idea of work-life management by her Momentum classmate, attorney Anne Marie Seibel at Bradley. Anne Marie has a published essay on the topic in Her Story: Lessons in Success From Lawyers Who Live It

As chaotic as being a working mom is, here are some tips to help make every day easier.

Set up a schedule 

Making a schedule for the everyday creates a system that is easy to follow. Understanding where you are supposed to be at a specific time takes a little bit of stress out of the day and week. Planning a schedule also makes the time for you to do things you want, and actually do it. Being able to physically see your schedule for the week helps you visualize which days would be better for what and how you can get everything done in the week. 

Create simple chores for the kids

After a day at work the last thing you want to do is household chores such as doing the dishes or taking out the trash. A way to get help with these tasks is to assign certain chores to your kids. Young children can pick up toys or tidy their room while older children can do things like the laundry or cleaning the bathroom. A way to make this fun for the kids is creating a chores chart and earning a fun sticker for every time they complete a chore. When they get a certain number of stickers, they can win a prize. 

Prep or plan meals

Having meals prepped or planned is a great way to save some time throughout the week. At the beginning of the week, cook however many meals you please and put them in the freezer. After work just simply heat up the meal in the oven, stove, etc… and dinner is ready. If you prefer not to meal prep, simply planning out meals to make every week is also a great way to save time. 

Befriend other working moms

Having a good support system is imperative as a working mom. It might get hard to see your friends who stay at home with their kids doing activities you wish you could do too. It is important to connect with other working moms because they are the people who understand what your day-to-day life demands. Having these connections to women who can relate and offer ideas or resources is not only therapeutic, it’s practical. 

Set boundaries

Setting boundaries as a working mom is a must. Managing your time between your kids, work, and social life can be tricky. Speaking with your family about what you need is a great way to set boundaries between work and home life. Setting boundaries can also mean blocking out personal distractions when you are at work or turning off your work phone when you are with your kids. Being able to say no and set the boundaries you need is empowering and can make you feel more in control.  

 

Can a Mentor Help You Get Promoted?

by Mindy Santo, Mentoring Coordinator

Only four months after ending her mentoring match, Mentee Leema Lutfi accomplished her top priority in requesting a Mentor: she was promoted!

Momentum loves to celebrate the women in our network! Congratulations to Mentee, Leema Lutfi, for her promotion to Program Coordinator II at UAB Medicine. In late October Leema was matched with “her perfect Mentor,” Monique Shorts. Monique provided the structure and guidance Leema needed to help her reach her goals. Leema committed to the work and followed Monique’s guidance. Leema was the perfect example of a successful Mentee. 

 

Leema shared the following priorities in her “Request for a Mentor”:

  • Be promoted within the year 
  • Overcome frustrations related to her accent 
  • Learn to manage conflicts professionally and personally 

As she and Monique were wrapping up their relationship, Leema shared her tips on how to maximize your time with a mentor: 

First, focus on a few specific things:

  • Leema learned how to manage conflicts and confrontations productively. Monique helped her develop a technique for approaching conflict that resulted in better outcomes. Leema gained more confidence, which was reflected in her meetings at work as well as in her personal life.
  • Monique helped Leema develop and practice her “elevator speech” so that she could easily articulate her value to others. 
  • Leema struggled with her accent. Monique helped her embrace her accent as a strength rather than be embarrassed by it. 
  • Leema wanted to negotiate her salary and position. Using the skills she learned with Monique, she was prepared for her promotion several months later. 

Second, make the ask. Identify someone you know to be good with the things you need help with and ask them if they would be willing to share their knowledge. Reassure your potential mentor that you are asking for help for a specific time period, not an open-ended engagement! If they are over-committed right now, ask them if they know someone else with a similar skillset who might be willing to mentor. 

Third, be open to receiving their advice. You asked for their help. As you receive their thoughts, resist the urge to defend your current state or past actions. Get into a mindset of gratitude…your mentor is there to help you. So saying things like “thank you, I can see how that will be helpful” is the right way to think about it. 

Fourth: Do the work. Your mentor is investing their time in you, so it’s your duty to mindfully apply what they are teaching you, to follow up on connections they make for you, and to circle back to them to share the results. 

We can’t guarantee you’ll get a promotion within four months like Leema. However, we can tell you, when you fully commit to your mentoring relationship, #Momentumhappens toward your goals!

Congratulations Leema!

Co-mentoring Through the Decades

Each Executive and Upward class is split into co-mentoring groups, which consist of a diverse selection of women leaders in Birmingham. If you are interested in finding a mentor, Momentum has a free matching program.

Some of our groups have been connected for over a decade.  Tricia Kirk, Katherine Bland, Connie Pruett, Rusha Smith, all from class 6, and Katherine’s wife Peggy Vandergrift. According to Katherine, “We are family. We celebrate life’s blessings and we lift each other up through difficult times. My Momentum family has supported me and inspired me, especially when I was diagnosed with Ovarian cancer.”

Alumnae with similar profiles will not be put together. For example, there will never be a group with 5 lawyers or accountants. What’s surprising about the group?

“You would never put this group together. We come from different walks of life, career paths, rural and urban upbringing, ideologies, and so much more. But, we respect and embrace our differences,” Katherine Bland.

Others are newer but just as engaged. Mo Shorts, Alaina Ploski, Carly Miller, Danielle Hines, Efstathia Andrikopoulou, and Felicia Pike are in a group from the Upward class. Their advice?

“Be intentional. It is worth it.”

“All members need to be equally invested for this to work.”

“These women are unbiased third parties and they can give you great perspective on the challenges you face. Even if you are nervous, you will feel better putting it out there for consideration.”

Both of these groups remained consistent throughout the pandemic. How was this possible? The Upward group stayed connected through a daily group text. They also had virtual meet ups until it was safe to meet in person. One participant shared, “I am geographically far from my family and friends, so having this group has been a true gift – knowing I have friends close by and people to reach out to if I need. Simply by existing, the women who make up my group have supported me through what has been a very strange time.”

Having a strong group of supportive women means you can call someone up for a drink or a walk at any time. “What seemed so big, with them, is now so small. They have a way of putting things in perspective.” Momentum’s mentoring program pairs mentees and mentors who share a specific goal or skill they want to work on together. Although you are only required to have a six month relationship, many pairs stayed connected beyond that time period.

The Executive group had even more ideas for connecting through COVID. “We continued our gatherings through Zoom. We even bought the same appetizer tray from the grocery store so we were still ‘sharing’ our appetizers. When it was safe, we had a gathering outdoors and recently moved to outdoor dining in restaurants,” Katherine Bland.

Despite a bizarre year, we are thrilled to hear of moments of support and encouragement. Women need true connection now more than ever. Reach out to Mindy Santo, Mentor Coordinator, for more information. Here’s to a better 2021!

May Showers Bring Summer Flowers

Observing this past month of May where we celebrated Mental Health Awareness, it is vital to reflect on the general state of wellness impacted by the pandemic and quarantine. We do not want to labor into another disparaging article about the statistical impacts that sudden loss, sustained periods of doubt and uncertainty, and isolation (among other effects) have had on our health outlook. Instead, we want to encourage you to remember the incredible obstacles we have overcome through the course of quarantine 2020, as we return to a semblance of what our life was before.

While some are bold to make the leap, others are understandably hesitant to re-enter an inevitably changed world. They are weary of returning to a state of blissful ignorance and remain cautious of their people interactions despite substantial progress in projected health outcomes. They still carry trauma from the suddenness of the quarantine order, shutting down our economy and livelihood many depended on. And, this fear of dire consequence drives a delayed expectation of gratification that has permanently changed how we approach mindfulness, connecting with others, and how we seek enjoyment outside of our professions.

In spite of this, we are seeing major improvements in public mental health acceptance. Undeniably, the time spent in isolation or confinement awakened space to identify and face some areas of trouble we faced prior to 2020. We had to put in the tough effort to derive comfort from ourselves and continue to build self-originated hope. Whether we carried in mental health issues from our past or were confronted by new ones, it is more visible to us how our stress, low self-worth, or low trust impede our day-to-day tasks.

Going forward, we must continue to prioritize mental health wellness and take action, not retrospectively, but because we deserve positivity and assurance about our progress. We deserve to pursue happiness in tandem with our responsibilities. We deserve to disrupt business to introduce intervals of peace, creativity, and freedom. These are all necessary pursuits.

 

 

By Nikita Udayakumar

COVID-19 Sent Women’s Workforce Progress Backwards

How has the COVID-19 Pandemic affected women in the workforce?

The collapse of the childcare industry and reductions in school supervision hours as a result of COVID-19 are driving hundreds of thousands of  mothers out of the workforce.  Four times as many women as men dropped out of the labor force in September 2020… approximately 865,000 women compared with 216,000 men. The lack of childcare infrastructure and family-oriented workplace policies present challenges for women. National inaction in conjunction with  already unstable childcare infrastructure will have a negative impact on women’s employment and labor force participation rates. In turn, this will negatively affect current and future earnings of women.

The losses in availability of childcare as a result of the pandemic is leading to a decline in women’s total wages. It is estimated that there could be approximately $64.5 billion in lost wages per year if the current predicament persists. Without a coordinated national response, these consequences will have ripple effects that will hurt communities and stifle the economic recovery.

Interruptions in childcare affect women more than men. Women have been forced to reduce their work hours, leave work to care for children, and spend more time on education and household tasks. Women with young children have reduced their work hours in rates that are four to five times greater than the reductions of men. These disproportionate reductions have doubled the gap between the number of hours worked by women and by men, thus leading to a significant reduction of women’s income. The impact of loss of child has appeared to be borne entirely on the backs of mothers of school age children.

How has the pandemic affected women of color?

Women/mothers of color face intersecting oppressions exacerbated by the pandemic. Women of color are more likely to have lost their job than their white female counterparts and have higher numbers of being on the front lines as essential workers. This has caused a disproportionate reduction of wages for women of color and an increased health risk.

Black women in particular experience many more job disruptions due to inadequate childcare.

Unfortunately, there are too many factors that make it impossible to predict exactly how families/women will be impacted by the shifting landscape of public health, employment, and caregiving due to COVID-19.  The impact of this level of disruption to women’s ability is proving to be substantial. Maternal labor force participation has been increasing over time. This slight decline would undo the past 25 years of progress.

What is Momentum doing to support?

Momentum Leaders is working actively to help combat the negative implications that the pandemic has on women in the workforce. Since March 2020, Momentum has invested in equipment, staff time and media to provide content to inspire, educate and connect women through this tough time. Webinars, panel discussions, mentor matching podcasts, blog, email newsletters, and all social media have been made free, making it accessible to anyone in the community. Momentum has hosted virtual events that have focused on wellness strategies for the challenges of coping with what 2020 has thrown at us. We continue to support women in the workforce through our Upward Early-Career Program, Men with Momentum, Mentor Matching Program, and Biennial Conference. Momentum is working to expand our reach beyond the Birmingham metro area, to reach an even broader audience!

Defining Intersectionality

The Case for Intersectionality

Intersectionality has been a commonplace phrase in the feminist realm since Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term in 1989. Essentially, it refers to the notion that the combination of different identities – age, race, gender, class, sexuality, nationality dramatically influence the way people experience the world. The intersection of these identities contributes to the obstacles and/or privileges that those who share some but not all identities may experience.

Too often, human resource stakeholders fall into the trap of the one size fits all approach. Its appeal in simplicity sacrifices efficacy. These one size fits all approaches for women in leadership aim to solve the challenges for white, middle-class, cisgender women. The Western default. Which leaves out doubly or triply marginalized women as a result. As organizational demographics evolve, they leave out more women than they aim to benefit.

According to research conducted by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Co. in 2019, women make up 38 percent of frontline leader-level positions in the United States and Canada. White women hold 27 percent of these manager roles and women of color only hold 12 percent. The disparity is even greater at the executive level. White women hold 18 percent of roles while women of color hold 4 percent.

These discrepancies are due to a large disfunction of systemic and cultural barriers, not just failed women advocacy programs. Infusing intersectionality into policies and practices aimed at advancing women in leadership can help.

How can we do better?

Embracing intersectionality means embracing variety which adds an element of complexity. To ensure an environment where everyone can thrive because of their differences, follow these three steps:

1. Ask the Experts

The ideal approach is to have a diversity and inclusion expert with a focus on human-centered design to solve persistent and painful challenges with an empathetic perspective. Applying these principles to intersectionality and women’s advocacy efforts ensures the correct focus. The women leaders that are the goal are experts in their own experiences and challenges. Opening a dialogue creates space for these women to tell you exactly what they need without any guesswork.  

2. Diverse Populations Deserve Diverse Solutions

It is necessary to tailor approaches to fit different populations to achieve satisfaction. Equality is about giving everyone the same level of support, but equity requires different supports for different situations.

3. Use Multi-Dimensional Metrics to Track Multi-Level Impact

Lean on metrics, track engagement, retention, promotion, salary, and representation to measure the success of empowering women leaders. It is important to look at the data from a demographic perspective to see if the efforts positively impact all women. If efforts to advance women leaders are working for certain groups disproportionately, it is important to investigate and reevaluate accordingly.

The Kids are Alright

 

In July 2020, Harvard Business Researchers surveyed a group of 2,500 working parents to assess the importance of the (declining) childcare industry in supporting the reopening economy, following the Covid-19 outbreak. The study held by fellow professionals and mothers – Alicia Sasser Modestino, Jamie J. Ladge, Addie Swartz, and Alisa Lincoln – aimed to examine the impact felt by the 50 million parent U.S. workforce with children under the age of 14. The results presented that 20% of working parents across low and high-income brackets had to leave work or reduce their hours because of the lack of childcare. Of them, nearly a third claimed it was down to the “more capable parent,” while less than a quarter decided based on income bracket.

Why is this an issue?

The survey displayed a heavy lenience towards traditional gender roles, and found that 26% of women surveyed were expected to step-down from their work roles. In addition, the expectations of the role of an active mother and breadwinner have only surmounted for single mothers and women of color. The survey showed that women were more likely to reduce hours at work if they were Black, or if they were single, divorced, separated, or widowed. The report subsequently argued for businesses to assume the responsibility for arranging childcare, as opposed to individual employees. Seeing the weighted and incredibly meaningful contribution of women in the workforce – plus, the possible addition of 5% to the U.S. GDP – it is crucial for companies to address these inequities for working women parents.

Temporary Solutions

In September 2020, the Birmingham Business Alliance compiled a list of resources to support parents managing their work and homeschooling pressures, including YWCA’s School Support Program, The Levite Jewish Community Center Day Camps, and YMCA and similar community center services. Wyndy offers an app to connect local nannies and sitters to parents in need of childcare services. Additionally, Childcare Resources’ is a Central Alabama agency connecting families to over 700 childcare programs that fit their needs.