Thursday, March 14, 2013

Ellen Bravo

Going Public
For many years in April, in honor of National Secretaries Day, 9to5 sponsored a national contest called “Nominate Your Boss: The Good, the Bad and the Downright Unbelievable.” We used Public Service Announcements to attract entries to the contest. Subsequent publicity about the “winners” helped draw attention to positive steps taken by employers, and honored the courageous women who are turning their private pain into public action. Among the Unbelievable winners:

Repair a hole in his trousers – while he’s wearing them.
Clip his nose hairs.
Wax the hair off his back.
Take his urine sample (or stool sample) to the lab.
Cup her hands for his cigarette ashes.
Dress up in spandex and lure workers off a competitor’s construction site.

A stockbroker asked his secretary to take home his trading jacket to wash by hand because “you don’t have a college degree.”
A manager fired his support staff person because her son was due for a liver transplant – he claimed she wouldn’t be able to keep her mind on her performance.
When a suspicious-looking package arrived in the mail, the manager said: “This might be a letter bomb. You open it.”
A stockbroker held a contest among the office help to see who was most proficient at forging clients’ signatures on stocks and bonds.
Managers at a newspaper that was merging and laying off hundreds of employees urged them to “demonstrate your ability to take a punch.”
The manager of a canteen vending company told his administrative assistant, the only African American in the front office, “Some of the people are racist. They did not want me to hire you. Maybe you should quit.”

Biography taken from

Ellen Bravo is a long-time activist for working women. She began working for 9to5, National Association of Working Women in 1982, when she helped found the Milwaukee chapter, and served until 2004 as its national director. Now Ellen directs Family Values @ Work Consortium, a network of state coalitions working for paid sick days and paid family leave. She has also taught Women’s Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, including masters level classes on Family-Friendly Workplaces and on Sexual Harassment. In addition to Taking on the Big Boys, Ellen co-authored (with Ellen Cassedy) The 9to5 Guide to Combating Sexual Harassment and wrote The Job/Family Challenge: A 9to5 Guide (Not for Women Only). She’s also written numerous articles and reports, including “Quality Part-Time Options in Wisconsin,” funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Ellen is frequently interviewed by the media and is a leading spokeswoman on working women’s issues. A business editor once described her talks as “moving, witty and sometimes bawdy.” Her blogs appear on Huffington Post, Feministing and other sites.

Ellen has served on several state and federal commissions, including the bi-partisan Commission on Leave appointed by Congress to study the impact of the Family and Medical Leave Act. She co-chaired the Economic Sufficiency Task Force of the Wisconsin Women = Prosperity project led by Lt. Governor Barbara Lawton and serves as treasurer for the campaign of Congresswoman Gwendolynne Moore. She is a member of several boards and committees, including the Working for Good Jobs in America Fund, the Work-Life Law Advisory Committee, the Progressive States Network, and the Grants Advisory Committee of the Milwaukee Women’s Fund. Among her commendations are a Ford Foundation Visionary award, the Francis Perkins “Intelligence and Courage” award, and a Woman of Vision award from the Ms. Foundation. Ellen lives in Milwaukee with her husband; they have two adult sons.

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