By Lou Ann
M. Mittelstaedt, The Real McCoy Staff
of the installation community gathered at McCoy’s Aug. 26 to
celebrate Women’s Equality Day and the presentation of the 2008
Excellence through Diversity Award.
Command Sgt. Maj. M. Kevin Dubois
presents a command sergeants major coin to Women’s Equality
Day guest speaker Mary Kay Wolf of the La Crosse YWCA. (Photo
by Val Hyde)
Equality Day marks the anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which
granted women throughout the nation the right to vote.
Fort McCoy observance was coordinated by the U.S. Army Reserve Equal
Employment Opportunity Office.
Kay Wolf, who recently began her role as director of the YWCA of the
Coulee Region, was the guest speaker for the event.
said the YWCA got its start in London in 1855 and in the United States
in 1858. The YWCA has been offering services in the Coulee Region
since 1906 — three years prior to Fort McCoy’s founding.
YWCA’s mission is to foster community programs that strengthen
society in the areas of affordable housing, social justice, teen
services and activity opportunities for individuals of all ages and
said she has spent considerable time trying to convince people the
organization exists, Wolf said.
is very refreshing to have someone seek us out!" she said in
reference to the invitation to speak at the event. "It is
actually appropriate, too, because from day one the YWCA has been
about equality and eliminating racism."
the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920, much in America has
changed. Wolf said society has evolved from the physical to the
cerebral — now valuing brains over brawn — and competition is a
way of life. With this as a preface, Wolf asked the audience to
consider whether "equality truly can be attainable in a society
that is very, very keyed on winning and losing." "I think it
is attainable, but we have to approach things in different ways,"
terms of equality related to economics and employment, Wolf cited two
indicators that women are, in fact, gaining equality in the employment
arena: 1.) Women now are dying of heart disease and stress causes at
the same rate as men. 2.) In a poor economy, women are losing jobs at
a rate equal to men.
don’t think this is what our foremothers were thinking about when
they pushed for equality," she said. "And in looking at
these two indicators, do we really want to be equal on this playing
field? Or shouldn’t we be changing the playing field?"
an illustration, Wolf used the story of Linda Stewart, who, years ago,
while working as a senior executive at Fidelity Investments, hit the
proverbial glass ceiling that blocked her advancement in the
male-dominated company. Stewart changed the playing field by quitting
her job and starting her own business. She has achieved great success,
Wolf said, and many women followed this same path.
to 1920, virtually every state had, at one time, granted women the
right to vote and then later taken the right away, she said. "So
when the 19th Amendment was signed, it was great, and women were
equal, right? No, that’s not quite right, and, in fact, women and
men are not the same. Because of that we each have our
playing field is beginning to change. Today’s work environment
places more value than ever before on team-based networks and
interpersonal skills such as conflict resolution and multi-tasking —
skills which women traditionally are good at, Wolf said.
bring further change to the playing field, Wolf said women will need
to look for far-reaching social solutions — obtaining affordable
health insurance and mortgages, adjusting school hours to accommodate
working parents, incorporating the community and extended family —
into employment and work place life.
said that while the first recommendation is to change the playing
field, the second change of approach is somewhat different. "We
cannot continue to look for equality and be divisive, at the same
time," she said. "We should be looking at this as human
rights, not women’s rights versus another faction who are also
looking for their rights."
did what they had to do to gain rights, and it was effective, Wolf
said. "But I’m not sure it works anymore," she said.
"I’m not sure we can be one group trying to find our way as
much as we need to be humans and find human rights and human equality.
That’s something we can all be on board with, and that’s not
divisive at all."
Commander Col. David E. Chesser presented Wolf with a Department of
Army certificate of appreciation and a command coin for speaking at
also received a command sergeants major coin from Fort McCoy Garrison
Command Sergeant Major Command Sgt. Maj. M. Kevin. Dubois.