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Dear Amy,

Thank you for taking the time to read this email. I know you must receive a great deal of questions and mail and that mine is one of many. I have two questions for you and I hope you will be able to help. First, I would like to say that I am a man and a business co-owner that supports feminism and equal rights for women.

As a man, what can I do to become more active in the promotion of feminism on a local and nationwide level ? In our business, we already offer equal opportunity employment for women and nearly half of our mid and upper management positions are held by women. However, I feel as though this is still somewhat passive as far as being an active supporter. I would like to do more to become an activist in the feminist movement but I really don't know where to start. Any suggestions?

My other question is in regard to an event that I attended a few years ago in Lexington ,Ky. sponsored by "Women in Construction". I would like to find out if this organization still exists and if so, how can I find them ? Thank you for you help.


Stuart Harrod


Dear Stuart,

I found your note very thoughtful and totally in line with a range of questions I have been getting as I travel around the country speaking in colleges and other public forums -- and that is "what is men's role in feminism?" I always try to make the distinction that men's role isn't for women, but for themselves -- men have as much to gain from feminism as women do and I would hope/expect that you have found this with your business. Having women in senior positions, etc.... isn't only beneficial to them, but the institution itself.

Another thing that I find myself talking about, mostly in response to my experience at Ask Amy -- is that anti-job discrimination laws actually only apply to companies with more than 50 employees, which actually exempts the majority of employers and thus employees from these protections. This means that it's up to the companies themselves to have a conscience and implement these policies. Sadly that doesn't always happen, but it seems like yours is a great exception to that practice and a great example to others. In this instance, there are a few things that I would recommend -- one, sharing your example with other companies in your community. It goes a long way to have this message come from a less obvious place -- i.e. a fellow business owner/manager -- rather than a feminist organization.

Creating a manual of sorts or a public forum or brown bag lunch -- some way to show that it can and should be done. Another thing is to promote flexible work time, so that your business is feminist not only in who is there, but in how the company operates.

As to your second question, I think that Women in Construction is affiliated with a group in New York City called Non-Traditional Employment for Women. That's a start in the right direction

.-- Amy


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