Our “Werkers” Share What Women’s Empowerment Means for Them
Forty-four years ago, the U.S. Congress designated August 26th as “Women’s Equality Day.” Forty-four years may sound like a long time if referring to the length of time a restaurant holds top honors in Chicago, or maybe when it’s the number of candles on your cake—but for something as important as women’s equality, forty-four years is but a blip.
I’m incredibly proud to work for an agency where women’s equality isn’t just a day we celebrate once a year, rather one we represent 365 days a year. We lead by example with women holding the majority of our top leadership roles. From Holly Meloy, our General Manager, Cari Wilber, our VP of Growth & Strategy, and myself, SVP of Account Management—there is no cap to a woman’s growth at Marketing Werks. In this way, our agency embodies women’s empowerment, but we were curious to find out what Women’s Equality Day meant to all our “werkers.” We posed the question and were floored by the rich responses, many of which we then shared in a series dedicated to women’s empowerment. The series includes stories about a werker’s mother who was one of three female graduates at Northwestern Law School in the seventies, of an immigrant who went from waitressing to designing furniture featured on the covers of magazines, and to the female werker who joined a boy’s soccer team when there wasn’t one for girls.
We believe there is a lot more work to do when it comes to women’s equality, and while we’re happy there is a day Congress devoted to it, we strive to embody it every day. We hope you enjoy the following stories about empowering women as much as we do.
Featured Werker: Lisa Fasana, SVP, Account Director
Women’s Equality Day commemorates the date of Aug. 26, 1920, when women were officially granted the right to vote. In recognition of this honor, we are kicking off a week-long series of posts featuring Werkers sharing their thoughts on women’s empowerment.
Featured Werker: SVP, Account Director, Lisa Fasana “In being a working mom, I teach my daughter she can do anything she sets her mind to and be anything she wants to be. Do what you love, with passion and purpose, and go big. Be strong.”
Featured Werker: Will H., Sr. Art Director
"Sarah Silverman has a great bit in one of her comedy routines, and I agree with her, whole-heartedly. In a nutshell, she says 'we tell girls that they can do it, even as a girl. But maybe it never occurred to them that they couldn’t.' There’s a real subtlety to that, and I agree that we need to encourage our daughters to do as much as they can, because they can aspire to greatness --- Not aspire to greatness despite their gender.
In 2016, I tried to tell my daughter that a woman was running for President, and that this woman could be the FIRST woman as president. She was two … she didn’t care. She didn’t know any different, because that is how it was her whole life practically — a woman running for President. I hope she never knows any different, and that the forward trajectory of our society continues to hammer out equality for all and that there isn’t another 32 years between women running for office. Remember Mondale/Ferraro? I do."
Featured Werker: Emily E., Client Services Manager
"I was lucky enough to attend an all-girls Catholic high school and I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. Being in an-all female environment during such a period of growth in my life shaped who I became. I was able to feel empowered by the love and acceptance of other women, which in turn made me love and accept myself.
To me, female empowerment means taking the energy of love and acceptance of oneself and giving it back to the world. You can do anything you set your mind to if you use that energy."
Featured Werker: Holly Meloy, SVP Managing Director
"At a former agency, I took a leadership course where a group of colleagues I’d just met had to describe their first impressions of me–positive and negative. In the negative column, they described me as 'aggressive' and 'intimidating.' Afterwards, when I told a friend, he remarked, 'That’s just because you’re a woman. If you were a man they wouldn’t have said it. Forget about it.'
Today I wear those descriptors without apology, and with pride."
Featured Werker: Jake Weiss, Account Executive
"When I think of strong, independent women, my mother and sister both come to mind. My sister is an elementary school teacher, not too long ago her classroom had to evacuate because of a carbon monoxide leak. She got every single student out. That includes the ones she had to carry when they became too panicked to move.
My mother has run her own business since before I was born. Simply put, she is the definition of a businesswoman."
Featured Werker: Susan Schwartz, Account Director
"My mom was one of three women in her class to graduate from Northwestern Law School in the seventies. That has always been a point of inspiration for me."
Featured Werker: Courtney Lochner
"My mother-in-law Donuta "Donna" is a force to be reckoned with—and a glamorous one at that! Born and raised in Krakow, Poland she got her masters degree in chemistry and later married and had twins while working as a chemistry teacher. When her son and daughter were fourteen she decided to move the family to the United States for a year so her children would improve their English skills, and have a greater opportunity for success.
In the States she worked tireless hours and multiple jobs. As her teaching license was not applicable in the US, she could only find work waitressing, but she did the labor with her head held high. When the family gained a green card to stay longer her entrepreneurial spirit ignited. She and her husband opened antiques shops in Lincoln Park and Portage Park. Over the years she evolved the shops into a re-upholstery and design firm where today she services high-end clientele in the Midwest--and has even had her work featured on the cover of Elle Décor.
What’s most incredible about Donna however, is that whenever you show up at her house (whether in the US or Poland) she’s glamorous as a movie star but deep in the dirty work of staining furniture or gardening--and as for her impeccable garden it's akin to the botanical masterwork one expects from the Chicago Botanic Gardens. Entering her home is like stepping back in time and into a room in a European chateau. But it doesn't stop there, later, as she plays with her grandchildren, she effortlessly whips up a seven course meal that rivals Chicago's poshest restaurants.
She defines the woman-who-does-it-all!"
Featured Werker: Ellie Meyer, Account Director
"Seek out and do what makes you happy, even if it’s not easy to come by. When I was young, there were no competitive girls soccer teams in my hometown. But I LOVED soccer - it was my #1 passion. So I joined the boys soccer team, and I was one of the first to do so in our community. Now there's a thriving soccer program for both genders--nothing should stop you from living the life that makes you the happiest."
Featured Werker: Aja Harris, Corporate Receptionist
"I would like to see equal pay and women fighting for their rights. We women tend to both run the household and hold jobs. Plus, there are now far more single mothers than during the Baby Boom era—our pay must be equalized!
I am a huge advocate for women empowerment, because I would like the next generation of women to understand their worth and what they are capable of, no matter what obstacle come before them.
I would like companies to be more compassionate about a woman’s role as a mother—and not make them choose between their natural right and a paycheck. There was a time when I had to choose between my kids and my career. I wanted to be successful in my field but did not want to forsake my children, and so in a male-driven world I missed out on many milestones in my early career. I told myself that I would never do that again. I left the company that didn’t support women and I refuse to work at one which would make me choose between my family and my career."