Women’s Conference Addresses Search for Work/Family Balance

Joan Blades, author and cofounder of the grassroots Internet phenomenon MoveOn.org, as well as MomsRising.org, is among the featured speakers for the March 24-25 campus conference CMC Women in Real Life: The Work/Family Challenge. The first-ever event for women (and men) of all ages, stages, and choices, will explore the struggle for balance throughout the work/family spectrum, and is co-hosted by CMC, the Berger Institute for Work, Family and Children, and the CMC Women’s Forum.

Utilizing breakout panel discussions and guest speakers, the conference brings together a breadth of CMC alumni talking about everything from the politics of parenting and workplace flexibility to child care, health, wealth, and making room for meaning. The conference is aimed at creating dialogue and highlighting a variety of perspectives for CMC students, alumni and the community as a whole.

“The conference program basically reflects what we, a planning committee of alumnae, faculty and students, needed in our own lives,” explains organizer Wendy Verba ’86. “We wanted concrete solutions like flexible work practices, and creative child care arrangements. We wanted recognition that all is not perfect in the realm of work-family balance.’ And we wanted to create a community of women dealing with the same issues.”

Panelists include working and stay-at-home moms and dads, same-sex parents, U.S. Magistrates, professors, attorneys, psychologists and pediatricians among others. Blades will join the CMC alumnae panelists as the closing speaker of the conference.

The conference opens with talks by Claremont McKenna representatives, including President Pamela Gann, followed by breakout sessions. Attendees can participate in panels that cover a wide range of topics; from childcare to life in the workplace and what family-friendly companies are doing to support mothers and fathers; families that live “outside the myth” of the traditional American family model, the politics of parenting as well as life planning, healthy living (which includes 5-minute massages and “Yoga-light” stretching during the lunch break) and financial fitness.

The conference, sponsored in part by Navigant, Inc., Claremont McKenna College, the Claremont Women’s Forum, and the CMC Alumni Association, provides a bit of activist training for women and men in the workplace as well. With the help of closing speaker Joan Blades (who will also be signing copies of her book The Motherhood Manifesto: What America’s Mom’s Want- and What to About It) and professor Diane Halpern, executive director of The Berger Institute and past president of the American Psychological Association, panelists offer ways in which men and women can recognize systemic flaws, what needs to be changed and how to make room in their busy lives for activism.

The College also will present its first annual Athena Award, founded to recognize those who have contributed to the alignment of work and family in a variety of ways, and to the empowerment of girls and women in achieving their dreams. The inaugural award will be presented to Deloitte & Touche.

The two-day event takes place on campus Saturday, March 24, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., followed by a dinner in Pasadena that evening, and Sunday, March 25, with brunch at the CMC President’s House. Registration is $95 dollars, (free for students and scholarships are available for other guests).

Visit http://berger.cmc.edu/AlumniConf/ for registration and additional information.