Then & Now: The Evolution of the Sports Bra

Have you ever thought about what life was like for active women before the invention of the sports bra? I, personally, took the thing for granted, until I saw ESPN’s mini-documentary on the subject earlier this year.

If you missed it, it’s worth 10 minutes of your time to watch:

You’ll hear from three women – Lisa Lindahl, Hinda Miller and Polly Smith – about how they came up with the idea for the Jogbra. How before this invention, lots of women were simply didn’t participate in sports because it was either too uncomfortable or too embarrassing for them.

You’ll learn how the Jogbra came into popularity on the heels of Title IX, a piece of legislation widely considered to have had “a greater impact on American women’s sports than any other development in American history.” And how the sports bra just might be the next most important development for women in sports after that.

Pretty wild when you stop and think about it, right?!

The sports bra has been through quite an evolution since the Jogbra (just watch the ESPN video to the end to see what I mean). Nowadays, most women know the value of a good sports bra. And hopefully no girl is discouraged from athletic endeavors because she doesn’t have the right support.


Today, a sports bra ad from Under Armor reminds the world that women are unstoppable. And it sure doesn’t hurt to feel comfortable and supported while you’re taking on the world. So kudos to the innovative ladies who invented the Jogbra. They saw a problem that was limiting women’s potential, and they invented a solution for us all. 40 years later, it’s nice to see how far we’ve come.

Tracking the trends in ‘blue’ vs. ‘pink’-collar jobs

As the Women’s Business Council celebrates 30 years of empowering women in business at every level, we’ve been taking a look back at how far we’ve come and thinking about what’s in store for the future.

When it comes to trends in jobs, it looks like things have changed quite a bit in the last 30 years. According to a recent article in the New York Times, lots of jobs predominantly done by men (like machine operator or welder, for example) have been disappearing, while occupations that employ mostly women are quickly growing.

If you take a look at the graphic in that NYT article, you’ll see a depiction of how the fastest-growing jobs, as predicted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, are predominantly done by women, with only a few exceptions. Jobs in the healthcare industry in particular, from home health aides to nurse practitioners, are more than 80% female and are projected to grow significantly in the years ahead.

What seems crazy to me as a casual observer is that when men who enter these fields, which the story refers to as “pink-collar” occupations, they are paid more and promoted faster than women. Sociologically speaking, this trend is referred to as the “glass escalator.”

Perhaps that’s why this chart reflecting data from the Census Bureau for Albany, NY shows higher average salaries for men in common jobs including those most likely dominated by women:


On the bright side, I suppose, the NYT article notes that women enter into male-dominated fields more than men enter female-dominated fields. And those male-dominated fields tend to be well-paid. Yet on the flip side, other studies point to drops in pay, negative perceptions, and more health problems as women take over male-dominated roles.

So where does that leave us? I’d say we still have room to grow when it comes to promoting women in the workplace. But don’t take my word for it…

Join us for our next WBC program, The Evolution of Women in Business, on February 14 at The Desmond Hotel & Conference Center. Hear from a panel of past Women of Excellence Award recipients on how they predict women in the workplace will be propelled toward advancement in the future.

How Three Letters Empowered Recognition of My Full Potential

Guest post by Kelsey Carr, Project Manager/Project Engineer for The Chazen Companies and co-chair of the WBC Women of Excellence Nomination Committee

At the first WBC Steering Committee meeting of 2017, Vice Chair Jackie Sheffer asked a series of tough questions, to which each member answered by physically moving to a corner representing strongly agree, agree, disagree, or strongly disagree. With Question 1, Does the WBC have the ability to change the world?, I found myself standing solo by the supersized post-it marked strongly agree, while the majority agreed. My logic was simple: Yes, the WBC can change the world because it has and continues to change my world.

Flashback to mid 2014, I was a shy, focused, dedicated, (did I mention shy?), project engineer, celebrating seven years at the only “real world” job I’d ever known. Having entered the workforce in 2008, at the start of the Great Recession, I was lucky to: 1) have a job 2) love my job and 3) be able to say I’ve had amazing mentors at Chazen for my entire career thus far. Little did I know that my whole world was about to change.

woe-kcarr-remarksThat winter, Chazen would nominate me for the Women of Excellence – Emerging Professional Award, which I would receive the following spring. In a whirlwind, I was introduced to my six fellow recipients, quietly listening to their incredible life stories and absorbing every word like a sponge. I would meet Ashley Jeffrey Bouck, our current WBC Chair and recipient of this award the previous year, who would act as my mentor through the process. Ashley, a young woman who inspires girls each and every day through Girls Inc., would quickly inspire me. She told me to use this opportunity to promote change for other young professionals and urged me to use my remarks at the luncheon to send a message. Finding the courage from deep within to take this advice, I discussed the societal expectations I had to overcome as a woman, an engineer, a millennial, and an advocate for hunger relief programs. I challenged the 600 person audience to close the gender gap, create opportunity, and reconsider these stigmas. In three minutes, I had gone miles outside of my comfort zone and there was no going back.

It took three letters, WOE, to fill a void that I didn’t realize was missing. It took three letters, and a whole network of incredible women, to leave me empowered to recognize both my worth and my potential. I spent the next one and a half years of my life on a path of immense personal growth, which would lead to the easiest choice of my life, becoming involved with the WBC. As Co-Chair of the WOE nomination committee, my goal is to use everything I have learned to empower other women in our community. By nominating an individual for the 26th Annual Women of Excellence Awards, you have the ability to do the same. Together, we can change the world.

2015 Women of Excellence award recipients

Nominations must be received no later than 5 pm on Thursday, January 31st. Click here to download the nomination form.

Women in Business: Then & Now

This year, the Women’s Business Council is celebrating 30 years of promoting the role of women in the workplace! That got us thinking a lot about what life was like for working women in 1986, and we found some pretty interesting statistics…

chalabi-datalab-dearmona0205A post over at FiveThirtyEight explains that less than a quarter of women out-earned their husbands 30 years ago. Today, women are the primary breadwinners in 38% of heterosexual American marriages.

According to the Pew Research Center, just 20 years ago, there weren’t any female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. Today, there are 26. That’s still a very small percentage (5.2), but at least there’s been some progress.

Young Women Outpacing Young Men in College CompletionYoung women were just beginning to outpace young men in college graduation rates in the late 80’s. Today, 37% of women ages 25-29 hold at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to just 30% of men in the same age range. And women today are more likely to continue their education, earning the majority of master’s (60%) and doctorates (51%) in 2012.

We found some great data in Working Mother’s 30th anniversary Best Companies report. For example: in the late 1980’s, only 5 out of Working Mother’s 30 Best Companies offered fully paid maternity leave. Today, all 100 Best Companies offer fully paid leave to full-time employees.

All 100 Best Companies also offer flextime and telecommuting, compared to just 7 out of 30 who offered flextime in 1986. Back then, only 2 Best Companies allowed employees to work from home.

The Narrowing of the Gender Wage Gap, 1980-2012Of course, women in the workplace continue to face a gender wage gap. And some reports suggest that men are going to keep out-earning women in America until 2058! But going back to Pew Research Center data, we find at least a few promising numbers:

First, we see that the gender wage gap is narrowing, especially for young women. In 1980, women’s hourly wages were less than 70% those of men. By 2012, that percentage had increased to 84% among all female workers, and 93% among female workers ages 25-34.

The Pew Research report also points out that (although men’s hourly earnings remain higher than women’s overall) wages are trending up for women and down for men over the last 30 years. Median hourly earnings (in 2012 dollars) were just $11.94 for women in 1980, compared to $14.90 in 2012.

Much of our fact-finding showed progress for women in the workplace over the last 30 years. But it also showed lots of room for continued improvement. As the Women’s Business Council celebrates 30 years in the Capital Region, it’s clear that we have lots of work left to do.

During our anniversary year, we’ll be looking back at some of the big moments and influential women who’ve shaped the WBC since 1986. Keep following the WBC Voice and join us at one of our upcoming events to come along on the journey!

Voices in the Crowd: Blindsided by the Blind Spot

On Tuesday, March 15, the Women’s Business Council joined forces with the Times Union’s Women@Work for a panel discussion about “The Blind Spot”. This interesting and informative study sparked great discussion about the ways in which CEOs’ perceptions of gender issues in the workplace differ from those of working women, and explored some possible reasons why this might be. Many working women – and some men, too! – were there.  Here’s what our Voices in the Crowd had to say about the experience:

Sandy Dedrick and Jerilee Beaudoin, Pioneer Bank

“I found the event extremely interesting and very relevant to today’s business women.  The presenters were refreshingly candid while providing valuable insight to those in attendance – great event!”

-Sandy Dedrick, Pioneer Bank

“I was a bit surprised at how significant the gap in perception is between male CEOs and the general public, and women in particular, especially in the areas of women in senior management, equality in compensation and the prevalence of sexual harassment in the workplace.  We’ve come a long way, but there’s still more work to be done.”

-Jerilee Beaudoin, Pioneer Bank

Alan Baker, Creative Marketing Concepts

“I came here today because I like to hear the opinions of all types of business people and owners. I want to understand what obstacles still exist with gender, race, and age in the workplace, and especially the working women’s perspectives, since I do business with marketing directors who are in a large part female.”

-Alan Baker, Creative Marketing Concepts

Sonya Young, Key Bank



“The presentation was well put together and addressed issues that many women face in the workplace yet may not openly discuss. Opening the discussion with statistics behind the issues provided additional relevancy to the topic. This also provided a solid framework for the panel to provide greater insight and personal experiences that many people were able to relate to. Women have made great strides in the workplace and by continuing to have an open dialogue about such challenges it provides the opportunity to make changes.”

-Sonya Young, Key Bank

Don’t miss the next WBC program – C-Secrets from the C-Level – on Tuesday, April 12. Click here to learn more and register!


Speak your truth in 2016


We women are often seen as people pleasers – wired to say yes even when we might want to say no. Clearly, there are benefits to saying no sometimes, as outlined in this commentary piece by Aimee Cohen. But it can still be a challenge when we’re worried about letting down the people we aim to please.

In an effort to help more women speak their truth in 2016, the Women’s Business Council has planned a special January program with Dr. Suzie Mookherjee, cardiologist at Albany Medical Center. Join us on Tuesday, January 12 at the Desmond Hotel & Conference Center for Speaking Your Truth: The Power of Authenticity.

During this inspiring session, Dr. Mookherjee will challenge you to explore the true power that lies in being authentic. Understand how to balance priorities, deepen partnerships and embrace positive stress. Learn from real-life examples, and walk away with tangible steps you can take immediately to start speaking your truth in the New Year.

We look forward to seeing you there! Click here to register now.

Nominate a Woman of Excellence!

It’s a new year, and nominations are now open for the Capital Region Chamber’s Women of Excellence!

Each year, outstanding women who have achieved success in their professional careers and dedicated themselves to community service are honored as “Women of Excellence”. In 2016, seven such women will be celebrated at the Women’s Business Council‘s 25th annual Women of Excellence luncheon on Friday, June 3.

These women will be selected by a panel of prior award recipients, based on nominations submitted by their peers and colleagues. Nominations for the 2016 Women of Excellence will be accepted until 5:00 pm on Thursday, January 28. Click here to download the nomination form.


The list of prior Women of Excellence award recipients is filled with talented and inspiring professionals from throughout our region. After hearing from each honoree at the 2015 luncheon, WBC Chair Susan Radzyminski reflected in a WBC Voice blog post:

I was left not only inspired by their stories, but challenged by their words to follow my own inner passion to succeed at whatever path that calls me for family, career or community.

All of us at the WBC Voice blog look forward to seeing who will join the prestigious ranks of the Women of Excellence in 2016. We hope that you’ll take some time to nominate a deserving woman this month!