Dana Rubin – Founder Speaking While Female

For this edition of FinanciElle “$tatements”, I had the opportunity to Interview Dana Rubin, Founder and CEO of Speaking While Female, Founder and Curator of The Speaking While Female Speech Bank.

Dana is an advocate for women’s speech and voice.

Through Speaking While Female she helps companies develop their female talent to be recognized experts, brand ambassadors and rainmakers; because, companies with visible and influential women at all levels are rewarded with diversity of ideas, a robust talent pipeline, powerful role models and strong reputational capital.

Her programs give women the mindset and skill-set to be known as authorities in their field.

The Speaking While Female Speech Bank, celebrates public speeches by women from across time and around the world. The site is the resource to find speeches given by women on any topic.

Speaking of speeches, I recommend watching Dana’s TedX Talk, Unlocking the Secret History of Women’s Speech, and while your at it read The Mouthy Woman’s Manifesto.

Paolina: As an advocate for Women’s speech and voice, what barriers do you think women have faced/are facing – both systemic and based on their own relationship with using their voices based on narratives learned through lived experience? What do we all as a society and individuals have to Unlearn and how can we start doing that?

Dana:

Women have faced opposition to using their voices in public since ancient times. That much we know. Women weren’t allowed to be speakers in the Roman Forum, where all the great leaders and legislators gathered and displayed their oratory. Men and women had very defined roles. Men had their sphere, which was public and commercial. Women had theirs, which was domestic and private.

I was just reading about the most famous female orator for women’s rights and abolition in the US, in the years before and during the Civil War. Here’s what one critic said about the great Anna Dickinson: “If she has the lofty aims which we like to think are hers, she will give over trying to be smart at the cost of being womanly.”

So, we’ve had high barriers to overcome for centuries. You could call it systemic; or, you could also just call it plain prejudice against women’s public voices.

As women we internalize these messages. We hold back from using our voices because we know it’s not widely acceptable, and that it’s all to easy to cross the line and get labeled “aggressive,” or “dis-likeable.” The line of acceptability right now is very narrow, we need to widen it so that more women feel comfortable sharing their knowledge and expertise in public.

Paolina: One of the workshops you give is on Self-Advocacy, what advice can you give to women about self-advocacy when it comes to money  – Negotiation – salary & rates (if you’re a freelancer or self-employed) contracts with customers, vendors…?

Dana:

My key point about self advocacy is not specific to money — it applies to every kind of opportunity and experience. I advise women to “ROUND UP.” Whatever your skill-set level, whatever your knowledge level, don’t shortchange or undermine yourself, assume you’ll excel and step up to new opportunities. Apply for that tough job or assignment, even though you only have five of the six requirements. Ask for more money, even if you’re not sure you’ll get it. Ask to be the lead person on that deal, even if you’ve never held that role before.

Why? Because men are doing all these things! Men are not holding back in the workplace. Advancing and advocating for themselves comes more easily to them; and, that’s who we’re competing with. If we hold ourselves back, we’re putting ourselves at a disadvantage.

Paolina: What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced with money in building your business and what did you learn from it?

Dana:

Creating a basic budget with pricing for my products and revenue targets based on my business expenses. It seems like a basic step, but it wasn’t easy for me to do this. I finally hired someone to help me out — only a few years later than I should! That should have been among my first steps.

Paolina: Of the speeches currently available in the Speaking While Female Speech Bank, which are your favourite about?

Business & Economics

Carla Harris, “Take the Lead” — For inspiration, charisma, force of personality, and all-round terrific speaking ability, no one does it better than Carla Harris. She’s made a career on Wall Street for three decades plus, and is still going strong. In fact I recommend all of her talks; there are quite a few on YouTube. She is extraordinary.

Jobs & Labour

Crystal Eastman, “Now We Can Begin” — She delivered this speech in the immediate aftermath of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, so Eastman is laying out an agenda for what women should aim for next. Not only was she a feminist and a suffragist, but she was also a socialist — so this speech has socialist overtones. But she’s talking here about tangible economic, workplace and labor reforms that are necessary for women to succeed. It’s instructive to look back and see that the issues she’s talking about are just as relevant today as they were a century ago, in 1920.

Clara Lemlich, the labor organizer, in her fiery 1912  “Senators, We are Here to Stay” speech at a rally at Cooper Union in Manhattan, calls out the hypocrisy of US Senators opposed to woman’s suffrage who say they just want to protect women, but haven’t passed laws that actually protect women workers. Women need the vote, Lemlich says, “to make better laws under which we are to live.”

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