Equity and Equality
In this episode, herdacious host Lorelei chats with Dr. Kami Anderson about achieving equality through equity. With the wave of diversity, equity, and inclusion policies adopted by organizations within the past year, it can be easy to believe we’re advancing toward equal opportunities. Dr. Kami highlights that equality cannot be fully achieved until organizations and individuals make equity work an essential practice in business. From ensuring balanced representation of decision-makers to acknowledging and accommodating those with different experiences, Dr. Kami encourages us to challenge the mission statements we see with the work that's actually being done. It’s one thing to publish carefully crafted, eloquently written DEI statements, but fulfilling those promises is where the rubber meets the road. With information and intention, we can all contribute to the difficult yet rewarding process of bringing equity to our workplaces and beyond!
Host: Lorelei Gonzalez
Co-host: Kami Anderson, PhD
Kami J. Anderson, PhD is an interculturalist, scholar and language advocate. Dr. Anderson has spent the past two decades immersed in languages and cultures and has been teaching in higher education since 2005. Her primary focus is family empowerment through language with an emphasis on application and confidence. Dr. Anderson holds a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish from Spelman College, a Master’s degree in International Affairs/Interdisciplinary Studies in International Communication and Anthropology from American University and a PhD in Communication and Culture from Howard University.
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Resources mentioned in this episode:
Looking for additional resources on this topic? Check out our blog “Racism vs. Bias | Why We Need to Understand the Difference” by Frances Leigh Jordan
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Lorelei: Welcome to HERdacious, a podcast for audacious women. Welcome back to HERdacious, the podcast for audacious women looking to make some bold career moves, and HERdacious is here to help you. I'm Lorelei, your happy host, and joining me today to have a conversation about equity and equality, I have an intercultural scholar and activist, the founder of Bilingual Brown Babies, author of From "Sabotage to Support" and "Raising Bilingual Brown Babies," Dr. Kami Anderson.
Dr. Kami: Hi, how are you?
Lorelei: I am fabulous, fabulous. How are you?
Dr. Kami: I am great. I'm so excited to be here.
Lorelei: It is our pleasure to have you here, this is gonna be an epic conversation to add to the ease in this conversation on equity inequality. So first and foremost, you chose the topic of the conversation we're having today, tell us why clarifying the difference between equity and equality is important to you.
Dr. Kami: Its important because I think there are ways in which we confuse the two and we start to make them seem as though they're one in the same when they're really not. One is the end goal, the other is the process, and we really need to make sure that we're clear about the fact that you can't interchange them in order to get the end goal. And we it see a lot in organizations, and we see it a lot with people. I really just wanna clear all that up so that we no longer have any confusion when it comes to these two terms.
Lorelei: Excellent, excellent. So to help us eliminate the confusion, please clearly define equity and equality for us.
Dr. Kami: So I'm gonna define them differently separately, and then I'm gonna put them all together in an analogy in order to help us out. When we're thinking about equality, we're thinking about their share balance and distribution, balance of power. But when we're thinking about equity, we're thinking in terms of acknowledging barriers in the system, but not necessarily deficits with the people. So if we look at this, equality is making sure that in a city, everybody has a paved road. But equity would be making sure that there's maintenance on all of those roles, so everybody can have a paved road. Some might have pot holes, and that's still equality, but equity is making sure that nobody has more potholes. That's probably the best, most succinct way I could define it.
Lorelei: That was very succinct. Very clear. For further clarification, I do know that equity and equality can get conflated together sometimes. Where does parity come into that conversation? Just to monkey wrench the conversation real quick.
Dr. Kami: Yeah, so for me, when I'm thinking about parity, I think that would be more so the term that could be interchanged with equality more so than equity. Because again, when we're thinking in terms of equality, equality is the end goal and equity is the process. So equality and parity, what happens in the end? After you go through it, the equity work? So we don't wanna assume that that's just because we support the end goal of equality, that equity is present. 'Cause you have to actually work for equity, but equality can just be something you agree to have, but you don't necessarily have to have the work there. So when I'm thinking in terms of parity, I'm thinking of that same sort of thing. What are you doing to make sure there's a fair share of? Whether that is a power of balance of distribution, but there's work that needs to happen in order for you to get to parity and equality.
Lorelei: Alright, why do you think society often either conflates or confuses equity with equality?
Dr. Kami: Because it's easy. It's easy because, again, if you're thinking in terms of equality being that thing that people ascribe to like, "Oh yes. We are an equal opportunity employer. We wanna make sure that we have an equal balance of justice," all of these qualities, that concept that everybody can agree to, you can agree to, but you don't necessarily have to associate the concept with the work. So you can easily say, "Oh yes, we're for equal justice under the law." But the equity is, "Okay, but are you addressing inequalities within law enforcement? Are you addressing implicit biases in the courts? Are you addressing implicit biases when it comes to sentencing?" All of that takes work. It's easier to just say, "Hey, yeah, we're for equality and not necessarily do the work to make sure that it happens," and I think the assumption of trying to put the two together makes people assume that I'm doing equality, so I have to be doing equity work. But that's not always the case. Say, for example, we're looking at gender pay, as an example. In terms of looking at equality versus equity, equality means, "Hey, everybody is going to make the exact salary they need based off of what we understand their job to require." That makes perfect sense at the workplace, right? That means that managers make a certain amount of money, that means that these other things. But with equity, you have to also consider what are some of the invisible work that might be coming behind that. So what is some of the work that happens when it comes to, say, women trying to be able to balance being able to work in the workplace and also deal with being default parents sometimes in the home. Does that mean that that affects them negatively? I think in terms of Allyson Felix and how she got this contract with Nike and then she got pregnant, and they wanted to cut her pay by 70% because she got pregnant. That's not equity. It's equality to have a woman's spokesperson for Nike, but behind the scenes that equity work isn't there because they wanted to cut her pay 'cause she got pregnant. As if that's a fault of hers. You can't treat her as if she's less than because this is something that happened to her. Being a woman, she still should be granted whatever the contract says, and you shouldn't have to alter it just because she's got womanly parts and womanly responsibilities that come with her biological makeup.
Lorelei: Well, speaking of biological make-up, when we think about women and our positionality in the workplace, how can we best meet equality through equity work?
Dr. Kami: Pipeline [dot] com had this whole conversation around equity and equality when it comes to gender, and one of the things that they said, fairness of treatment for both women and men according to their responsive needs is a part of equality. But that's only the end goal. Yes, we were making sure that there's fairness again, that fair imbalance, that balance of distribution, all of those things that are part of equality. But the work is being to identify how does the organizational culture, the system that is set up in terms of policies and procedures, make sure that those potholes that we talked about in our early analogy are not present to make sure that equality is the end goal. How do we make sure that when we're looking at this in the workplace, gender equality is the goal. Gender equity is the day-to-day work, so both are necessary in the workplace. And in terms of our partiality, you need to make sure that we're looking for that balance distribution, but we're also addressing the ways in which that power distribution might be affected in just day-to-day practice.
Lorelei: Give us some example of the day-to-day work that we could be doing as a workforce.
Dr. Kami: I think one of the things that we need to take into consideration is the whole concept of this family leave.
Lorelei: Oh yeah, yeah.
Dr. Kami: That's a big one. And being able to think about how do we make sure that people aren't being penalized for wanting to have a family and that's on both sides.
Lorelei: That's right.
Dr. Kami: 'Cause when wer're thinking about gender equity, we're thinking about both sides. It's not just about bringing women, 'cause you don't wanna assume that as women we're at a defecit, because we're not. And we don't wanna be treated as such in a workplace. We weren't thinking about gender equity, we think about across the board. You might have a same-sex male couple that is looking to have children, they don't need to be penalized for family leave either.
Lorelei: That's right. Parental leave. Not maternal leave.
Dr. Kami: Exactly. So that's one thing. I know another thing that used to come up a lot when I was working in the university is this whole idea of having faculty mixers in the evening when those of us who have children need nights off. We have to find childcare. We can't be there long, we can't be there for the whole time, and not having that count against us, because that is what the make-up of our home is. We're healthcare providers for older parents, same thing, we can't be penalized because we can't come to something at night, because the night time, we need to be at home with the family that we are providing care for. And what it means to be single versus in a relationship in the workplace, and how the expectation is that if you're single, that means you got the hours, 'cause you don't have anybody to go home to. That is absolutely inappropriate and incorrect to think that way about single people. But being able to look at all of these things, and these are things that we don't necessarily take into consideration when it comes to looking at equity, because we don't see it as a problem. We don't see it as a problem. It's just... "Oh, that's just how it is." Of course, if you're single, we're gonna expect you to be at the mixer until 10 o'clock, but what if that single person doesn't want to be out until 10 o'clock? Does that now impact them being a team player? We use our systems as a way to justify whether or not we're a team player, and that can have issues in terms of equity work down the road, for me, that's how I see that.
Lorelei: So how can we start bringing more clarity to the conversation and doing the hard work, like creating pay equity, creating paternal leave equity, creating General equity for folks in the workforce, 'cause we all gotta go out and make those monies.
Dr. Kami: Yes, I think the first thing that we need to do is as organizations especially, not letting the mission statement be our justification for not doing the work. Because you write it on paper doesn't necessarily mean that day-to-day, that's what you're doing. I can say all day that I am for everybody. But if I'm only working with one group of people, am I really for everybody? One of the things that I think we have to really look at is equity as the mundane stuff that happens day-to-day at work. How the manager engages with me, how their employees, how the administration communicates what equity is supposed to look like, how HR develops the policies for hiring and retention and all of these different things. All of these things are part of equity work in order to make sure that the end goal is to be an equal opportunity employer. You can't just put EEO at the bottom of your applications, you can't just do that and then not have the positions and the policies in place to make sure that you're doing that. You can't say, "Oh, we accept a diverse pool of applicants," but then don't go to HSI serving institutions for entry level employees, or don't go to HBCUS looking for entry level employees. If you're not doing that work, then it's really just rhetoric. And we have to perform our rhetoric to make sure that we're actually doing the equity work.
Lorelei: Right. They're just talking the talk instead of walking the walk.
Dr. Kami: Yeah, yeah, and that's where we get into that convoluted area, right. 'Cause please don't accuse us of not walking the walk 'cause we got it on paper. It's our mission, right? I can think about that, especially right now, because now that the momentum has died down with all of these ideas around diversity and equity work, we're starting to see that organizations are moving back away from that work that they all did last summer. Everybody had a new and updated diversity statement.
Dr. Kami: So right now, where is the evidence that that change in your diversity statement is actually taking place in the workplace? That is where the equity process comes in, and you go back and say, we wrote this, we rewrote our mission statement in July of 2020 because of all the things that were happening. And now because of that, we have quantifiable evidence that we have made changes within our organization to address our mission statement.
Lorelei: Yeah, I know. Part of our process at this podcast is to take a quick sponsor break, so we will be right back to continue our conversation on equity and equality.
Sponsor: Hi, Barbie here from Moonray, husband and wife indie-pop duo. If you enjoy the intro music, we invite you to listen to our debut EP Honeymoon. Streaming now on all platforms. Visit www.moonray-music.com for more.
Lorelei: And we're back with Dr. Kami Anderson talking about the differences and distinctions between equity and equality. We cannot have this conversation without talking about our male counterparts.
Dr. Kami: We can't... You are correct.
Lorelei: So what is their role in this equity via equality conversation?
Dr. Kami: I think it's changed. I think it's changed because of Covid and... Let's blame everything on covid, right?
Dr. Kami: But seriously, because at this moment we've had to tele-work a lot more, what we're starting to see is that men are starting to see for the first time, what does it look like to have the daily demands of home and work sitting right there with you the whole day. The whole time.
Lorelei: The whole time...
Dr. Kami: So they're starting to look at and see this idea of balancing work and family very differently. We've seen the clips and of journalists, for example, the male journalist who's doing the Zoom call, trying to do it, he's reporting and the son or the baby girl runs in and jumps in their lap and they now have to finish their time with this child on their lap. And that's something they never have to worry about. Before, they've left, gone to work, done their thing, came home and they were ready and there we go. But now, because they're at home, they're really starting to see what that looks like, and I think that's having a huge impact on how they're starting to understand what it really means to do the equity work, because there's certain things that they now have to ask for in order to make sure that they can keep their job the way that they are accustomed to having it. You have to ask your spouse or a partner, "Hey, I've got this happening from 7 to 7:30, can you please make sure the kids don't come in the room when I'm doing that?" You have to vocalize and have conversations and communicate differently because of this whole idea of tele-workingting, which is really having the impact on them being a little bit more empathetic to how we're able to understand the equity work that needs to happen just at work, period. Because work is different now.
Lorelei: Right, 'cause there's other home duties that you're now responsible for and it's blending in so much to our work day.
Dr. Kami: Yes, yes, you find yourself... Your lunch break is washing the breakfast dishes, or you find yourself turning your camera off during that lunch time Zoom meeting because you've gotta eat this sandwich 'cause you have not eaten yet at all today. We wanna make sure that we're showing how this blend now is changing how we understand work, and because men also have to experience that, what ends up happening is they start to appreciate that work-family dynamic a little bit differently and start to understand that the flexibility of work is a little bit different than what they thought it was. So things like family arrangements, being able to look at these household duties, what does it look like to model equitable work and family now that you see for yourself up close and personal? 'Cause it's smacking you in the face every time you get on a Zoom call. And what does that mean then, in terms of how you understand what happens outside of the office. Your office is now your home, and it's no longer separate and apart. So because your office is now your home, you now understand what's really happening, and that level of empathy is really important in order for us to make sure that we're actually getting to that involuntarily because now these things are being considered that weren't considered before. It was just... Oh, well, they just have to get used to it. I've been told in the workplace, "that's what you get for choosing to be a mother."
Dr. Kami: No, no, no, no, no, 'cause I was not alone in that. So why is he not being asked to... "That's what you get for choosing to be a parent?" That conversation never happens, but because of this whole idea of blending work and life and working family, or understanding that our life is work and our work is life, there's no separation. And that's something that, as women, we've been doing all the time. We've been doing this since we entered the work force to begin with.
Lorelei: Since the beginning.
Dr. Kami: Exactly. And men didn't have to be held accountable to that thing, but now that we've got more tele-working, they're now saying, "Oh, wait a minute. Oh, this is what she was talking about when she said, Oh, this is what my partner was saying when they were expressing concerns about... " Now they're starting to get it, and it makes coming back to the table organizationally look very different because they now have personal experiences and we know that self-awareness helps with any conversation dealing with equity and inclusion.
Lorelei: Yeah. It's not your problem. Until it's your problem.
Dr. Kami: Right, exactly.
Lorelei: And that the burden, the primary burden of the household has not often been men's problem.
Dr. Kami: No, it hasn't, it hasn't. Even I think in terms of single parenting, there are ways in which the expectation is that more help and assistance is offered to the single father than to the single mother, and the single father is lauded. 'Cause I think in terms of... Even in transparency, going through my own process of family separation, there are ways in which my children's father, his family steps up for him way more, but the expectation is that I just need to take it because you're a mother and that's just what you do. Versus he gets a lot more assistance in terms of childcare and all of these different things, and that's just not afforded to me because you're the mom, you're the woman, you're supposed to do that.
Lorelei: Yeah, you know what you're going into.
Dr. Kami: Exactly.
Lorelei: This conversation about experience makes me think of an experience I had when I did a year of service in AmeriCorps. I remember our training leader opened up a conversation where someone tried to make an equality reference and they said, "You know, the same breeze blows on all of us in America." But if you're talking about equity, when you really think about it through that lens, how that breeze affects you depends on where you're standing. It depends on your gender, it depends on your ethnicity or your race, it depends on your socio-economic status when you're born. You don't get to choose a lot of things, we don't get to vote. We don't get to elect when we come into existence, so that same breeze touches us all a little bit differently.
Dr. Kami: It does, it absolutely does.
Lorelei: Clearly, that just creates a larger conversation, and I wanna hone it in very specifically for you, due to your academic background and the wonderful knowledge that you have. How do you think historical American white supremacy has informed the equity and equality narrative here in the United States?
Dr. Kami: The first thing that I think that historical narrative has done, is put those under-represented groups, those groups of different... I'm not gonna say "other"... Different social economic status as walking in with a deficit. It's almost as if you walk into a classroom full of children and you assume that all the children in the first row must need glasses because they're sitting in the first row, and you treat them as if they can't see, and you go through all of this extra work to make sure that things are bigger, and this, that and the other. So they can be able to read clearly, and you go through all of these efforts because you assume that the people in the first row needed glasses. That's why they were there. When really it could have just been alphabetical, and how does changing your entire teaching methodology to accommodate just those first two rows of students impact the ones in the back rows, it's not about just assuming deficit just because it doesn't look like you. It is not your experience. We cannot assume that different experience means deficits, and I think a lot of times with that historical white supremacist narrative, the assumption is that if it is non-white middle class, it is therefore disadvantaged. As opposed to, "No, the system is set up where I'm sitting in a ditch and you're all on flat ground. So how do we now make sure that we fill my ditch so that we're both flat ground?" 'Cause you're looking at me like, "Oh, poor you, you're so short," no. We're both six feet tall. I just need you to level this ground so you can see that we're both six feet tall and quite capable, and that's important. And I think that's where that narrative goes for me. When I think about that, I think about the ways in which we see those of us that are different as being disadvantaged or somehow unable or incapable, when really, you just have to make sure that it's set up in a way where the systems don't look at us as deficits, but look at us as equally capable, equally powerful, equally adaptable to whatever it is is being called for, you just gotta make sure we're not standing in a hole.
Lorelei: Excellent, thank you. So when we're setting up these systems, what can be measured, can be managed, what are some of the criteria for measuring equity?
Dr. Kami: Let's go broad and come down to more specifics. In a broad sense, an example is that law is fair and equitable. Who are the people at the table to determine that law is fair and equitable? Who is making the decisions? That's what it all boils down to. We have these conversations amongst those of us who are people of color in diversity and equity work, there are a lot of conversations about equity and inclusion, but you're not including us in the conversation, so you're giving us all of these tools of how to be more inclusive but you're not including the very people that you want to include in what works and what doesn't work? Who are the decision makers, how are you measuring that you're getting fair and balanced voice? If you wanna talk about equality in one space, talk about equality of representation in terms of being able to have these discussions, are you making sure that there's a fair and balanced distribution of folks, and I'm not saying that you grab the one person of color who also happens to be a woman, or the one person who identifies as LGBTQ, who also happens to be Latino. We're not talking about that. We need to have a set voice for each and what each and every one of those groups representing those different groups, not just one person. Not in one body. So that's the first thing that we wanna look at, and then that brings us down to the how's. And how do we look at how we know whether or not the policies are being applied equally in a fair and just manner? Are we creating these laws that are saying, "Hey, if you do something wrong, you have to get punished for it, but the punishment is now unequal." Are we looking at policies and procedures that say, at work, you are not allowed to come in late for work more than three times in a quarter. And not acknowledging the fact that you might have a parent who has a child with special needs. And you can't just put that demand on to them, because if that child has a meltdown, it's gonna be more than three in a quarter. And how then are you gonna balance and understand and have that level of empathy. So it's not just who's making the decisions, but what does it look like to make sure that you're applying those practices and those policies and those rules that you're coming into place in a way that's gonna make sure that everybody is being impacted fairly by it?
Lorelei: Well, on the note of who's making the decisions, I would just quickly like to share that our current Congress, the 117th Congress, is currently 77% White, non-Hispanic, which is considerably larger than their 60% share of the overall US population. So we already know going into those big legal conversations, legislative conversations, the table at which people are sitting is not equitable to begin with.
Dr. Kami: And we see it 'cause this whole thing with juvenile justice, come on now, come on now. And none of those people work in juvenile justice, none of those people have ever been a juvenile in trouble, well, some of them have and they just forgot. But we're not gonna go into that. But being able to understand that when you make yourself a representative or a voice of people, but do not include all of the people in your thought process, it's very difficult. I think if we were to break that down in terms of where they sit on the social economic scale, it would look extremely disparate compared to what the average American has, and what then happens when you've got all these folks with money making decisions for folks who don't have it.
Lorelei: Speaking of the haves and have nots, what are some of the criteria for measuring equality?
Dr. Kami: A lot of times what we're finding is that... And it goes back to this whole conversation when we were talking about just our mission statement being our measuring stick as opposed to our work... Is the people who are more adept at changing, creating and manipulating words in a way that sounds very poetic, powerful and prose-like, they are the ones that are also in a higher privilege capacity. So it's easy to be poetic about something that you don't experience because you've removed yourself from it. So when you start to talk about these things around equality and what it means to have the equity work happen in the midst equality, you have the have's determining what the language should look like, but then you have the have not's doing the front work. And if the have not's are disagreeing with the prose, it makes it hard to do the equity work because the have's want you to do what they want as opposed to what is needed, and that difficulty makes it hard to be able to bring the two together into the marriage that they're supposed to be.
Lorelei: That's such a great descriptor for the challenges that we're facing right now. And obviously we are facing some really major challenges as a state, as a nation, as a country, as a globe, like global citizenry, we're having struggles. Major equity and equality struggles on so many different spheres and so many different planes, and we can't solve all these problems today, but we can kick off little conversations, tiny conversations to move the needle forward. And that's what we're doing today. I really appreciate all of the insight you've brought to this conversation. So for those of us who would like to deepen our understanding of equity and equality and what these things could look like and hopefully will look like in the future, do you have some resources that you would recommend for us to check out?
Dr. Kami: What I like to do when I recommend resources is recommending scholars who you wouldn't necessarily think about when it comes to being able to introduce this idea and this understanding of equity. So one of the first ways you can be able to really understand what equity work looks like is to read the folks who are doing that work. And for me, I look at women as scholars in particular. I'm thinking in terms of Patricia Hill Collins, I'm thinking in terms of Katie Geneva Cannon, being able to look at a more contemporary, you have Dr, Melva Sampson. You have all of these women, these scholars who's whole job as women in scholarship is to look at this whole idea of equity and equality and community, and what does it look like to do that. But I would encourage anybody to just do, even if it's just initial Google search of women as scholars, and read it and really invite it. Don't just say, Oh, this is great. This all good, right? Actually really look at what are the critical questions that they're asking, and when you see the questions that they're asking, ask yourself the same question, can I answer that question for my life? What Katie Geneva Cannon's saying is, "Hey, you need to make sure that when you are doing thw work, say, in a spiritual sense, in a religious sense, that the voice of women need to be heard. Do you read the Bible in a way that centers the woman's voice?" If you're looking at Patricia Hill Collins and the way that she talks about how Black women need to be centered in a particular way, do you include black women in how you're considering your decision-making process? Something as small as just looking at women as scholars would be a huge start to see what equity looks like because they're doing the work and they've been doing the work. So just read them to see what they've been doing.
Lorelei: Alright, folks, ladies, we're gonna start doing the work, we're gonna check 'em out, we will list all of those amazing authors and scholars in the show notes for this episode.
Dr. Kami: Cite like women, I love it.
Lorelei: Absolutely, absolutely. We are all about showcasing amazing powerful women in this show, and you are a great example of that, so thank you. As we do to wrap our episode, we're gonna transition to our femme fact. Today we're gonna be talking about breaking some barriers as women and we've been doing a lot of that in the professional world throughout all walks of life, and this has recently included some major league baseball barriers. Last year, Jessica Mendoza became the first analyst for nationally televised MLB games as part of the ESPN radio team. Also in 2020, Kim Ng became not only the first woman, but the second person of Asian descent to lead a Major League baseball team, becoming the General Manager of the Miami Marlins. Raquel Ferreira became the highest ranking woman in baseball operations in 2019 when she became the executive VP and assistant general manager of the Boston Red Sox. All the while being the senior VP of major and minor league operations for the team. Back in 2006, Effa Manley became the first woman to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, 60 years after her team, the Newark Eagles won the 1946 Negro World Series.
Continuing with our digression through history, I'd like for you to envision the time when duck tape and Velcro had just been invented, when M and M's were the newest candy to hit the market, you'd probably be listening to the sultry voice of Frank Sinatra on the radio and perhaps having just seen Casablanca in theaters: "Of all the gin joints in all the world, he had to walk into mine." Am I right, ladies... Well, I am talking specifically about 1943. Towards the end of World War II, when most men over the ripe age of 18 had trickled out of most other occupations for that matter, to serve in the war effort. Back then, baseball was America's favorite sport, not a past time, if you noticed, I said favorite sport, and big name stadiums that relied on men's baseball games to draw in the crowds had started struggling financially. MLB owner of the Chicago Cubs, Philip Wrigley was prompted to come up with a solution to save these baseball parks across the nation from going out of business, and as is common in crisis, men often turn to women as their saving grace. And thus the glorious substitute to men's Major League Baseball was born, the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, we're gonna call it the AAGPBL for short, and I know that's not really short. As is with the establishment of any novel phenomenon, the GPBL faced its challenges, the largest of which was finding women who were exceptional at hitting baseballs with bats, very hard. Which I strongly believe there's never been a shortage of, but this did become an interesting ask for Wrigley to undertake as the only baseball-like sport at the time that women were playing was softball, which is pretty familiar.
But there are a few differences both in style of play and in the field, so softball players became the dominant pool of candidates during player recruitment and team formation, and luckily, these highly skilled athletes regularly recruited throughout America and Canada acclimated quickly to the rules of the MLB. Prior to the 1940s, women playing baseball was practically unheard of, so drawing attention to the semi-new sport became a true challenge to peak the curiosity of the public. These newly formed women's teams were managed by notable men who had either coached, played or managed in the MLB prior to the war, but they were not eligible for service. And as women's history often cannot evade the powerful marketing tool of sexism and hyper-sexualization, the GPBL was no exception. Femininity was highly valued in advertising, all the female players were required to attend etiquette classes and go to the salons after practice to maintain their feminine appearance. Their uniforms consisted of short skirts or silk shorts. Yes, silk shorts, and form fitting tops inspired by attire worn by female figure skaters. And if you all remember the movie A League of Their Own, I recommend a watch. It's a pretty decent kind of recollection of this time. So disappointing to think about these marketing employees proved to be successful.
Women's Baseball became a hit, and it probably doesn't come as much of a surprise that the sport helped us through the difficult war times as we were struggling as a nation burdened with rising death tolls, fiscal challenges, rationing, the absence of so many of our fellow Americans abroad and so forth. At the height of the GPBL in 1948, they attracted nearly one million paid fans during the season, and that was a really big number back then, y'all. At that time, there were only 10 teams in the league. They had started with four. Back in 1943, the GPBL was making so much revenue that the individual players were often making higher salaries than many of their working parents in highly skilled occupations, like engineers, attorneys and those in medicine. And the players salaries... Keep your socks on for this... The player salaries ranged from like 45 to 85 plus dollars a week, which again a substantial amount of money in the 1940s, post-war economy. Even though the GPBL only lasted from 1943 to 1954, they made an indelible mark on history as evidenced by the continuing achievements of women, like Raquel Ferreira and Kim Ng. There are still bases to run and home runs to be hit in each and every one of your professional lives. So don't be shy. Ladies, step up to the plate and take a swing. Who knows when you're gonna hit your next career home run. Kami, you knocked it out of the park today. Thank you so much for your time and your energy. It has been a treat.
Dr. Kami: Always enjoy conversations with you. I do, and thank you so much for having me.
Lorelei: It was our honor. If you enjoyed the show, please subscribe and you're welcome to leave a review and you can send us an email to [email protected] [dot] org, and yes, I'll list that email in the show notes cause it's wicked long. But this show hasn't been wicked long, it's been wicked short. It's been so good. Time flies when you're having fun. So I will see you next time. My name is Lorelei. This was HERdacious. Get out there and hit your next homerun.