Tenacity and having a positive outlook despite the odds are the common traits of the successful women who presented at The Rose Bowl Women’s Empowerment Symposium earlier this week.
Among the illustrious women on hand Tuesday at the Rose Bowl event were City Councilwoman Margaret McAustin, Dr. Betty Uribe who hosted and moderated, Olympian Ann Meyers Drysdale, who gave the lunchtime keynote speech, and Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger.
“There are 99 of you here today to honor the 1999 Women’s’ World Cup champions,” McAustin told the crowd of high school and college women invited to attend the symposium. “The 1999 Women’s World Cup Team celebrates the 20th anniversary of its championship game and on Wednesday a statue was unveiled at the Rose Bowl commemorating the achievement.
“That moment of victory, like the moment of victory we shared in Sunday’s game, will stay with us forever,” McAustin said. “The challenge for women today is not only to seize the moment but to leverage it into a new reality. When women are the majority on corporate boards, in government, in science, in the arts and even in sports, you, the leaders of the next generation will make that happen. This is an historic moment for women, not just women in sports but for women across the world. This is our moment.”
Olympic basketball player Anne Meyers Drysdale is a Hall of Fame Athlete and Sports Broadcaster, who spoke. One of 11 children, she said growing up in a big family gave her a few very personal role models, including her brother Dave Meyers, the famous UCLA basketball champion.
She played seven sports in high school, but it wasn’t until she read a book on Babe Didricksen Zaharias did she become truly inspired.
“Reading this book on this woman gave me the dream to be an Olympian,” she said. She said she loved track and field and believed she would go to the Olympics as a high jumper.
“You are a role model, what you’re doing will impact somebody else,” Drysdale told the group. “We need women to support women. Sometimes there are going to be ‘firsts.’ Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”
County Supervisor Kathryn Barger said that she learned how to negotiate for a raise after trial and error.
“When I started with the county, I started as an intern working for the County Supervisor and I was in college at the time so during the summer I worked in the field office,” she said. “When I was hired as a permanent employee I didn’t ask for a raise for six years, and when I went in and finally talked to my boss, he said ‘I was waiting for you to ask.’ That was the way it was 30 years ago. It’s important for you to advocate for yourself because no one else is going to. And the worst thing they can say is no, and your response should be ‘Tell me what I need to do to earn that raise’ if they feel you’re not ready.”
The event was a precursor to the unveiling of the second commemorative statue at the Rose Bowl Stadium. All the women who were at the symposium were invited to the statue reveal. “The 99ers” had a big impact on many, particularly Hon. Kim McLane Wardlaw, United States Federal Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
McLane Wardlaw said it was important to her to bring her daughter to see “The 99ers.” Even though at the time, her daughter was only 4 years old.
“I, like tens of thousands of Americans was amazed by the phenomenal success of the 1999 Women’s National team and I wanted my then 4-year old daughter to watch them in action, and to be inspired by their achievements,” she said. “So here we came, along with some 90,000 fans. After the game, President Clinton who had attended with First Lady Hilary Clinton and their daughter Chelsea, predicted ‘This game will have a bigger impact than people ever realized and it will have a far reaching impact not only in the United States but also in other countries.’
“Like me, the 1999 US Women’s National team did not emerge full grown as World Cup champions,” she said. “From the very beginning, The women soccer had to fight for gender equity not just for equal payment, but in all aspects of the game, including training and medical travel and workplace conditions and even money for food, the women had to stand up to a worldwide bias that the womens’ game would never be as good as the man’s. Yet the 99ers met those challenges with resilience and were well prepared to take the world stage in 1999.”
Wei Zhang, president of China-based Alibaba Pictures, said technology enables people today to have experiences her generation wasn’t afforded. She also said that it was crucial to always keep a positive attitude.
“The one thing that helped me with my job is when you get into a new culture, be a ‘glass half full’-type of person,” she said. “At times it can seem very difficult try to see the glass is half full not half empty. Also, before you make a big decision, sleep on it, not make it right away.”
She added that traveling the world and having a helping attitude works wonders.
“Working with partners in Hollywood I realize how little they know about the world out there in China,” she said. “Not every business meeting is about an objective or a deal. Sometimes you are there to help people to understand as much as possible.”