An Evening with Gretchen Carlson

When we think of successful women, we think of our respect for them and everything they did to get where they are in their lives and careers. It is sad that, we as society choose to overlook the truth of what many women have to endure in their personal and workplace environments in order to succeed or "get their foot in the door."

On Thursday, March 29, I attended the University of Texas at Arlington Maverick Speaker Series with Gretchen Carlson. Not only was Carlson Miss America 1989, but a former TV host, broadcast journalist, political commentator, author of two books, wife, mother of two, and is now the chairwoman of the Miss America organization. Reflecting on her life and experiences she spoke about women's empowerment, the flawed system of women's safety, and women’s voice in the workplace.

Photo By: Lindsey Baumgartner

When Carlson was writing her New York Times Bestseller book, Be Fierce, she spoke to many women of several different backgrounds and careers. The one consistent theme in their stories was sexual harassment. . "Harassment can happen to any woman, and it does every day," Carlson said onstage. "So it turns out it doesn't matter if you're an executive, a student, an actor, young or old, black or white, gay or straight, democrat or republican. But this diversity is our source of our power.” Carlson stated.

Carlson eloquently and bluntly spoke on another major issue. Women are being told they can be whatever they want to be, yet their treatment in their field can ruin their career or make them quit. This is a vicious cycle of pain, shame, and guilt that women face that should not be happening.

Be Fierce is not only Carlson’s book, it is a cultural movement. In 2016, when Gretchen Carlson filed a sexual harassment complaint against Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, there was no #MeToo or #TimesUp movements on social media or on the streets of our cities. Carlson spoke on how she felt very alone in the midst of this very personal moment on national news within the public eye.

"I was used to reporting the news, not being on the news," Carlson expressed.

Unfortunately, this was not Carlson's first experience with sexual assault or harassment. She described two instances into detail of her younger years. These moments are brutal and can stick with a persons for years. Carlson said it took her a quarter of a century to stand up and speak up, and after 26 years she was ready.

Photo By: Lindsey Baumgartner

         After listening to Gretchen Carlson onstage, I was completely struck by her honesty. Not only did she speak on her experiences, but she also gave numbers on several instances on women in the workplace and sexual harassment. To name a few:

 ⁃ One in every 73 seconds a woman is sexually assaulted.

 ⁃ Women contribute 7.6 trillion to America's GDP every year.

 ⁃ 20 percent of undergraduate women experience sexual assault.

 ⁃ Only 12.5 percent of previously mentioned undergraduate women will report it.

I purchased a copy of Be Fierce before the session, and afterwards I had my copy signed by her. She was kind, respectful, and very poised. I admire her courage to speak on an issue so many others are not in the position or are too afraid to speak up for. Carlson speaks for many women, and I am so glad I chose to listen.