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International Women's Day 2016: A Pledge For Parity

The social, economic and political achievements of women will be celebrated today for  International Women’s Day.

This year’s theme is pledge for parity.

The theme was inspired by the  World Economic Forum’s predictions that, at current pace, the world will not close the global gender wage gap for another 117 years.

So, what are the issues facing women today in Las Vegas?

Cathy Brooks owns the Hydrant Club downtown, a doggie day care, park and training facility. Before that, she spent many years in public relations and marketing for technology firms in San Francisco.

Brooks told KNPR’s State of Nevada that when she first started in the tech industry she was often the only woman in the room. She was even asked by an executive at a meeting to get him coffee.

One of the reasons she left that world to run a place for dogs in downtown Las Vegas was to avoid the male executives in the tech world.

“I was just sick and tired of feeling like I was fighting against a tide and thought the best thing to do was go row my own boat,” she said.

Dana Dwiggins understands well what it is like to make her way in a world that has traditionally been dominated by men. She is a lawyer and a partner with Solomon, Dwiggins and Freer.

Dwiggins said when she first started out some of the older male attorneys would assume she was the court reporter when she walked into the deposition rather than the lawyer. However, she also believes that hard work and dedication can overcome that gender bias.

“I’ve never looked at myself in the context of my gender in my profession,” she said, “And I think it’s just how much confidence you display in your own abilities that helps contribute to your success as well as the dedication that you’re willing to make.”

Despite their successes in their respect worlds, both women agree that women are perceived differently than men in terms of behavior.

“When a woman is forthright, direct and strong, she’s called a bitch,” Brooks said, “She’s called pushy. She’s called aggressive where a man lauded for his standing up for himself and taking charge.”

Tracy Wakefield is a doctor and medical director for Healthcare Partners. She agrees that behaviors considered appropriate by men is would be out of line for women.

Wakefield said it goes beyond just poor peer reviews at work. She said it can impact a woman’s health.

“Women are much less likely to present to an emergency room early in the signs of a heart attack mostly because they’re afraid of being labeled as hysterical,” she said, “There’s a lot of evidence that shows women present with heart attack symptoms later than men, which leads to the fact that we die from heart attacks more often than men do.”

Brooks believes woman have to understand that being powerful can mean different things and displaying that power can be different as well.

“It is a much different kind strength,” she said, “I think that if there is anything that we can bring its bringing that strength and bringing that out in each other as women.”

Dana Dwiggins, partner, Solomon, Dwiggins and Freer; Tracy Wakefield, medical director, Healthcare Partners; Cathy Brooks, Hydrant Club

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