“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me?”
The first time Minnesota hosted a Super Bowl, it was January 26, 1992. The Washington Redskins met the Buffalo Bills at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome for Super Bowl XXVI, with the Redskins on top 37–24. The Vikings weren’t playing in that one, either, but in anticipation of visiting hordes of football fans eager to experience winter, the St. Paul Winter Carnival constructed its tallest Ice Palace ever (166 feet tall, still the record holder). The Carnival organizers also held the annual crowning of the royal court, presided over by King Boreas and the Queen of the Snows. And at that event, I joined a protest outside the doors of the St. Paul RiverCentre, in subzero temperatures, among impatient attendees who mostly thought we were just being killjoys.
We were not protesting the formation of a royal family. What we had asked carnival organizers was why, with King Boreas chosen for his long-term service to his community, the Queen of the Snows was a beauty contest for women in their late teens and early 20s? Were there no (beautiful) mature women serving their community? We were told that a woman in her fifties would be “too tired” to handle those duties. We got annoyed. We also got cold, which didn’t help matters much.
When IFAI announced that it would host its first-ever Women in Textiles Summit next March (www.ifai.com/women), oddly enough, this experience was the first thing that came to mind. Things change. But I doubt that anyone could seriously say that there isn’t still an imbalance between women and men when it comes to the workplace, for a wide variety of societal, economic, political and professional reasons. And in situations where there is no imbalance, there are still differences.
More women than ever before are starting their own businesses—but do they have equal access to credit? Are these new businesses among the “growth markets”? Do women business owners pay themselves fairly? Do they hire more women, and pay them fairly? Do successful women in the textile industry manage their operations, and lead their employees, in distinct ways? What kinds of background, education and training are most beneficial to women in our industry?
The summit is intended to “inspire a community of established and emerging leaders within the textile industry.” I don’t yet know the list of speakers, topics and events that will take place next March at the Hyatt Regency in Savannah. IFAI’s call for presentations is now open; if you’re interested in speaking at the summit, please email Jill Newman at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re interested in attending the summit, event details and registration should be available on the website by the time you’re interrupting your business at IFAI Expo to read this editorial.
And by next March, I’ll have more details on how the 2019 St. Paul Winter Carnival is handling its royalty these days.