Register for “Own Your Own Football: Conflict Communication and Resolution Strategies”

Join us for de la Femme’s kickoff event on September 28. The topic will be on Conflict Communication and Resolution Strategies for successful professional management.

What you say and do matters for the outcome you want in any given situation.  Whether at the workplace or in our personal lives, we have all been through scenarios where communication barriers result in negative and costly outcomes.  There is always a time, when you need to listen and a time to speak up for yourself.  Ever wonder when is the time to speak and when to listen?  Oliver Wendell Homes Sr. once said, “It is the province of knowledge to speak and it is the privilege of wisdom to listen.”  Join us with Michele Whitham to learn the insights/skills of successful professional self-management and hone in some practical workplace conflict resolution strategies.


Date/Time: Wednesday, September 28, 2016, at 6 PM.

Location: The Broad Institute, Kendall Sq, Cambridge, MA.

Dinner and drinks will be provided.  Registration is required, sign-in upon arrival.

Register at (Early registration by 9/21 for $10! Register Now)

Visit our website!  

Read a story about conflict communication by one of our members:


Michele Whitham

Michele Whitham is an established employment and privacy lawyer, community leader and owner of Whitham Law LLC, serving clients in Massachusetts, the United States and worldwide. She is a former Co-Managing Partner of Foley Hoag LLP, where she practiced for twenty-five years, and is a well-known lawyer who has been recognized nationally for her accomplishments.

Her many accolades include recently being listed in The Best Lawyers in America® for Employment Law – Management, co-leading the launch of the inaugural Women’s Bar Association of Massachusetts’ Women’s Leadership Initiative, and being named one of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly’s Top Women in the Law. Michele is a 2015-2016 Inductee into the National Association of Professional Women and the Association’s VIP Woman of the Year Circle; a director of the Partnership Inc. (promoting diversity in management ranks).


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RESET Your Stress Event with Dr. Kristen Lee Costa


Dr. Kris has been a clinical practitioner for over 20 years. In that time, she noticed that people would come to her only at a point of crisis, particularly when they were “oversaturated with stress.” From her practice and experiences working with her patients, she gained insight into how various institutions affect well-being and physical health; these insights prompted the question “how do we sustain ourselves through complexity?” Various online resources will provide what she referred to as a “cookie-cutter” solution, such as “Five Easy Steps to De-Stress Your Life.” While a quick solution such as this might provide immediate respite, the solution doesn’t provide a sustainable, renewable method of dealing with stress and complexity. Moreover, every individual regards and handles stress differently, so a one-size-fits-all option is not a viable solution. Enter “RESET,” Dr. Kris’ method of self-care. Simply stated, Dr. Kris’ RESET method of self-care builds upon introspection and helps you to carve out a space that enables you to engage in a productive self-care strategy; importantly, this method can be tailored, modified, and adapted to the individual and their needs.

Our event started with a discussion on the definition of “Resilience.” Many incisive contributions came from the interactive audience and Dr. Kris added a new facet to the term that resounded with the audience: resilience is a process that “helps us to adapt.” Resilience is paramount in not only surviving, but also thriving, while navigating through complexity. One example of complexity that was discussed at length—and both women and men in the audience could identify with—was what Dr. Kris referred to as “Institutionalized –isms.” Examples of these inimical “-isms” are racism, sexism, culturalism, ageism, and manifest in the way we respond to the people’s perceptions of us based on their biases and attitudes. The RESET method helps one to become cognizant of the “isms” at play, to adapt within the complexity, and avoid frustration while maintaining the ability to navigate this complexity.

How does one cultivate resilience? How does one cultivate strength and the ability to bounce back? A cookie-cutter approach to dealing with stress is to “squash it,” but this doesn’t truly eliminate it. In fact, this cookie-cutter approach, as Dr. Kris suggested, might actually perpetuate stress. One component to Dr. Kris’ approach to dealing with stress is to recontextualize it. Instead of viewing stress as a wholly negative or antipathetic entity, realize that it can be a powerful teacher that can help cultivate resilience. Change and flux are part of the human condition and natural occurrences in life, and may occur more frequently in the lives of those who enjoy challenging themselves, are driven, and self-motivated. In this context, stress can be a “sign of conscientiousness” (e.g., you worry about doing your job well because you care about doing your job well), and can provide new perspectives and growth that the aforementioned “squashing” would’ve otherwise precluded. Harnessing stress in a new way helps you build “emotional muscle” that strengthens your inner grit and resilience, and ability to be self-sustainable. While the concept of harnessing stress seems paradoxical and counterintuitive to self-sustainability, understanding the context of the stress, knowing the change you can effect within it, and having a personalized RESET method enables you to harness stress, learn, and grow in a self-sustainable way (be sure to read more on this topic, specifically “natural stress” versus anxiety, in Dr, Kris’ book “RESET: Make the Most of Your Stress, Your 24-7 Plan for Well-Being”).

A key component to maintaining your resilience and self-care is “Emotional First Aid.” Dr. Kris states that emotional first aid is the preventative [self-]care that “helps avoid disaster”—don’t neglect yourself! Proper “emotional hygiene” allows you to become efficient and prevent burnout. The RESET method teaches you proper emotional hygiene through time management to find spaces for self-care.


So what is this RESET method? Without giving too much away (I highly recommend you read the book—it has changed my life profoundly for the better!), RESET is




End unproductive thinking

Talk it out


Oftentimes stress triggers a raw, visceral reaction, or the “primary appraisal.” Trying to problem-solve or make sense of things in this stage is dangerous because thinking patterns often lead to self-sabotage and intense frustration. In this stage, Dr. Kris urges you to be cognizant of the primary appraisal stage and to not let its effects affect you. After waiting it out, you enter the “secondary appraisal” stage that allows you to get a sense of the resources available to you, to avail yourself to these resources so that you can lean on them, learn from them, and gather more information. This allows you to build better behavioral and thought patterns and harness the stress in a new and productive way. Furthermore, this process is important for those with Impostor syndrome, which is prevalent amongst high-achieving women. For those with Impostor syndrome, bolstering your appraisal process is key in realizing your value and resources at hand.


Mind-body wellness is important. Movement of the body affects your ability to reason and process, your mood, and memory. Movement can also help bring anxiety down to a normal level. Also, sleep is necessary, as it provides the body with an opportunity for recalibration. Sleep-deprivation has serious consequences and the RESET method helps you to be more efficient so that you can carve out time for sleep. In addition to moving and sleeping regularly, nutritional value is important, as the body needs to receive “the right signals and messages” from what you consume.


Our generation is the first to die faster from “lifestyle diseases” than from communicable/infectious diseases. This is why energizing our bodies and giving them a chance to recalibrate, and knowing how to soothe our bodies properly are absolutely essential to our self-care. Soothing can be as easy as taking a walk, unclenching your fists, or smelling the proverbial flowers. Maladaptive soothing, such as participating in impulsive or destructive behaviors, can occur and it does not help the body recalibrate.

End unproductive thinking

Dr. Kris discussed “rumination,” a term she described as “a negative emotional state where we chew on fixed thoughts or ideations and keep chewing on them.” Rumination robs us of opportunities for productive thinking and ultimately depletes us. Recognizing when rumination occurs and setting boundaries and limits to it is important in self-care.

Talk it out

Becoming overwhelmed by stress and participating in counterproductive processes like rumination can leave us feeling lonely and isolated. Oftentimes in isolation, negativity is suppressed, which causes it to fester. Talking it out involves finding a community of like-minded, supportive people, people that “get you,” and mentors that you are comfortable conversing with, being inquisitive and learning from. Naysayers and “dream bashers” will always be out there, so finding a community that bolsters you is an important part of self-care and defeating negative habits and thought processes.

The RESET method empowers you in a very unique and edifying way. As Dr. Kris stated, it gives you “permission to say ‘when we struggle, we can find resources, and connect in thoughtful ways, rather than depleting ourselves and burning out.’”

The event was simply amazing. Dr. Kris is a gifted speaker and an empowering, motivational, and genuine woman. It was a pleasure to host her and a privilege to learn from her. I think it’s safe to say that everyone in the audience left inspired, empowered, and equipped to RESET and successfully navigate all complexity!


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May 7: Can You Work And Have A Life?

Thursday, May 7: Can You Work And Have A Life?

Paula Rayman HeadshotRecently, the book Lean-In challenged women to be more assertive in their workplaces in order to better able to climb the ladder of success. However, through blogs and twitters, thousands of women have responded with compelling reasons why this is counter-productive to a woman’s well-being, and instead offered the prescription to reject male patterns of power-over with an ethic of power-with. Others noted the importance of focusing on changing public policies and corporate practices that would give both women and men more choices about work-life balance throughout the life course.   We are excited to have Professor Paula Rayman, author of Beyond the Bottom Line: The Search for Dignity at Work, a world renowned scholar and Senior Fulbright Award recipient, who will lead a conversation on the work-life equation.

Date/Time: Thursday, May 7, 2015 at 6 PM
Location: The Broad Institute (Olympus Room), Kendall Sq, Cambridge, MA
Dinner and drinks will be provided.

Register at Eventbrite: Registration is required, sign-in upon arrival.

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Paula Rayman, Ph.D., is Professor of Sociology at University of Massachusetts Lowell. She is Director of the Middle East Center for Peace, Development, and Culture and Executive Director of the public sector hub of the Women in Public Service Project. She was the Founding Director of the Peace and Conflict Studies program at UMass Lowell.

Dr. Rayman is a Senior Fulbright Award recipient. In 2014, she led trainings on non-violent social action for a coalition of Israeli and Palestinian women leaders and spoke at the United States Embassy in Israel as part of the Distinguished American Speaker series. Her new project with United States Institute of Peace is focused on the implementation of United Nation Resolution 1325 and development of National Action Plans to combat violence against women.

Dr. Rayman is also a nationally recognized scholar in the field of work organization, labor, and public policy. She is the author of Beyond the Bottom Line: The Search for Dignity at Work.  She was the founding director of the Radcliffe Public Policy Center at Harvard University. Rayman has also worked extensively on issues related to women and science. She was the Principal Investigator for the National Science Foundations Project Women and Techforce and WORKING WISE (Women in Science and Engineering). She is the co-author of The Equity Equation.   She was the recipient of the Pathways for Women in Sciences award from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Professor Rayman has been recognized for her leadership on advancing women in STEM from many organizations including the Weizmann Institute, Israel, the 1995 United Nations Woman and Science Tent, Beijing, and the Council on Competitiveness, Washington D.C.
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Selected Publications:

  • From Birmingham to Budrus: Nonviolent Resistance in Conflicted Regions. Dorothy Cotton Institute, Cornell University, In Progress 2013
  • The Eight Peace Pillars: A More Inclusive Approach to Building Positive Peace.
  • Co-authored with Suyheang Kry, Peace and Conflict Studies Program, University of Massachusetts Lowell, In Progress 2013
  • Working WISE: Intergenerational Voices of Women in STEM Fields. National Science Foundation, Washington D.C. 2009.
  • Beyond Coexistence: Israeli Jewish-Arab Relations. Fulbright Senior Project. University of Haifa, Israel. 2008.
  • Beyond the Bottom Line: The Search for Dignity at Work, Palgrave St. Martin’s Press, New York, 2001.

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Six Tips for Women Reentering the Workforce

You put it off. Going back to work. You worry, Have I been away too long? Do I still have relevant skills? The prospect of reentering the workforce can be daunting for many women but it doesn’t have to be. The economy is improving, unemployment is the lowest it has been in eight years and with the dawn of social media, there are more options than ever. So how do you begin? Here are six ways to help women take that first step back.

1. Network. This cannot be overstated. Create a profile on Linkedin. Contact your former colleagues, your former classmates, neighbors, people you have volunteered with, any contact you can think of. Invite them for coffee. Conduct informational interviews. You never know what it will lead to.

2. Change your thinking. You didn’t just “help the PTO run the spring social”, you organized an event for 500 people that generated revenue for a non-profit organization, you managed vendors and coordinated a team of 30 volunteers. Rethink how you spent your time away from the workforce. It all counts.

3. Be fluid. Opportunities come in many forms. Your skills may be transferrable to a role in an industry you have never worked in before. Consider temping or contract work. Often times getting in the door leads to bigger opportunities.

4. Do your research. The internet provides a bounty of information on job training, skill development and resources for your job search. Get a notebook and your laptop and do some investigating. What interests you? What kind of hours do you want to work? Create a “job profile” for yourself so you have a place to start.

5. Find a mentor. What prompts you to change something in your life? Inspiration. You see something or hear something that inspires you to make a change. The same thing applies to a job search. Having someone who serves as an inspiration is invaluable. A mentor can be a sounding board, a role model and a coach. Identify a person or several people who help provide that spark.

6. Take a chance. Nothing comes from inaction. You may find that your new job is where you least expect it. You may discover a hidden talent or find more personal fulfillment in that great new role. The reality is, without taking that first step, you will never know.

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The windy, curvy road to success

After reading an article written by Nathaniel Koloc for the Harvard Business Review (1) about being successful, I took a step back to think about my own road to success.  Was it as easy as many movies had lent me to believe it would be (Hello, Legally Blonde!); or was it a windy road full of obstacles that led me to become the person I am today?

Of course, it was a no brainer. I was a “windy-road” sort of girl. The road to success is never easy, but it is nonetheless very meaningful.

So what are the keys to success? Nathaniel provided quite a bit of advice on the topic in his own article (1), so I will just add a few of my own which I think we should all think about:

Be goal-oriented. Most of us have no idea what we would want to do for the rest of our lives. And that’s OK! I think this is most prevalent in women finishing with their PhDs in the biological sciences (of course, I am speaking from personal experience amongst me and my friends). Now that we have our PhDs, what do we do? Rather than thinking what do I do, think what CAN I do. Ladies (and gentlemen), you have gotten this far. You were driven, motivated and goal-oriented. And keeping those skills and using them in your new professional life can only help. So if you want to use your degree to, say, teach children about science, then research how you can get there.  Talk to other people in the area and network.

Talk to people. If you are interested in any sort of job, try to reach out to as many people as you can to learn more about it. For example, if you have always wanted to be a nurse, why not talk to the nurse at your doctor’s office about hers (or his) job?  If you are in the sciences, talk to more people at conferences. And don’t be nervous or scared.  The fact of the matter is that most other people are just as nervous or as scared as you.  Be outgoing, chat, and learn about what they do. At worst, they just won’t talk to you. At best, you have managed to get a new contact.

Network, network, network. They don’t have seminars on this for nothing, folks.  Networking is one of the most important tools we have in our job-search arsenal. Not only does it help you learn more about your prospective new job, but it also “adds a face to a name” when you are applying for jobs. Let’s say you talked to person X at a meeting. Months later, you send person X an email about this-that-or-another. The chances of you getting a response are much higher because this person will remember you.

Get started now. While it may seem like a daunting task, just simply doing a Google search or sending an email will not only bring you one step closer to getting the job you want, but it will also relieve some of the stress and concern with job searching. Why? Because you have started doing something. The worst that can happen? You don’t get a response. However, sending multiple emails will increase your chances of hearing back and learning more about your potential future career.

You can always change your job. The best advice I have ever received about careers was from my cousin, actually. As I was looking for jobs last year, he told me “Monica, do the job you want to do now. You can always change later.”  Even though that last sentence seemed so obvious, I never thought of it. And hearing it (and subsequently letting it sink in) was quite freeing. I can do the job I want to do right now.

Now, while that advice was what I needed to hear at the time, now, I realize that any job I have should be a stepping stone to the career that I want. Admittedly, I am not sure of what the career I want actually is at the moment. But I know that every job I have and every volunteer opportunity I take will help me to figure it out. And it will bring me one step closer to the career that will make me happy.


(1) Koloc, Nathaniel. Build a career worth having. Harvard Business Review.

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