Women’s history inspires women’s futures

There was a time when women would have “consciousness-raising sessions,” where they talked about problems they faced, such as making less money than men did, remembers Gloria Miele, owner of Peter Herdic House, 407 W. Fourth St.

She and her daughter Liz, restaurant chef, wanted to create a space for women of Williamsport and the region to gather so they could share their ideas and experiences in a similar way.

With March being women’s history month, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to start something.

After a lot of planning, they created Sisters’ Salon, a chance for women to talk to other women they might not otherwise meet. It is held every Thursday from 5 p.m. when the bar and lounge open to whenever the conversation ends. Specially priced drinks and menu features are available.

“It’s a macro girls’ night out,” Liz said.

Having the Sisters’ Salon at the Peter Herdic House works well because it is a woman-owned business, started by Gloria and her sister Marcia in 1984. Liz has been working there on occasion since she was 13 years old.

Women owning businesses is the planned discussion for the next Sisters’ Salon meeting on Thursday.

Called “Minding Our Own Business,” those with experience will be able to answer the questions of those who want to start and run a business in Williamsport.

Having so many women in one room will allow those with dreams of starting a business to ask if others think there is a need for something in the community and ideas of how to make it happen.

The first salon night, held March 7, allowed women to discuss “Women’s History and Our Future.”

This year is the 50th anniversary of Betty Friedan’s “The Feminine Mystique.”

“It’s a big year for women’s history,” Liz said.

The fight for equality still is a strong issue since Facebook’s Chief Operation Officer Sheryl Sandberg earlier this month released her book “Lead In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead” as a way to explain why women’s progress in achieving leadership roles has stalled.

The following week, Williamsport’s women talked about sex during the “Sex and This City” gathering.

After the mother-daughter duo decided this event was something they really wanted to offer, Liz met for coffee with Nicoya Frey, owner of Frey’s Commissionary, to pick her brain for ideas.

“Two hours later and we’re still talking about sex and babies,” Liz said.

She realized other women would be just as interested discussing the same thing, so they planned a night for it.

Another important issue they decided needed to be addressed is nutrition and fitness, which will finish up the month on March 28.

However, if a need becomes apparent, it could continue into the warmer months when discussions can move outside the restaurant.

“We’d love to have it keep going,” Liz said.

Yet if it does not continue, she believes it already has filled a need because the people who were invited on Facebook and through the mailing list were excited about it and talking about it before it even happened.

“This is something we need,” Liz said.

Women do influence Williamsport, but there still is more to be done, she said.

“How do you go from what you have to what you want to see?” Liz said. “What can I change to make me happier?”