Bionic Women

For all you women out there who want to get actively involved in the business community here, the Bozeman chapter of Business and Professional Women (BPW) is a great place to start. BPW has been around since 1919 and the Bozeman chapter held its first meeting on September 18, 1930. Today the Bozeman BPW is still working to achieve the same goals it was founded on: “to achieve equity for all women in the workplace through advocacy, education, and information.” Bozeman’s chapter just happens to be the largest in the state, so it’s a great place for business women to meet fellow comrades.

Bozeman BPW hosts many events throughout the year to raise awareness about women in the workplace. The third full business week in October is National Business Women’s Week. During this time, Bozeman BPW holds its annual fundraiser as well as a Women of Achievement program, a Young Careerist program, and an Equal Pay Day. In the past it held a seminar on “Increasing Women’s Political Engagement in Montana.” Margot Kidder was the keynote speaker.

Outside Bozeman had a chance to talk to a past local winner of the Young Careerist award, Stacey Haugland, CPM. Stacey delivers babies here in the Bozeman area on a regular basis. Haugland was just beginning her career in reproductive health when she was nominated for the award. As she explains, “I thought I would just be my radical self and shock these business ladies. Well, that was a young person's assumption. Obviously, I was not shocking. I won the award and I came to know many of the women in the organization well. These were the women who were making change for the better and had been at it for a while. They were the women who had pushed the boundaries of what women could do. It wasn't all suits and pantyhose.” Winning the award helped Haugland accept and value the business skills necessary to fulfill her career ideals and ultimately helped guide her in opening a clinic.

Bozeman BPW is a great way for business women to network and to learn valuable lessons from experienced members about being active and involved in the issues facing women in the workplace. Members pay dues and as Haugland points out, “local dues help support changes at the state and federal levels. We really do need advocates at those levels for women and families. I remember just this April for Wage Equity Week, BPW organized an awareness campaign on the difference rates of pay by gender. I was driving in my car and heard a public radio report that in Wyoming women made 57 cents to every dollar a man made. 57cents! This was in 2007, not 1957. Over the course of a working life, that is a huge imbalance. Obviously, we still need to advocate for women economically.”

Being active in the community means more than staying physically active. Get involved! Make a difference—attend a meeting. Bozeman BPW holds meetings at the Comfort Inn the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of every month. Go to for more information or email [email protected].

You Fight Like a Girl

For most people, the phrase "fight like a girl" connotes a flailing, weak attempt at self-defense. For Peter Iacavazzi, it means kicking ass. Iacavazzi runs the Bozeman Rape Escape program, which was developed by Phoenix-based Defend University and the Women's Self-Defense Institute. "Fight Like a Girl" is the Rape Escape program's motto, and Iacavazzi, who is a certified Rape Escape instructor, has taught over 2,000 Gallatin Valley women smart strategies for defending themselves against attackers.

Standard martial arts moves often aren't effective tools for many women, and the notion that women should just be taught to escape because they aren't capable of defending themselves often falls short. That's why the Rape Escape is a more evolved program that focuses on using the feet and the power of the legs for self-defense. "The program is designed for women to use their strengths against the larger, more powerful attackers' weaknesses," says Iacavazzi. "Women can kick more than they can punch. They also almost inevitably end up on the ground because more often than not the attacker is going to be on top of her."

The program works, according to Iacavazzi, who has "a lot" of victory stories. "Five years ago, we did a pilot program for 20 to 30 junior and senior girls. One of the girls was attacked several weeks later by a boy she was friends with. She was able to defend herself, protect herself, and stop the rape. Everything she did was exactly what we taught her in the program."

The Rape Escape program is not hard to find—Peter holds classes at Bozeman High School, Anderson School, Chief Joseph Middle School, Curves, The Club in Bozeman, and Taekwondo West; he also offers private lessons. Classes are open to women, girls, and mother-daughter teams. The cost is usually about $40 per student or $60 for mother-daughter teams. Check out for more information.

-Tina Orem